If you’ve paid attention to this blog over the years, you’ll have clued in to the fact that I quite like the occasional malted beverage, and that I strongly prefer the black, opaque ones to the ones I tend to disdainfully dismiss as “see-through beer”.
I may also have mentioned over the years that I tend to prefer stouts in the 4-7% a.b.v range, although for certain particularly well-crafted imperial stouts and strong porters (and, of course, Unibroue products) I have enjoyed things up to around the 9% range.
Anything above that, I tend to think of as a stunt beer–you might drink some once, just to say you did, but they tend not to be delightful taste experiences, at least to my palette.
Frankly, once you qualify as “malt liquor”, the odds are quite good I’m going to think you taste like a particularly poor hooch, not a particularly bold beer.
However, the lure of the occasional stunt beer still remains, and there’s always the possibility that a particularly talented brewmeister might craft something worth drinking at the higher alcohol levels…
But, when we jump into ranges higher than 40%, and are racing to 50%, then I’m fair certain this is a “because it’s there” project, and not a “for the beauty of the view from the peak” one.
The story, though, of the way this “extreme beer” race developed, and continues to develop, is pretty interesting though–especially the UK-vs-Germany aspect of it.
The Gizmag folks have a pretty lengthy writeup on the whole thing that you might find interesting, even if–like me–you think that freezing is a kind of distillation, and hence the product is not-really-beer, and like me you have no intention of trying to drink a bottle of the stuff.
The strongest beer in history had a 27% alcohol content in January 2009. By December, the record had risen to nearly 40% alcohol by volume – a 50% rise in potency in 12 months, despite 10,000 years of history.
“I don’t think 45% is the limit for alcohol content, though I suspect that once we get to 50% we may begin to find issues with the drinkability and taste – it’s uncharted territory. I am confident we can get to 50% with all the right qualities. After that, we’ll see. Also if we go much higher, we might be getting only 40 to 60 bottles from an entire batch. It’s not about the money – like people chasing any record, I just want to see what the limit can be.”
On a different axis of extreme–this time age, not strength–I should also note that the writeup referenced above lead me to information about Sumerian poetry and the history of recorded beer recipes.
I was quite cheered to read the nearly 4000 year old Sumerian beer recipe embedded in a poem, and to read that the Anchor guys actually brewed some of this. There’s an extreme beer I would try–hell, I tried the ‘Phrygian cocktail‘, and this is somewhat in the same line.