If you’re a hard liquor loyalist who scoffs at beer, discounting it as nothing more than a drink for weaklings, then you’ve never met a beer like these. These aren’t just stronger-than-average beers clocking in at a paltry 10 percent. These are the real deal—beers that have more in common with 151 than they do with IPA. Here, the strongest beers in the world that you can buy.
The biannual special edition brew is geared towards lovers of vintage port, Cognac and sherry. With its high ABV and ultra-rich flavors, the uncarbonated beer is meant to be savored slowly in a snifter like a spirit. The 2015 edition was aged up to 22 years in bourbon casks from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, and it was finished in Madeira, Carcavelos, Cognac and Armagnac barrels. You can nab one of the 15,000 copper-covered porcelain bottles for $200.
The Scottish-based beer team is known for pushing the boundaries of what beer can be, and at the time of its release in 2009, this strong beer was their most ambitious project to date. The stout was aged for 14 months in Scotch whisky casks and then frozen three consecutive times (to help concentrate the alcohol) before being bottled. It earned the title of strongest beer in the world, kicking off an ABV arms race between breweries. BrewDog actually beat their own record with the limited edition Sink the Bismark (41 percent) and The End of History (55 percent, served in a taxidermied squirrel), but both are out of commission. And while Tactical Nuclear Penguin is also currently out of stock, it’s been known to make the occasional comeback. BrewDog warns that it should be consumed in small amounts, “with an air of aristocratic nonchalance in exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.”
When BrewDog threw down the gauntlet with their Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Schorschbräu answered with Schorschbock. While the German brewery released a special edition ceramic bottle of 57 percent ABV beer to a select few, the slightly more modest 43 percent beer was released in 2015 to a wider audience and is still available. It comes in a wax-sealed bottle with a leather hanger around the neck that reads (falsely) “World’s Strongest Beer.”
The ‘t Koelschip brewery in the Netherlands recently became JN Whisky Distillery, but the distillery is still selling their old beers. Not for the faint of heart, Start The Future was released after BrewDog’s The End of History (the cheeky name seems intentional). The general consensus is that the beer tastes pretty awful—like someone spilled beer into cheap whiskey—but most agree that you should drink it once before you die, just to say that you have.
At a whopping 67 percent, the UK-brewed Snake Venom is meant to be savored in small drams. Though Brewmeister is no longer brewing Snake Venom, the beer is still for sale and the brewery continues to produce other super-strong (by normal standards) beers. Unlike other beers on this list, Snake Venom’s label, which advertises it as the “World’s Strongest Beer,” is actually factual, for now at least. We imagine the ABV race will continue until someone finally just throws some hops in a gallon of lighter fluid and calls it a day.