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World's Strongest Beers of 2010

  • Apr 22, 2010
Certain topics always seem to come up at parties and bars. Drinking wisdom ("beer before liquor, never sicker"), old stories ("you should've seen what Jimmy did last year!"), and liquid confidence-fueled flirting ("Is that a beer in your pocket, or are you just happy to...") are all to be expected. Another timeless bar room discussion involves the strengths of different kinds of beer.  Perhaps you've ordered a glass of your favorite brew only to be challenged by someone who seems awfully sure of what a "real man" (or woman!) would drink instead.  Unfortunately, many of these people are just shooting from the hip - while drunk, no less - about what beers they believe are strongest without any real evidence. 

Lucky for you, I've explored the 10 strongest beers in the world with some concrete evidence (ABV data from RateBeer.com!).  The ABV of these beers range from 22% to a staggering 41%.  I bet you're feeling a lot less cool about that 20% ABV beer you tried last summer and kept bragging about, huh?  I know I do...

So crack open a beer and enjoy this list!  ...And more importantly, who's down for a pub crawl?  Because I don't think I'm going to be able to make it home on my own ;P
1
BrewDog Sink the Bismarck

ABV: 41%

Judging by the ABV of BrewDog's Sink The Bismarck, not only will it sink The Bismarck, but something tells me that it will sink anyone who drinks it as well!  This is the only brew that is truly worthy of the title "World's Strongest Beer".  This Scottish imperial/double IPA uses American hops and is sold only in limited-time batches.  At the time of writing, no Sink The Bismarck is available for purchase (although the company website does mention that pre-orders are being accepted for Batch 5, due to go on sale in early May, so watch out!). 

Although BrewDog has only been in business since 2007, Sink The Bismarck wasted no time in claiming its place atop the strongest beer pecking order.  Impressive!


2
Schorschbräu Schorschbock 40%
ABV: 39.44%

The top of the beer strength chart is no place for the faint of heart. APerfectPint.net reported on February 16 regarding the "Brewdog/Schorschbräu Beer War", characterizing it as a "silly battle of the booze" in which each company jockeys back and forth for the title of world's strongest beer.  Anything to be in the headlines, right?  Well, as long as I get my beer, it doesn't matter!  At time of writing, Schorschbock 40% weighs in at number two, tops among all Eisbock varieties. 

The problem is, how am I going to order this?  Shh...or...bra....shh...or...bock 40?
3
Revelation Cat Craft Brewing Freeze the Penguin
ABV: 35%

Clocking in at number three on the world's strongest beer list is Revelation Cat Craft Brewing Freeze the Penguin. While I don't think it's very nice to freeze penguins because they're so darn cute (I mean, have you seen Happy Feet and March of the Penguins???), this is 35% ABV beer and what's more?  There's a Hot Habanero version spiced with hot habanero orange peppers as well!  The Italian eisbock is "a mix of a barley wine and an imperial stout" according to Beer Drivel, who remarked in February 2010 that Italy had "entered the fight" with BrewDog and Schorschbräu with the release of their mixed 35% ABV brew.

By all accounts, it appears that the Scottish, Germans and Italians are engaged in an ongoing war to one up each other with stronger, more potent beer.  No complaints here!
4
BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin
ABV: 32%

Not content to merely produce the world's strongest beer, BrewDog also lays claim to making the fourth strongest beer with its Nuclear Penguin brew. The popular imperial stout holds its own with a 32% ABV.  And... surprise surprise, once stood tall as the strongest beer in the world (prompting the creation of Freeze The Penguin).  A November 2009 article in the UK's Telegraph quoted BrewDog as calling Nuclear Penguin its "most audacious and ambitious project to date", and BrewDog managing director James Watt elaborated that "this beer is bold, irreverent and uncompromising, a beer with a soul and a purpose, a statement of intent." Only 500 bottles were produced at time of launch. 

A beer with a soul and a purpose, plus a statement of intent to boot?  Gimme a swig!
5
Schorschbräu Schorschbock 31%
ABV: 31%

The second Schorschbock on this list, Schorschbock 31% held the title of strongest beer in the world as recently as 2006. BeerAdvocate.com gives Schorschbock 31% an A- grade, with positive marks on look, smell, taste, feel and drink. The potent German eisbock is said have no head, possess a "complex fiery-alcoholic aroma" while "going down burning, like an earthquake" and leaving behind "a very prickly aftertaste".

Well, considering I swallowed extra spicy, piping hot, miso ramen broth down the wrong pipe last night, I don't think anything could ever burn as bad again, so slide a bottle of Shh...or...bra....shh...or...bock 31 on over!
6
Südstern XXL
ABV: 27.6%

Brewed by Brauhaus Südstern in Berlin, Südstern XXL is a potent eisbock that grew out of the company's quest to brew the strongest beer on Earth. Much like Schorschbock 31%, the beermakers at Südstern discovered that the way to infuse their product with the most punch was to "take away the ice thus removing water from the mix and leaving a higher percentage of alcohol", according to Quazen.com. Perhaps the greatest triumph of Südstern XXL was edging out the next beer on this list for sixth place.

I may be an XXS, but I'm totally ready to try some XXL.  Bring it!
7
Samuel Adams Utopias
ABV: 27%

A common trait of most of the beers on this list is their expense (Nuclear Penguin, for instance, sold the latter half of its first 500 bottles for over 500 Euros apiece!).  While Samuel Adams is a popular name, their Utopias is no exception and shares in that tradtion, even being named on Hess Brewing's ranking of "Really Expensive Beers". Specifically, this 27% ABV barley wine retailed at an MSRP of $130 per bottle as of October 2009, although Hess concedes that "the bottle alone is worth the money".  Only 3,000 bottles are produced each year. 

Really though, it's such a gorgeous brass bottle that it seems worthy enough for Snoop Dogg to be taking a swig out of.  And for a little slice of utopia, I'd be willing to fork over $130 ;)
8
Struise Black Damnation V - Double Black
ABV: 26%

Surprisingly, Belgium doesn't make its way to this list till number 8.  Belgium makes its contribution to the world's strongest beers list with its Struise Black Damnation V, an imperial stout weighing in at 26% ABV. Quazen.com describes it as being "just mind-blowing, like a silky smooth chocolate/coffee/dried fruit liquer, only ten times better".

Chocolate.  Coffee.  Dried fruit.  Liquer.  Are you sure this bottle isn't actually "heaven"?
9
Mühlfelder Stärkstes Bier der Welt
ABV: 25.4%

Still another eisbock to appear on our ranking is Mühlfelder Stärkstes Bier der Welt. Brewed by Mühlfelder Brauhaus, this powerful drink held the title of World's Strongest Beer in 2005 and is fermented for 12 weeks using sherry yeast. A reviewer on RateBeer explains that Bier der Welt's "flavor is richly sweet with cinnamon, honey, cereal, old wood, stale grains, maple, alcohol, generic spice" and concludes by noting that it is "a dessert drink, for sure." Another reviewer commented that it "pours muddy brown with no head."

"Bier der Welt" translates from German as "Beer of the World" and who isn't ever down for a "welt"-ly experience?!
10
Applewood Farm Iced Cider
ABV: 22%

Canada cracks the top 10 strongest beers list with its Applewood Farm Iced Cider. Applewood's website describes the brew as "honey in colour, medium weight with a soft sweet vanilla spice nose". It has garnered a score of 96 on RateBeer, with one reviewer opining that the beverage is a "full bodied, and quite boozey example of a fantastic style of cider." Another remarked that its "apple aroma has a bit of wood and apple butterscotch." Those looking for a radically different taste and feel than the other beers above are encouraged to give Applewood Farm Iced Cider a try.

 You can tell the kids that this is an adult apple cider ;)

What did you think of this list?

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November 06, 2011
And I thought Piraate Ale was strong....lol. Enjoyed reading this very much.
November 06, 2011
Sounds like it's time for you to hit up a great beer garden and get yourself an education! ;) Thanks for reading, Larry!
November 06, 2011
I love craft beers and have a great bar locally that rotates them on a weekly basis. But have never tried anything as strong as those in the review.
 
December 28, 2010
I definitely will join you on that crawl AND I think we should make it a goal for next year to find bars in the Bay Area that actually carry these beers ;p
 
August 24, 2010
Girl friend, you are talking to a retired Army aviator, we drink beer for breakfast. Better yet, if you want to know something about beer drinking and Army aviators, check out my review of "Henry Weinhards Private Reserve" for a good belly laugh. http://www.lunch.com/Reviews/d/Henry_Weinhar...2.html?cid=3#rid:120779 Seriously, loved your review, I hadn't heard of any of these beers, love learning something new!!!
 
August 23, 2010
Devora, way to go girl!!! Great review, I will have to try some of the Sink the Bismarck one day!
August 23, 2010
Haha, thanks, Mike! Try not to let the Bismarck sink YOU! ;)
 
August 19, 2010
I had for my b-day dinner a Lost Abbey specialty ale. I never paid $15 for one bottle before, I assure you. It tasted more like brandy (cf. the Sam Adams bocks) than beer, but as a special occasion, it was fine if very heavy. Do the brews you feature taste less like beer too as I suspect? It's a curious niche, making beer taste like hard liquor...
August 20, 2010
Nice! Though actually, that sounds kind of gross :P I might be tempted to mix it with some juice or something. Did it have any fizz in it at all? And I've never had any of these before, only read about them, but I suspect that they all taste like hard liquor...
August 24, 2010
No fizz, really. As you say, past 10% alcohol edges these into non-beer...
 
June 26, 2010
Actually, I reviewed number one on this list on my blog! I'll have to post it here. It was surprisingly tasty, and actually tasted like beer. Sadly, it's no longer the strongest in the world ... Schorschbräu recently took back the title.
June 30, 2010
Whoa, awesome review, Scott! Yes, you should bring that over to Lunch :) And that's very surprising to hear -- that it was tasty and tasted like bear, and that they're no longer the world's strongest! Geez, are we going to be drinking carbonated moon shine and calling it beer soon? :P
July 12, 2010
Haha, I have no idea, but the guys at BrewDog said recently that they stand by Sink the Bismarck and the beer isn't a gimmick, so perhaps the contest is over. And thanks, by the way!
 
June 13, 2010
Strong indeed! Probably nice to sip on a cold night though, like a nice scotch. Great review!
June 30, 2010
Ha, I bet! Thanks, Devon!
 
June 04, 2010
Well, I know what I'm doing for the weekend. Awesome list, D!
June 30, 2010
So did you go down the list? ;P
 
April 23, 2010
The point is that many of these aren't really beers at all;they began life as beer but through successive stages of freezing out the water content the strength has been raised.In many countries this would be considered to amount to distillation and the result would be termed a spirit or a liqueur.
April 23, 2010
I'm confident that all of these were made with the eisbock method. One of these was even brewed in an ice cream factory (BrewDog's Nuclear Penguin)! I hear ya on not really considering these beer. Once I heard 40% ABV, the first thought that popped in my mind was, "That's still a beer?", but apparently, the six countries represented on this list consider them to be so. I'm pretty sure that the first half of the beers on this list have no head, but have some fizziness to it. Thanks for your comment, Peter! :)
 
April 23, 2010
*hic* nice *hic*...review! you owe me a new keyboard...I am so (*hic*) wasted that dropped my head on mine LMAO
April 23, 2010
Between this list and the videos so cute they'll make you puke list, I'm going broke replacing keyboards!  Maybe I should put up a "read at your own risk" disclaimer... ;)
 
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About the list creator
devora ()
Ranked #4
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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