High Alcohol Content Beer War Continues With 60% ABV Brew

Hot on the heels of last week’s news about the 55% alcohol content beer (which also happened to come packed in roadkill), a Dutch brewer has upped the ante with a brew purported to contain 60% alcohol by volume.

While the 55% beer had been dubbed the “End of History,” this 60% ABV boozer has a more uplifting name in “Start the Future.” It also does not come stuffed in a rodent carcass, which is a plus.

Additionally, Start the Future’s price tag — $45 for .333 liter — is a huge savings over End of History, which sold out in spite of its $760/bottle price tag.

The battle over these high ABV beverages has seen a lot of good-natured ribbing between competitors. For example, when German brewery Schorschbrau unveiled a beer with 40% ABV, BrewDog, the Scottish company responsible for End of History, introduced a 41% ABV beer they called Sink the Bismarck!.

“It has become a little competition,” said the Start the Future brewer. “You should see it as a joke.”

Brewer claims world’s strongest beer [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    *gasp* 120 Proof beer? You couldn’t even drink that stuff without the alcohol burning your nostrils.

    Hell, give me a bottle of Guiness and a fifth of everclear and I will do the same thing. Probably taste the same too.

    • Humward says:

      Actually, one concern is that they may be resorting to exactly that — sticking a little very-high proof whiskey in the beer to raise the ABV. I understand they may have done the same with their previous offering — though that’s just a rumor floating around on blogs, so who knows.

      I guess the argument is that if it’s 51% beer, it’s beer — but if true, to my mind that would be cheating.

      • QuantumRiff says:

        They take the beer, and lower it to a temperature where the water freezes, but the alcohol does not. then they carefully remove the ice, and keep behind the alcohol stuff. you have to be exact, and make sure that its just water your removing, and not yeast, hops, and other minerals i the water. its a very slow process, apparently.

        • johnva says:

          That’s just freeze distillation, so it’s questionable to even refer to this as “beer” rather than “hard liquor” if that’s what they’re doing. It’s not really any different than distilling it by boiling (the results are different, but it has the same end result of artificially concentrating the alcohol). In my view, it doesn’t really “count” unless the alcohol content is produced directly by the yeast.

          • RxDude says:

            It’s a technique with quite a bit of history in beermaking. Google “eisbock”.

          • RxDude says:

            Also, it is quite different from heat distillation. Heat distillation separates the ethanol from everything else, resulting in a clear product (the color of whiskey, scotch, bourbon, etc comes from the aging barrels). Freeze distillation removes water and leaves everything else, thereby increasing the concentration of alcohol.

            Probably would have made a single post if I hadn’t just consumed a couple glasses of my own homebrew…

        • Humward says:

          Well that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to be done — but the rumor (and, again, it’s unsubstantiated) is that they’re doing that…and then adding whiskey.

  2. Hoss says:

    “You should see it as a joke” reads: it tastes like swill

  3. c!tizen says:

    at what point does it cease to be beer and start becoming jet fuel?

    Jeez, if you’re that hard up to get f’ked up just drink some 151, problem solved, money saved, alcohol poisoning possible, hangover guaranteed.

  4. barty says:


    I drink beer because I want something that doesn’t burn on the way down, not the other way around.

  5. benh999 says:

    How is this even beer? Is it not distilled? I thought the highest alcohol content possible by fermentation was in the neighborhood of 15%.

    • grumpskeez says:

      Nope. You can champagne yeast ferment to get up around 20%. Jumping up from there requires freeze distilling. Think of that as creating a reduction sauce only starting with a strong ale, freeze distilling, removing the ice/water and repeating.

      Cheers to knowledge gained!

  6. jimmyhl says:

    Sort of a twelve-ounce whiskey and soda served in a long neck. I make these at home.

  7. GuidedByLemons says:

    I’ll say it again: these are distilled spirits, not beers. Freeze distillation is still distillation.

    • johnva says:

      Yep. It’s just a marketing ploy to refer to it as “beer” instead of what it really is.

    • BeerFox says:

      Seriously. People don’t seem to understand why I’m not impressed by these. “But they got it to 60%!” “Yeah, and my local liquor store has hundreds and hundreds of other brands that also figured out the magical lost art of distillation. Why aren’t they getting headlines?”

    • hypodermicart says:

      Eisbock is a German beer style produced by freezing and removing water. It’s been around for over a century. According to legend, a lazy brewery worker didn’t take the beer barrels back in one cold night, and after the ice was removed (and the worker bitched at) it was discovered that the resulting beer was pretty damn good.

      This beer is just an absurd version of that style. In Europe you don’t need a distillers license to produce Eisbocks, so I don’t think they consider it a distilled product.

      • GuidedByLemons says:

        Eisbock is also a distilled spirit. It flies under the radar of some laws regulating spirits because it has a long tradition among beer brewers.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          That’s like saying that Tomato Sauce is actually a fruit purée and should be used in sweetened desserts, but it flies under the radar of dessert recipes because of the long history of its use in savoury dishes.

          Technically correct, but disingenuous.

          • GuidedByLemons says:

            What a terrible analogy. We’re talking about classification systems (is eisbock really a “beer”?), not fitness for a particular purpose (does ketchup taste good in desserts?). I’m having a “we are all stupider for having heard it” moment here about your comment.

            Strong freeze-distilled “beers” may not be regulated as distilled spirits in any given jurisdiction, but only because of holes in the law. Either accidental loopholes–you might imagine a law classifying as beer anything brewed from grain and not distilled specifically by boiling–or deliberate legal carve-outs for things like eisbock.

            Eisbock is not a true beer any more than applejack is a true hard cider. People think of it as a style of beer because it grew out of the beer brewing tradition, and because it’s typically not distilled to hard-liquor concentrations of alcohol.

            • GuidedByLemons says:

              Now you could imagine sensible beer vs. spirits regulations drawing a line at a certain ABV for freeze-distilled beers, but certainly that line would be well under 60% ABV.

              The product in the article, and others like it (from e.g. BrewDog) are celebrated as progressive advancement in the art of beer brewing, when in fact they are simply distilled spirits really deserving no more attention or accolade than any other high-alcohol distilled spirit. I guess it’s impressive that they took the time to freeze-distill their products to such high concentrations, but what they’re doing is not really relevant to the production of actual beer.

  8. JDR01 says:

    As an avid brewer these always interest me. For those that wonder how they do it, you start with a high ABV beer (12-15% percent or so) then freeze it. Scrape of the ice crystals as they form and viola. This is basicly beer concentrate.

    • zandar says:

      as an inquiring sort of person, your explanation is welcome, and quite interesting.

      as a consumer, I can only shake my head and ask “why?” No way would this interest me in the least.

  9. thekevinmonster says:

    But how does it taste? The strongest beers I’ve had are Avery Brewing’s original formulation of The Beast (which tasted like liquid pennies and pain), and Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA (Slightly more palatable but otherwise like drinking rubbing alcohol and tonic water.)

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      try Samiclause or la fin du monde (spell check not used).

      both @ 16% and also not so good.

      • GuidedByLemons says:

        Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde is not freeze distilled, and it’s only 9% ABV. Oh and also it’s awesome xD

    • varro says:

      Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is 13% ABV, and delicious.

      • GuidedByLemons says:

        My absolute favorite beer! The best part of moving recently was that I found 3 bottles of it that I’d forgotten about.

  10. Enduro says:

    I was at a local watering hole and was offered one of these abominations. I tried a couple sips of one and it was more like brandy than beer. It wasn’t too harsh tasting but I didn’t find it all that pleasant. I’d rather have scotch and water or a beer with a sidecar of Tullamore Dew. I have a feeling these will go the way of Captain Morgan and Smirnoff malt beverages when the novelty wears off.

  11. blinky says:

    How does the yeast survive?

  12. moorie679 says:

    They might as well just go ahead and add beer flavor with a tad of brown food coloring and call it a day since this is where this is headed….same idea with razors…..first it was 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, now we got 4 with a trimmer and eventually we are going to end up with razors as big as cheese graters with 20 blades on em……..with that one you only need to shave once every 10 years……

  13. jaredwilliams says:

    You can ferment beer more than once though. It’s still not distilled. It also depends on the elements used in the beer. I just brewed a beer that I made stop fermenting because I didn’t want to turn it into a Harpoon Leviathin. It’s 10.5% just fermenting it twice, pitching yeast twice.

    • GuidedByLemons says:

      You cannot achieve anything remotely like 60% by fermentation. By re-pitching with more alcohol-tolerant yeast not usually used in beer you can get up to maybe 20%. This “beer”, and others like it, are produced by making a high-ABV beer and then distilling it by fractional freezing.

    • jaredwilliams says:

      ahh so that’s how they get it THAT high. Highest i’ve brewed was 11 so I didn’t know for sure, a rep from sam adams said utopia was brewed differently than what you said, but that’s only like 27% or something

  14. jaredwilliams says:

    Sam Adams Utopia comes out every two years and is 20% ABV, 199-250 a bottle.

  15. Rhainor says:

    I didn’t think it was possible to get higher than about 25% with fermentation only; thought it took distillation to get that high (which makes it not beer anymore).

  16. Student Boy says:

    I had no idea the consumerist had so many booze snobs. Give me this, give me a 6-pack of Coors. Either way im good.