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If you enjoy a hearty brew over today’s watery light beers, you understand the subtlety that goes into combining great taste with strength. You adore the complexity of a good bock, savoring every moment of the sandwich-in-a-glass experience. While the alcohol content matters less when you moderate, you might have wondered, “what are the world’s strongest beers?”
We’ve got your answers. We’ve tasted 11 of the world’s strongest beers. Here’s what’s worth adding to your collection.
Is There a Contest for the World’s Strongest Beers?
Is there an official “world’s strongest beer” competition? Yes. BrewDog, a Scottish brewery, began it when they released a 32% alcohol per volume (APV) brew called Tactical Nuclear Penguin. They had already earned a reputation for clever gimmicks.
However, the previous record holder, Germany’s Schorschbrau, quickly fired back with a 40% ABV bock. Not to be outdone, BrewDog fired back with the 41% Sink the Bismark. Schorschbrau ramped up its Schorschbock to 43%, and BrewDog replied with strong and positively quirky End of History, which they sold inside taxidermied squirrels. However, in 2011, Schorschbock countered once more with a 57% Schorschbock.
Guess what? All great conflicts need not end in hostility. The best things come from collaboration, not competition, and BrewDog and Schorschbock embraced this wisdom. Their ultimate collaboration resulted in Strength in Numbers, a colossal 57.8% brew that gets its high ABV by using the traditional Eisbock method.
The Big Top 5 List: The World’s Strongest Beers
While stronger beers exist today, they often use more modern processes that add alcohol later in the brewing process, contesting their title as the world’s strongest “beer.” However, that’s how many bill them. Here is the current top five list you can still find available for purchase, although the price point might set you back a bit.
1. Brewmeister Snake Venom (67.5%)
This gold medal winner currently tops the world’s strongest beer charts. It comes with a yellow warning label informing drinkers not to consume more than 35 milliliters in a single sitting. It took the record in the Guinness Book in 2016.
At just over $60 per bottle, once you convert the euros, it’s an extravagance, although nowhere near as pricey as the world’s most expensive brew. That title belongs to Allsopp’s Arctic Ale, a whopping $503,300 a bottle. They justify the price because each one is a survivor of an 1875 Arctic expedition in which they made a limited amount, making surviving bottles worth a lot.
2. Sink the Bismarck! (41%)
One of the OG’s still makes the list of the world’s strongest beers, coming in at an admirable second place. This “quadruple IPA” was formerly available only in Europe but made it stateside for Boulder, Colorado’s 2010 Beer Bloggers Conference. It rings in at a hefty price tag — around $100 a bottle — but it’s well worth the expense if you’re a true brew aficionado.
3. Schorschbock (31%)
It only makes sense that Schorschbock still makes the top five, right next to one of its old buddy BrewDog’s creations. This original among the world’s strongest beers still rings in at a hefty ABV percentage to give you plenty of buzz — although this, like other brews on the list, is best enjoyed in moderation at tasting events. However, this original has staying power because of its smooth malt and caramel flavor.
4. Sam Adams Utopias 2017 (28%)
Yes, an American brewery makes the list. Sam Adams Utopias boasts more than five times the alcohol content of their typical lager. However, you won’t find yourself picking up a 6-pack at your local convenience store. This stuff will set you back by $250 for a 24-ounce bottle, although it comes in a signature gold bottle that looks fabulous on your mantel.
5. Brewmeister Armageddon (65%)
This Scottish brewery now goes by a new name, Keith Brewery LTD. However, its popular Armageddon still deserves a spot on this list. It was the brewery’s first attempt at breaking the Guinness Book record. Ironically, yes, that famous record book was started by the same Guinness who also founded a renowned brewery still in operation today.
Other Tasty Contenders Among the World’s Strongest Beers
Some of the beers below have made the world’s strongest beer list in the past. Others are notable contenders. They’re a bit tricky to find in stores, and you may not be able to import them where you live. Many are discontinued, meaning their prices could get steep. However, they’re worthy additions to your collection if you can find them.
1. Koelschip Start the Future
This Netherlands Eisbock weighs in at 60% ABV. It pours like a light pilsner, but don’t let the color deceive you. It tastes of agave, the primary ingredient in tequila, a win if you’re a fan of that south-of-the-border liquor.
2. Schorschbräu Schorschbock 57
If you can find this bad boy from the original world’s strongest beer competition days, you’re lucky indeed. The initial asking price wouldn’t set you back an exorbitant amount. However, it’s tougher to find since they discontinued it, making it a collector’s item.
3. Schorschbräu Schorschbock 43
Here’s another worthy addition to your Beers-I-Will-Drink-During-The-Zombie-Apocalypse collection. It’s also discontinued, so grab it if you can find it. It’s a deep chestnut brown with a nutty, raisin-like flavor reminiscent of brandy.
4. Baladin Esprit de Noel
You’ll have a Merry Christmas indeed with this 40% ABV brew. It’s a bright straw yellow with a smoothness, belying its high alcohol content. It’s a distilled beer aged in oak barrels intended as a celebration after a hearty meal.
5. Struise Black Damnation VI
Here’s a heavy black but sweeter beer, a Russian imperial stout formerly produced by the De Struise Brewers. If you can find it, it promises rich cherry flavors that disguise the high ABV content. Take your time sipping, or you might find yourself wobbly when you try to stand up from your barstool.
6. BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin
Here’s another one of the OG’s if you can find it. This imperial stout was double-barrel aged for 14 months before being frozen, frozen twice and then frozen once more for good measure. As the alcohol content is roughly the same as a good whiskey, you’ll want to enjoy it in small quantities.
The World’s Strongest Beers
If you’re a true beer lover, you’ve probably wondered about the world’s strongest beers. Although the Guinness Book tracks this annually, the real contest began between two rival breweries in 2010 and ended with a beautiful collaboration between them.
You probably shouldn’t stock these pricy brews in your typical beer fridge. However, consider adding them to your collection or ordering those still produced for a unique tasting of the world’s strongest beers events your friends will rave about for weeks.