Jessica Zimmer's picture

This full story is available to premium subscribers.

Login / Subscribe
Subscription options for $2, $15 and $25.


 

The World's Strongest Beers

Taking on the world’s strongest beers is a challenge. Strong beers typically have bold tastes and specified drinking conditions.

While most of the world’s strongest beers can be found outside of taprooms, they’re often rare and expensive. Extremely strong beers can be found the world over, in styles ranging from Belgian blond ale to IPA.

Our list showcases strong beers above 18 percent ABV, with one entry per producer. We’re also sharing brewing and drinking secrets for these powerful concoctions.

For this list, many of these mammoth brews were created using a process called "fractional freezing," which is the same method used to create the Eisbock beer style. Fractional freezing involves chilling the beer to a temperature that freezes the water but leaves the alcohol in a liquid state.

Though the BJCP Style Guidelines feature no beers above 14 percent ABV (Eisbock), the breweries that created these behemoths market their creations as beers. Because of that, they are presented on this list as extremely high-ABV brews.


Snake Venom, 67.5 percent ABV
Brewmeister

Scotland, released in 2013

Snake Venom is a dark amber beer with a hoppy, malty, sweet taste that doesn’t give away its high alcohol content, though you begin to feel the burn a few sips in. This English Barleywine is made with Scottish spring water, smoked peat malt, beer yeast and champagne yeast. It’s meant to be drunk ice cold.

Snake Venom is created with fractional freezing, a process that involves chilling the beer to a temperature that freezes the water but leaves the alcohol in a liquid state. The brewer then removes the ice and adds ethyl alcohol to increase the ABV. At 67.5 percent ABV, this beer is stronger than most vodkas or whiskies, which typically clock in at 40 percent ABV. The typical ABV for an English barleywine is 8 to 12 percent.

Snake Venom is extremely dense, heavy with alcohol and uncarbonated. Reviews about its taste and drinkability vary. Some customers say it’s toasty and pleasant. Others compare it to gasoline. The beer comes with a warning label stating it be drunk 35 ml at a time, the amount that’s in a shot glass. A nine-ounce bottle typically retails between $75 and $80.


Start the Future, 60 percent ABV 
Brouwerij 't Koelschip 

Netherlands, released in 2010

Start the Future is a pale-yellow beer with a sweet and tangy taste. It’s uncarbonated and thick, with a bitter aftertaste. Customers have called the flavor peppery and soapy. This beer, made with water, malt, hops, and yeast, is a German Eisbock. The style typically has an ABV of 9 to 14 percent. It’s recommended that you drink it in small doses, such as from a shot glass. A one-third liter bottle costs about $45.


Schorschbock 57, 57.5 percent ABV 
Schorschbräu 

Germany, released in 2011

The beer is dark brown and hazy, with very little carbonation. Some customers described it as tasting of soy sauce and molasses, with a strong burn. Others thought it was smoky and nutty, with a tropical or raisin-like flavor. The beer is sweet, with legs like wine. This German Eisbock is hard to find, given that only 36 numbered bottles were produced. A 40-ml bottle costs about $200.


The End of History, 55 percent ABV 
BrewDog 

Scotland, released in 2010

This Belgian blond ale is famous for its novelty status. Only 12 bottles were made. The beer was mixed with nettles and juniper berries from the Scottish Highlands and then fractionally frozen. Each bottle was stuffed inside a taxidermied roadkill animal such as a weasel, squirrel or hare. The bottles cost about $933 each. Each buyer received an equity stake in the brewery’s “Equity for Punks USA” crowdfunding campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to raise $50 million so BrewDog could open a Columbus, Ohio brewery. That effort succeeded, with the brewery’s Columbus location opening in 2018.


Espirit de Noël, 40 percent ABV
Baladin
Italy, released in 2011

This is a bright yellow distilled beer, with a smooth feel and notes of wood and chocolate. It’s meant to be served cold, at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Espirit de Noël was made by aging the beer for three years in oak barrels. This beer is one sample of Italy’s development in craft brewing. Espirit de Noël comes in half-liter bottles, with a price of around $40.


Finish reading this article by becoming a premium subscriber.
Visit the store now. Options start for only $2.00!

Advertisement

Table of Contents