Beer is one of man’s greatest achievements. Most guys will have experienced brews around the 10 percent ABV mark, but to feel like a real man; then you must experience some of the world’s strongest beers. If you’re a hard liquor aficionado and mock us mere beer drinkers, then it might be time to climb down from your ivory tower and enjoy some hops for a change. With craft beers on the up, microbreweries from around the world are in an ABV war to create the most potent beer and claim naming rights to the world’s strongest beer.
Not for the purists most of the beers on this list aren’t naturally fermented to achieve their high ABV. That spot is left to Sam Adams Utopias, the world’s strongest naturally fermented beer, offering drinkers an ABV of 28 percent. The rest are achieved with a process called, fractional freezing. It’s a process that essentially lets breweries freeze and separate water from the alcohol and add more alcohol back in to boost the ABV. As we said it’s not for beer enthusiasts, but it makes for an interesting story to tell the grandkids. So read on and enjoy the strongest beers in the world.
Brewery: Sam Adams
The first brew on our list of strongest beers is produced two times a year and will be a firm favorite amongst drinkers who love vintage port, Cognac or sherry. Although it’s not the strongest beer on our list, with an ABV of 28%, the uncarbonated beer with its rich deep flavors should be savored slowly in a snifter like a spirit. After aging in bourbon casks for decades, and then finished in Madeira, Carcavelos, Cognac and Armagnac barrels the taste is both sweet and oaky. Unlike much more venomous options this isn’t thick like oil, but will still leave you with a serious hangover the next day.
The famous brew house from Scotland is well known for pushing the limits of what a beer can be. When the Tactical Nuclear Penguin was released back in 2009, it was their most ambitious stout beer to date. Stored in Scotish whiskey casks for 14 months they then freeze it a total of three times to further concentrate the alcohol. When the process is finished it’s bottled ready to be enjoyed. They also set about to beat their personal record with further limited editions of Sink the Bismark at 41 percent and The End of History with a whopping 55 percent ABV, unfortunately, both are out of commission. Brewdog suggests enjoying the Tactical Nuclear Penguin like a fine whiskey – in small amounts.
Brewery: De Struise Brouwers
Unlike most extreme ABV beers the Struise Black Damnation 4 actually tastes good. Almost completely black this is an Imperial Stout that has nods to coffee with notes of roasted malts, java, and dark chocolate. At 39% ABV, this is a strong beer, you can taste its strength but it’s not overpowering. It’s still carbonated and pours with a good head and still tastes like a beer.
Back in 2011, Baladin distilled a beer which they left to rest in oak barrels for three years. What came next was an ultra strong “Christmas Spirit,” the Espirit de Noel. The aromas of the oak barrels create a perfect harmony with the spirit to create a straw color brew that is smooth on the palate and hints at mild notes of wood and chocolate.
Sink the Bismarck! is beer, turned up a notch. A quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create a staggering 41% ABV. The Bismark gives off a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma delivering a smooth liquid sensation for the mouth tasting of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts.
The English / German rivalry was renewed when BrewDog threw down the gauntlet with their Tactical Nuclear Penguin. German brewery Schorschbrau returned fire with the Schorschbock. They even went as far to brew a special edition with 57 percent ABV in a ceramic bottle. For those that prefer a ‘milder’ beer this 43 percent version is still available and comes packaged in a wax-sealed bottle and the false claim of “World’s Strongest Beer.”
The second appearance from BrewDog on our list of strongest beers was once the world’s strongest beer. The End of History was an ultra limited blond Belgian ale wrapped in preserved roadkill. With an eye-watering price tag of $780 a bottle, only 12 bottles were initially made in 2010. After a crowdfunding campaign in 2016, which raised $20,000, investors were rewarded with this collector’s item.
This is the second incarnation of the Schorschbock. The original was released in 2010 with a mere 43 percent ABV, but that wasn’t good enough for the Schorschbrau brewery, and so in 2011 the Schorschbock 57 was born. The German brewer claims it’s impossible to reach a higher ABV without violating Germany’s 500-year-old Beer Purity Law. With just 36 bottles of this beer sold, they didn’t go cheap, costing around $210 a bottle.
Brewery: JN Whiskey Distillery (‘t Koelschip)
Recently renamed as the JN Whiskey Distillery, the brand is still selling their old beers such as Start The Future. Like most other brewery’s this beer was in response to another of BrewDog’s own, The End of History. Not for the faint of heart, Start The Future’s name is a definite tongue in cheek dig at BrewDog’s strongest beer. Most reviews suggest this beer isn’t very palatable, it’s like a beer mixed with a cheap whiskey, but hell, if it’s 60 percent ABV, this is one beer to add to your bucket list.
Brewmesiter replaced it’s previous strongest beer (Armageddon) with this, the Snake Venom. A bottle of beer that boasts an incredible stomach-pumping 67.5 percent ABV. Obviously this isn’t supposed to be drunk like a normal brew; instead, it should be savored in small drams. A whole bottle would be the equivalent of drinking 15 shots of hard liquor. We can’t imagine where the ABV race will go next, and how enjoyable the beer will taste, but Snake Venom is certainly top of the pile for now. You might as well just drink lighter fluid and be done with it.