Where It Stops, Nobody Knows…

Paulaner Salvator

The other day, I posted an entry on the other blog which prompted quite a few questions on my side.

As a frame of reference, the strongest brew I’ve had hovered close to 20% ABV (Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA, On Tap at Capital Ale in Richmond). I remember not having too much of a problem with it save for needing to pace myself. It had a more malty character than one would expect from an IPA and I remember it being sweet — again no problem for me, but I can see where it’d be a little off-putting for some…

Why would I be trying an IPA, most of my friends would probably ask? I was just curious about how a 15+% ABV brew would taste…

The next strongest brew I’ve had was Victory’s Old Horizontal Barleywine (it wasn’t really up my alley); the remaining brews didn’t break the 10% mark (mainly doppelbocks like the one pictured, and Belgian dark ales like Delirium Nocturnum).

I’ll give BrewDog’s assertion that their other beers have done well on Beer Advocate and look forward to trying them should they come by the way of the Village Pump. It still begs the question: what about the taste of a beer with more than half of its content (or more) being alcohol? Would it be even sweeter than I remember 120 Minute being, or would it be heavy on the alcohol in taste… Would it be some combination of the two, or nether? I guess it requires the palate of someone who likes whisky/scotch (or maybe even sherry/cognac) to truly be up someone’s alley, but I’ll never know on this particular brew. The beer sold out (not that I would have been able to afford it).

How high can craft brewers go; is there a ceiling? Would you still call it beer? Just want to hear your thoughts about high ABV brews and the race for the top…

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About A. Random Hapa

Thirty-something. INFP. Librarian. Brain Tumor Survivor. Hobbyist Singer. Amateur Photographer. Foodie. Craft Beer Fan. Unrepentant geek.

Posted on July 27, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Well, technically there is a limit. Eventually, the alcohol kills all the yeast, and with it the fermentation. Sam Adams and a couple of other breweries have developed secret, proprietary “superyeasts” that allow beer to ferment above a certain alcohol level.

    Whether or not you would call it beer after that is a matter of debate. I think that The Sam Adams Millenium Beer, which had something like a 40%abv, was more like a Cognac. So I heard. I can’t spring for a several-hundred-dollar bottle of hooch.


    Looks like companies like Brewdog get their high alcohol content by ice distilling, which would typically happen after the yeast had it’s way with the brew… (Eisbocks are usually produced in this manner, but those don’t have nearly as much ABV). Geekolststem give a good explanation of how we’re able to get that extra Alcoholis “oomph” here: http://www.geekosystem.com/strongest-beer-end-history-brewdog/

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