What’s the strongest beer in the world? That’s the question on everyone’s lips these days, and with new beers springing up on the market all the time, it’s not always easy to answer. The strongest beer in the UK, for example, might be world’s apart from the strongest Belgian beer and what’s strong one year could be considered weak the next. So what’s strong these days, and are strong beers even tasty? We’ll examine all of these issues and more in the following post.
The strongest beer in the world
The race to produce the strongest beer has been running for quite some time, with breweries all over the world clamoring to win the strongest brew accolade. Special techniques like re-pitching with Champagne yeast or freeze-distilling mean that beer has long ago transcended its average realms of 4.5%-5%. In 1994, the strongest beer listed by the Guinness Book of Records was a beer called Vetter that was just 10.5%. By 2011, the strongest beer was BrewDog’s Ghost Beer at 28%.
So, if we fast forward to today, which beer has the highest alcohol level to date? The world’s strongest beer at the time of writing is called Snake Venom and it’s brewed by a company called Brewmeister in Scotland. This red coloured beer comes in at 67.5% (making it more of a spirit, let's face it) and you can buy a 330ml bottle of it for a mere £49.99 which also gets you your very own certificate of authenticity. Don't get too excited though - sale of Snake Venom is limited to just one per customer.
This particular beer is brewed with a mixture of smoke peat malt along with Champagne and ale yeast. It's so strong that the high alcohol content knocks out the "fizz" of the beer, meaning there are no bubbles in this brew. Expect a sweet, nutty flavour and a fiery intense finish. It's also recommended to enjoy it in small measures of 35ml. There’s no telling how long this so-called venom will stay at the top spot, but for the time being it’s considered to be, and marketed as, the strongest beer you can buy. Since the beer is made in bonnie Scotland, we can also consider this the strongest beer in the UK.
It’s worth noting that before Brewmeister released Snake Venom in 2013, the world's strongest beer was another beer from this brewery called Armageddon. This beer came in at a whopping 65% AVB, just 2% lower than its successor. Like Snake Venom, Armageddon was designed to be sipped like a whiskey rather than gulped down like your normal beer. Ingredients include crystal malt, wheat, flaked oats and 100% Scottish spring waters.
Other famously strong beers
Whilst Snake Venom and Brewmeister have claimed the top two spots, there are some other beers that deserve a mention in the race to create the world’s strongest beer. These are:
3rd place: Start The Future, a 60% beer made by Koelschip brewery in the Netherlands.
4th place: German brewery Schorschbrau's 57% beer, Schorschbock 57
5th place: The End of History by another well known Scottish brewery, BrewDog.
Brewdog strongest beer
If you’re into extremely strong beers, Brewdog is one company that should be on your radar. They’re the makers of the aforementioned The End of History, a 55% limited edition beer that originally cost an eye watering $780 per bottle and sold out almost immediately. It's packaged in something equally as eye watering - a bottle housed inside a real taxidermy squirrel or stoat. Flavours in this beer include hints of mead, juniper berries and nettles. After selling out all 12 bottles in the UK, the beer was later released in the American market where customers had to commit at least $20k to BrewDog's crowdfunding initiative before being allowed to buy one of the 10 bottles produced.
BrewDog's co-founder James Watt, interviewed by Vice magazine, explained how The End of History is brewed as follows: "This beer takes seven months to make and we use a technique known as ice distillation where we freeze the beer down to -40 degrees Celsius for a period of months. Then we can take away the ice and we concentrate the liquid, we concentrate the alcohol, but most importantly, we're concentrating the flavors and the aromas." The result, according to Watts, packs one hell of a punch and should be sipped slowly like a fine Scotch or bourbon.
Strong beers at Beers of Europe
We don’t sell stuffed squirrels at Beers of Europe. Or beers that are anything near as strong as a whiskey. But we do sell beers ranging from 0.5% to 14.9% from all over the world. Some of our favourite strong beers include:
Gouden Carolus Tripel: a 9% Belgian ale that was traditionally brewed for the Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece way back in 1491.
Orkney Skullsplitter: an 8.5% scotch ale with a fruity character, and hints of spicy hop, dates and figs.
Schneider Weisse Aventinus Eisbock: A brew that came about by accident, when it was shipped all over Bavaria in the 1940s in containers that lacked temperature control, thereby concentrating the brew.
So there you have it: everything you ever wanted to know about the world's strongest beers in a nutshell. To browse the finest collection of strong beers this side of the English Channel, head over to this corner of the store now. Bottoms up!