5 high-ABV brews to drink while you mourn the death of the world's strongest
The beer blogging world began chattering last month that Armageddon -- once the world's highest alcohol brew -- was, in fact, a low-alcohol fraud. The Scottish lager carries 65% ABV on its label, and is second only to its sister beer, Snake Venom, at 67.5%. Brewers can achieve the ridiculously high ABV by partially freezing the beer and discarding the ice on top. While reviewers were never totally on board with the beer's flavor, they also pointed out that it did not carry the tell-tale harsh alcohol bite that even 9% beers typically have.
Now, all the naysayers have an answer. Brewmeister, the dudes behind these two bottles, released an independent study saying that their first batch was legit, but bottles from more recent batches, which sell for upwards of $50, are around 15.25%. Evil Twin even responded to the news with a joke for beer nerds, since it's scientifically impossible to reach that ABV pre-freezing:
While Armageddon's brew may be debunked of its alcohol worth (and its flavor), there are many breweries out there that've mastered the balancing act of higher alcohol content and drinkability, including Evil Twin. Here are five worth your time.
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec (Breakside)
Habanero & serrano chilies and cacao nibs make the Portland brewer's basic Aztec ale a highly drinkable beer, but after a four-month bath in Jim Beam barrels, Breakside gets a much more potent brew with a more complex, blended flavor profile available only at its second tap room. From a brewery that dropped 100 beers last year, it's one of the best.
Colossus (DuClaw Brewing Company)
The Maryland brewery has done well making very bold brews, but this High Gravity Hybrid -- the highest alcohol beer ever brewed in the state -- plays it heavy with the fruit, so you can get lost in fig, apple, and honey without drowning in boozy alcohol fumes.
Black Tuesday (The Bruery)
This Imperial Stout stands out from its other dark-bottle bretheren for two reasons: it ages for over a year inside bourbon barrels, giving the beer an undeniable hit of the booze, and The Bruery also uses less common flavors, like anise, to play with the chocolate and coffee flavors in the rich, thick brew. The 2013 edition topped out at 18.9%... who knows what kind of kick it'll have when it returns in October?
Bozo Beer (Evil Twin Brewing)
The popular Danish brewery that threw shade over Brewmeister's flub has a huge line-up of 10%+ brews ready to back up their tongue-in-cheek tweet. And since they're the 10th best brewery in the world, they actually can back that up. We love their Bozo Beer: a complex take on the Imperial Stout with a slew of ingredients like marshmallows, chestnuts, and chilies, for the discerning tongue to dance with.
120 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head)
This malty, boozy beer is the hulking big brother of Dogfish Head's far less hoppy 60 and 90 Minute options. The brew is hopped for two full hours -- 120 minutes... duh -- then dry hopped for a month and then aged on more hops. The taste drifts towards barleywine, rather than IPA, but it's a highly-sought bottle for hopheads, so much so that people flock from all over to score it when it's released every few months.