Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘American Strong Ale’

Epic Beer Night

December 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

The creme del a creme were on hand for Beer Nerd Night

Something was in the air this past Tuesday night. Maybe it carried over from the Infinium Release Party, but Beer Nerd Show & Tell was something special. Epic was the theme for this evening’s lineup.

Samuel Adams Utopias (2009); Boston Beer Company; Boston, MA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 27.0. The first beer presented by Mark. The 2009 edition is definitely something special. Caramel in color with big notes of sweet caramel, vanilla spices, and an oaky cognac like backbone. Utopias has a nice candy like feel to it and is very warming.

Keegan Ales Super Kitty; Keegan Ales; Kingston, NY; American Strong Ale; ABV: 12.0. The second beer presented by Mark. Pours a deep amber color with notes of sweet caramel and honey balanced by a smokiness from the oak chips used in the brewing process. Super Kitty is comparable to a barley wine in taste and feel.

Captain Lawrence Cuvee De Castleton; Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.0. Presented by Dan. Pours a golden orange color, with considerable notes of Brettanomyces yeast and Muscat grapes complimented by malted barley. Cuvee De Castleton has a buttery Chardonnay like character from being aged in French oak barrels.

Dogfish Three Floyds Poppaskull (Dogfish Head Brewery; Milton, DE; Belgian Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. Presented by Bret. The collaboration ale between DFH and the Munster, Indiana brewery. Poppaskull is golden in color, with notes of cardomom spices and sweet malt balanced by floral hops and a warm brandy like presence from the barrel aging process.

Northern Brewery Twisted Ankle; Northern Brewery; Sarasota, FL; American Blonde Ale; ABV: 5-6%?. Home brewers Stu and Jemma presented their ale. Nice citrusy notes and very easy to drink with a crisp clean aftertaste. Twisted Ankle reminded me of a saison such as Ommegang Hennepin.

Old Flannagan Brewery 9-9-9; Old Flannagan Brewery; Sarasota, FL; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 6-7%?. Homebrewed and presented by Chris. Aged in Hungarian oak barrels, this sour ale has subtle notes of tart fruit and vanilla spices with an earthy wood backbone. 9-9-9 reminded me of Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne.

Cigar City Or; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.2. Presented by yours truly. Brewed in the trendy Cascadian dark ale style, these ale is part of the Either/Or collaboration with Danish brewery Grassroots and Vermont brewery Hill Farmstead. Or is chocolate in color, with substantial notes of piny hops complimented by roasted malt and chocolate with a woody feel from the cedar barrel aging.

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout – Brandy Barrel Aged; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5. The first limited edition CCB beer presented by Meat. It pours a deep black color, with considerable notes of caramel and dark chocolate complimented by dark fruit, roasted malt, and vanilla spices. The brandy presence is brought out by the barrel aging. Takes its place among my favorite imperial stouts.

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Brandy Barrel Aged; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5. The second limited edition CCB beer presented by Meat. Created from their Marshall Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, it’s jet black in color, with big notes of expresso and dark chocolate balanced by roasted malt, vanilla beans, and peppery spices. There’s a nice brandy backbone from the barrel aging. One of the best imperial stouts on the planet.

My thanks to everyone who participated in the Beer Nerd Show & Tell, and for their generosity in sharing some truly exceptional beers. It made for an Epic Beer Night!

99 Bottles of Beer: Part Deux

October 10th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Unplugged Cherry Stout was one of the evening's highlights

As was the Troegenator

Anne and I attended 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall Part 2 at Mr. Beery’s on Friday night. We were on vacation when the first one took place, and were fortunate enough to catch this one. For $20 apiece, we each received some nice glassware and participated in sampling beers 51-99.

In addition to trying some old favorites, I had the opportunity to sample many new beers for the first time. Some that truly stood out are listed below.

Bullfrog Double Coffee Stout; Bullfrog Brewery; Williamsport, PA; American Stout; ABV: 7.3. This stout was actually brought in as a growler by Dave, and was the first beer sampled. A rich mocha color, with sublime notes of Expresso coffee complimented by dark chocolate and roasted malt. Very creamy and delicious, DCS has the feel of an imperial stout to it.

New Belgium Lips of Faith – Eric’s Ale; New Belgium Brewing Co.; Fort Collins, CO; American Wild Ale; ABV: 7.0. A superb sour ale. Amber in color, with big notes of tart fruit such as cherries and green apples with a crisp clean finish.

New Glarus Unplugged Cherry Stout; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 6.5. A delicious, full-bodied cherry stout. Chocolate in color with big notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by chocolate and sweet malt. This stout would make an excellent dessert beer.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 5.1. One of the brewery’s signature beers. This deep red ale has outrageous notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by an oaky backbone and a tart finish similar to a sour ale. Like drinking a black cherry soda with a kick!

Port Brewing Older Viscosity; Port Brewing Co.; San Marcos, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 12.0. This jet black strong ale is aged in bourbon barrels, and the substantial notes of bourbon are very apparent throughout the beer, with a very nice oakiness in the background from the aging process. There’s hints of chocolate and vanilla spices as well, and the potency of this ale is very apparent. Older Viscosity reminds me of Ola Dubh on steroids!

Real Ale Sisyphus; Real Ale Brewing Co.; Blanco, TX; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.5. A smooth, full-bodied barley wine. There were three vintage bottles on hand (2007, 2008, 2009), with the 2008 offering being the best. Sisyphus is copper in color and the notes of honey, caramel malt, and piny hops are perfectly balanced.

Sixpoint Grand Crue; Sixpoint Craft Ales; Brooklyn, NY; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 12.4. A rich, oak aged strong ale. Big notes of caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit with a bourbon feel in the backbone. Quite smooth for a beer of its potency.

SKA Modus Hoperandi IPA; SKA Brewing; Durango, CO; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8. Continuing a trend in the craft beer industry, this IPA comes in a can. Amber in color with generous notes of Cascade and floral hops complimented by caramel malt. Very crisp and refreshing.

Surly Brutal Bitter; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; Premium Bitter/ESB; ABV: 4.2. Another excellent canned beer, this is a very creamy and malty ESB. Light amber in color with the rich malty presence balanced by sweet caramel and floral hops.

Surly Furious; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2. Continuing the trend of superb canned beers, this is an absolute hop bomb. The huge notes of citrusy and piny hops are apparent throughout this ale, with a slight bitterness at the end. Furious has the feel of an Imperial IPA to it.

Tröegs Trogenator; Tröegs Brewing Co.; Harrisburg, PA; Dopplebock; ABV: 8.2. A truly outstanding dopplebock. Deep mahogany in color and tasty as hell, with big notes of sweet caramel complimented by dark fruit and cinnamon spices.

Wachusett Green Monsta; Wachusett Brewing Co.; Westminster, MA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. Named after the famed wall at Fenway Park, this complex APA is like a strong ale mixed with an IPA. Light copper in color with notes of sweet malt balanced by caramel and citrusy hops.

Kudos to Mark for his generosity and for putting together such a wonderful evening.

This Is The End

July 30th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

This Squirrel and Stoat are hopefully The End of History

The race for the World’s Strongest Beer has gotten carried away, and it looks like at least one brewery in the competition finally gets it. BrewDog has once again put out the latest pacesetter, but has stated that this will be their final foray into pushing the limits of alcohol content.

BrewDog The End of History (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland; Belgian Strong Ale; ABV: 55.0), a blonde Belgian strong ale, was released in bottles stored in stuffed animals; about a dozen apiece for the Stoat and Gray Squirrel. At £500 and £700 apiece, they retailed for roughly $800 and $1100 at current exchange rates, and were the most expensive beers ever produced as well. Despite the expense, all of the bottles sold out as soon as they became available.

Hopefully this will truly be the end of history. Maybe Schorschbräu, which had recently been on top with their 43% eisbock, will produce a 56% or even 60% and that will end the madness.

With an alcohol content of 55%, The End of History more than doubled the potency of Samuel Adams Utopias, which at 27% was the benchmark less than two years ago.

Update: No sooner had I wrote this post, that Dutch brewery Het Koelschip returned to the top of the heap with a beer called Start The Future. Start The Future is reported to have an ABV of 60%, and like The End Of History, to be a Belgian strong ale.

Here We Go Again

May 6th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Schorschbräu fires back...the race to 50% is on

No sooner had BrewDog recaptured the World’s Strongest Beer title with their BrewDog Sink The Bismarck, a 41% ABV quadruple IPA, that brewery Kleinbrauerei Schorschbräu countered with Schorschbräu Schorschbock 43%. Like 31% and 40%, this beer is an eisbock, and Schorschbräu is even toying with the idea of brewing a 50% bock! 43% will have a limited release of 100 bottles, although it may not be available to U.S. or Canadian markets.

It’ll be interesting to see if and when BrewDog answers this latest challenge from Schorschbräu. The German brewery took a mild swipe at them with the Pussian helmet, a favorite of Bismarck, as well as issuing the line “cause Frankonian Men don’t dress like girls”, an obvious reference to Scottish kilts.

And finally, it’s worth noting that Samuel Adams Utopias, once the strongest beer in the world and still America’s pacesetter at 27% ABV, now ranks a “mere” 10th worldwide.

A Brew to Swear By

April 28th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Enjoy a WTF with your BFF

I had the good fortune to try a Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Co.; Petaluma, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 7.8) the other day. Affectionately called WTF by most people, it’s a limited release by the brewery and definitely lives up to its billing.

WTF pours a dark reddish brown and the nose is a blend of piny hops and sweet caramel. Both are very apparent in the taste as well, complimented by chocolate and roasted malt with a nice kick at the finish. WTF is a very smooth ale and quite easy to drink. It even reminds me a bit of Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale.

All in all, I swear that WTF is a very enjoyable and full bodied ale.

Making My Case

February 20th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Green Flash Imperial IPA makes a strong case

Another year, another Best Beers list. I decided to do a new slant on this year’s All-Time Favorites post, and create my dream case. The criteria is as follows:

a. Retired beers have been omitted. Ales such as DuClaw Repent, Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA, and Thomas Hardy’s Ale were among my favorites, but I want to list beers that are currently available to everyone.

b. Extreme beers, e.g. ABV of 20% or more, have been omitted as well. Samuel Adams Utopias and BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin have more in common with a liquor than a conventional beer.

c. I’ve limited the list to one beer per brewery. This not only prevents the list from getting too top heavy with certain breweries, e.g. St. Bernardus, DFH, Stone, etc., but also allows me to feature some excellent regional brews as well. Although one beer on this list, Life & Limb, is a collaboration between DFH & Sierra Nevada, it’s technically considered to be brewed from the latter and will be listed under that brewery.

And now, without further adieu, is my Ultimate Case, 2010 Edition:

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen; Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla; Bamberg, Germany; Rauchbier; ABV: 5.4. Brewed in the classic rauchbier tradition, this marzen has an incredible smoky nose and taste to match. The big hickory smoke bite reminds me of smoked bacon, sausage, etc., and there’s a hint of malt and light hops as well.

Anchor Old Foghorn; Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 8.8. An exceptional barley wine from Anchor Brewing. The toffee and sweet caramel malt is balanced by dark fruit, citrusy hops, & spices. This ale has the taste and feel of a classic English barley wine.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. Wunderbar!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. An absolute hop bomb! The uber hoppy presence is well balanced by sweet malt and a taste of honey. Truly one of the best IPAs out there.

Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. A smooth & crisp tasting Belgian style ale. There’s a nice array of floral hops and Belgian spices, with a slight peppery finish at the end.

Brooklyn Black OPS; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0. A truly outstanding Russian Imperial stout from Brooklyn. A wonderfully complex mix of chocolate, roasted malt, and spices. Like a chocolate milkshake with a kick!

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0. An excellent old ale from the outstanding brewery Cigar City. There’s a hint of tobacco up front, followed by an array of chocolate, caramel malt, sweet fruit, and cinnamon spices with a slightly bitter finish.

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8. A big, bold hop bomb. The citrusy hops hit you up front, and are balanced by sweet caramel & a piney finish.

Dogfish Squall IPA; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. An unfiltered, bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped version of their 90 Minute IPA. The taste is bold and complex. There’s a gust of citrusy, piney, and spicy hops up front, complimented by sweet caramel and a malty presence at the end.

Green Flash Imperial IPA; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. Smooth, nutty, & spicy. A crisp citrusy burst up front, complimented by sweet malt and a piney hops finish. Another of the classic West Coast IPAs.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. A superior ale aged in a 16 year old whiskey cask. The hint of whiskey is complimented by chocolate, dark malt, and vanilla spices. Similar to an Imperial Porter, it’s very smooth and robust with an exceptional finish.

La Caracole Saxo; Brasserie Caracole; Farmignoul, Belgium; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. An incredibly smooth Belgian strong pale ale. The 8% ABV isn’t noticeable, and the sweet malt taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light fruit, and spices. Saxo finishes crisp and clean, and I could drink this ale all day.

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale; New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 5.5. While their excellent Fat Tire is better known, this is actually the best beer crafted by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate.

Ommegang Ommegeddon; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another outstanding Belgian style ale from Ommegang. This saison is very crisp and refreshing. There’s a nice bite of tart and citrusy fruit up front, balanced by Brettanomyces yeast, sweet malt, and grassy hops with a clean dry finish.

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. While the alcohol is a bit more noticeable than their original Dead Guy Ale, it still compliments the sweet malt, caramel, & cascade hops to deliver a rich & smooth tasting beer. In short, as enjoyable as the original maibock, but more complex & certainly with more of a kick.

Russian River Pliny The Elder; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another big & bold IPA with a surprisingly smooth taste. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean.

Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.0. The quintessential English porter. A creamy, coffee tasting beer balanced by hints of chocolate & malt.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find this beer, but the hunt was definitely worth it! This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. This pick surprised me, as I’m always singing the praises of their Southern Tier Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0). Pumking, however, is quite simply the best of the pumpkin ales and deserves to be on this list. It’s bold & spicy with a wonderful pumpkin taste from start to finish. There’s even a hint of pie crust in the flavor! For my hop-head moments, I would substitute this choice for Unearthly, which is quite possibly the best IPA around. A wonderful full bodied ale, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. It’s very smooth for a hop bomb!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6. An absolutely outstanding Belgian strong ale. Brewed on a limited basis annually, Epic is both smooth and complex. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, vanilla, orange peel, and spices.

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. The gold standard of Belgium quads, and one of the world’s best beers period.

Terminal Gravity IPA; Terminal Gravity Brewing Co.; Enterprise, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9. This IPA has a big reputation in the Northwest, and it’s well deserved. The big citrusy hops up front are complimented by hints of caramel & a sweet malt finish.

Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine; Three Floyds Brewing Co.; Munster, ID; Barley Wine; ABV: 12.5. An superb offering from the acclaimed Three Floyds Brewery. Behemoth has a sweet caramel taste up front, which is complimented by hints of tart fruit, raisins, roasted malt, and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Tripel Karmeliet; Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4. An absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices.

Honorable Mention 6-Pack:

Boundary Bay Imperial IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5. This IPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piney finish.

BrewDog Dogma; BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 7.8. A very crisp and drinkable beer. The taste is well balanced between the sweet malt, honey, kola nut, poppy seed, guarana, and spices with a nice clean finish. Its alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t noticeable, so Dogma has the feel of a session beer.

DuClaw Devil’s Milk; DuClaw Brewing Co.; Bel Air, MD; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. A very potent barley wine. The sweet caramel malt is well balanced by dark fruit and citrusy hops.

Ellicott Mills Bock of the Bat; Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.; Ellicott Mills, MD; Maibock; ABV: 7.0. Brewed in the classic Alpenhof style of beer. An excellent bock with a roasted, malty taste balanced with dark fruit.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; India Pale Ale; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. This is a crisp, smooth tasting IPA. The citrusy hops, particularly grapefruit, is noticable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY; Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0. This is an excellent Russian imperial stout, with the rich milk chocolate taste complimented by coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Ten FIDY packs a punch at 10% ABV, so it’s definitely a beer to be savored!

Top Tier

January 30th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Southern Tier will be among the headliners at Brewgrass

The 3rd Annual Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival will be held next Saturday, February 6, 2010. The event will feature live bands in addition to beer tasting. More than 50 breweries will be on hand, with several new ones appearing such as Goose Island, Victory Brewing, and Southern Tier.

I’m especially excited by Southern Tier, since they’re finally going to be distributed in Florida. This brewery makes my favorite pumpkin ale (Pumking) and quite possibly my favorite IPA (Unearthly). So I was excited when given the chance recently to try their Southern Tier Cuvée Series 2 (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; American Strong Ale; ABV: 11.0).

Cuvee is a wonderfully eclectic ale. There’s an almost crème brûlée feel to it, and I would enjoy Cuvee as a dessert beer. The rich chocolate taste up front is complimented by molasses, roasted malt, spicy hops, and vanilla with a sweet caramel finish. Cuvee is aged in oak barrels, so there’s a hint of oakiness as well. This ale is very smooth considering its 11% ABV, so it’s one to be savored slowly.

For more information on Brewgrass, please see the following link:

I hope to see you there!

Nuclear Fallout

January 21st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 5 comments

Penguin may cause you to duck and cover

At a certain point, you begin to wonder what constitutes a beer. The strongest beer that I’ve had, that still tasted like a beer, was Dogfish 120 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 21.0). Albeit it was like their 90 Minute IPA on steroids. Prior to ordering Tactical Nuclear Penguin (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Imperial Stout; ABV: 32.0), the strongest beer that I’d sampled was Samuel Adams Utopias (Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 27.0). This ale, which is still the strongest beer brewed in the U.S., tasted more like a brandy or cognac.

So I was really curious about Penguin. I tried it initially in a 2 oz. sniffer at home, then shared a bottle with my friends and bartenders at World of Beer last Sunday during the Cowboys-Vikings game. Their opinions ran the gauntlet, from “wonderfully complex” to “it tasted like paint thinner”!

Penguin is definitely an acquired taste, with a megaton of alcohol right from the start. It reminds me a lot of a Scotch whiskey, with underlying notes of caramel, licorice, and roasted malt with a smoky tobacco chaser. This is definitely the beer for scotch drinkers! I was somewhat overpowered by the initial tasting, but have tried it in 1 or 2 oz. samplings since opening the original bottle. Its complexity has started to grow on me.

No sooner had Penguin laid claim to being the World’s Strongest Beer, that a new contender to the throne has appeared. Kleinbrauerei Schorschbräu, the brewer that dethroned Utopias last year with their Schorschbräu Schorschbock 31% (Kleinbrauerei Schorschbräu; Gunsenhausen, Germany; Eisbock; ABV: 31.0), has reportedly put out another heavyweight called appropriately enough Schorschbräu Schorschbock 40% (Kleinbrauerei Schorschbräu; Gunsenhausen, Germany; Eisbock; ABV: 40.0). And there was a rumor floating around on the web that an unnamed Belgian brewer was toying with the idea of brewing the world’s first 50% ABV beer. The art of brewing has turned into an arms race!

The Nuclear Option

December 27th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

This penguin packs quite a punch

This penguin packs quite a punch

You’ve got to hand it to the Scots. The land that brought us bagpipes, golf, Scotch whiskey, and 007 can now lay claim to brewing the world’s strongest beer. Tactical Nuclear Penguin (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Imperial Stout; ABV: 32.0) is the latest creation from BrewDog, and at 32% ABV, it has surpassed Germany’s Schorschbräu Schorschbock (31% ABV) and that perennial pacesetter, Samuel Adams Utopias (27% ABV).

BrewDog has put out a limited release of Penguin for {35 ($56.70 at the latest $1.62 currency exchange rate), and I ordered a couple of 330ml bottles. Once I receive my order, I’ll be doing a review of Penguin in a future post.

A Matter of Life & Limb

December 15th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

An ale definitely worth going out on a limb for

An ale definitely worth going out on a limb for

I’ve been wanting to try Life & Limb (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2) since first hearing about it from my friend Wayne Mahaffey. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find it, but the hunt was definitely worth it. I was able to order a couple of 24 oz. bottles from Brewforia Beer Market (, the online beer store based out of Boise, ID.

This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version. This ale gets better with every sip, and the 10.2% ABV is hardly noticeable. All in all, Life & Limb lives up to its billing.

Kudos to Brewforia for having it in stock, and for putting together an online store with an excellent selection of hard to find beers.