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55% Alcohol by Volume Beer

Written By Culinary Pen on Sunday, August 15, 2010 | 4:48:00 PM

This was a wire article from July 25th that I read in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - The strongest and most expensive beer ever created sold out within hours Friday, a Scottish Brewer said, as they courted controversy by packaging the bottles inside the bodies of stuffed animals.

BrewDog, the self-described maverick brewery, presented the beer - which contains a record 55 percent alcohol - inside the bodies of dead squirrels and stoats.

Animal rights activists rushed to condemn the stunt.

BrewDog said the limited edition Belgian ale - made with juniper berries and dubbed "The End of History" - was the costliest beer ever sold.

The squirrel bottles cost $1,081 each and the seven stoat bottles went for $772 a pop. END.

Ok - that's the end of the news article. Reading on their website, I found it interesting that they used roadkill for sourcing the animal bodies. It seems like a cool idea, but then they also mention that a good portion of the price tag is "simply how much custom, high quality taxidermy costs." Which makes one wonder - with only twelve bottles in circulation, how many people are actually going to drink this? It reminds me of The Billionaire's Vinegar, where rare wines often turned to vinegar because people appreciated the unopened bottle's rarity more than the quality of the wine inside.

Another interesting fact is that this seems to be an ice beer, or eisbock in German. BrewDog also makes a 41% abv beer, which they mention requires four bouts of freezing to reach the desired alcohol strength. This is also how early American settles made apple jack, an apple brandy. Not having any fancy distilling equipment, they would roll out a big barrel of fermented cider into the snow. Overnight the water in the cider would freeze, leaving behind a layer of concentrated alcohol at the bottom. Then a hole would be drilled into the bottom and the alcohol siphoned out.

BrewDog blog post on 55% ABV beer.

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Matt F said...

The marketer in me applauds them for creating a unique and successful product launch that gives them unbelievable exposure. While the brewer in me knows that this "beer" was not brewed to be a good beer. I think brew dog is one of the worst offenders of brewers making extreme beer just to be extreme. I agree with you that most of this beers will probably end up being resold or purchased by collectors.

I do understand the argument of pushing the envelope, but when you aim just to make the beer more alcoholic, rare and expensive, it becomes more of a science and marketing experiment than a brewing experiment.