World’s Strongest Beer at 57.8% ABV

by Karl | Updated: January 1, 2021

Transcript: Johnny, biggest beer here in the world mate. I can’t wait. Get us the beer. No problem. I got off good here. Look at how cute it is.

Hey, biggies. And welcome to what must be the most ridiculous video we’ve ever made. And we’ve made some ridiculous videos in our time.

It’s certainly pushing the envelope in terms of like what a beer can be. Yeah, absolutely. And what it can’t be possibly.

Um, so this, this thing in front of us, this is the strongest beer in the world. It’s called strength in numbers. It’s a co-lab between BrewDog and Schorschbrau. At some point at some point, um, which is the strongest beer, not the biggest beer, but the strongest beer in the world at 57.8%.

Quick bit of context. Whiskey is very rarely that strength, gin never that strength, vodka is petrol at that point, right? Rum, Oak proof rum is about the only thing I can think of that might reach 60% and blow your head off. Yeah, yeah. Looking forward to that.

So, so this is the product of about a decade worth of experimentation, not just by BrewDog, but by Schorschbrau as well. So there’s two breweries who got involved in what can only be described as a drunken arms race.

It was certainly a story of gentlemenly or un-gentlemenly one-upmanship, yeah. Gentlemenly one-up-manship and, but then every now and then there’d be a reference to the war. Um, which probably isn’t okay.

So let’s take you through this little story. We’ve actually got an interview with the founder of BrewDog Martin Dickie coming up, but he can spin one hell of a yarn about this. So we thought we were going to have a 10 minute interview. We got well over half an hour with him. So if you want to hear the full story, you want to hear him tell it, then we’ve got a podcast coming out very, very soon.

But until that point you’re lumbered with me and Brad filling in the gaps.

So this starts, this whole story starts with tactical nuclear penguin. Which was in about 2009. And it was an ice distilled beer. Tell me about ice distillation brother.

Ice Distillation Process

So basically ice distillation is a process whereby you freeze beer and alcohol takes longer to freeze than the water in the beer. So the water freezes and you take that water out and you’re left with stronger alcohol essentially. And you can kind of keep doing this to a certain point. Uh, well you just end up with a boozy, very boozy slushy, very boozy slushy.

And that’s an Eisbock, essentially. Yeah, exactly.

The Arms Race

So BrewDog did this, not like the Germans had in the past to, you know, maybe 8-9% just do it once. BrewDog did it three times we reckon and reached about 31-32% with their world’s strongest beer.

Yes, they were, they were record chasing weren’t they? They were, they were. Like a try and trying to get on the old marketing train is as is BrewDog want.

Now a brewery in Germany saw that this was happening and when we can do that, only better. Um, so they you’re going to say it brewery right now. I can’t say the name. So Schorschbrau, they made one to 40%. 40 a Boch. So the traditional style, but they took it to 40%.

So it just obliterated the nuclear penguin. Absolutely absolutely dropping bombs on the nuclear penguin. The arms race started in, in all realness at that point. Exactly.

So BrewDog, then not wanting to be out done, not wanting to lose the headlines, came out with “sink the Bismarck” uh, uh, which was a couple of percent stronger, maybe in just 1%. So Schorschbrau came out with another one, uh, that was maybe only a percent bigger than that.

So BrewDog, they were just ice distilling in a localized cream factory. They were, they decided to up their game and they bought what was referred by Martin as a medical medical fridge?

Which he said cost more than a fermentor. And we can’t work out what it was supposed to be used for, but it’s, it’s either sperm or it’s maybe hearts? It went now it went down to minus 170. So, uh, is it minus 80? Was it 80? I don’t know. There’s a lot of numbers. It’s called Strength in Numbers. I thought it was 80 degrees.

And that’s the point where we are going to join Martin in this video so he can tell us what happened next. Enter Martin.

So we, okay. We need to raise the bar so high that it’s done and they’re not getting messed about anymore. They’ll say well done. Or, uh, win the bar shot won. Um, but we got, yeah, so we took it to 55% alcohol. Uh, it, it took us forever. We ended up with like, um, a lot of like burns in our fingers from when you, so obviously we were in a thousand liter totes before, when we were doing it for the ice cream factory.

Where now you’re talking, you were talking about 20 liter, um, you know, the whole damage on things, you know, the bottles, there’s 11 bottles and total, there was a nine taxidermy and four types of dormant taxidermy squirrels.

Um, and that, that beer was the end of history. And we thought that was done and dusted, you know, we don’t need to, we can put our medical freezer away and we don’t need to do anything else.

And then shortly after Schorschbrau had this, uh, I don’t know what it did. It must have had a, uh, when it was marked in groups where they sit and think about names, but it came back and they called it Schorschbrau short spot 57.

So yeah, they beat us again. A lot of time went into that. Yeah.

I said they are pretty clever. It can make the beer to that percentage, to be honest.

Yeah. Then we’ll focus on the tech yeah.

Marketing department, not so much, but the process. So yeah, they did 57 and we started coming back again. And, um, we had Belgium, hoppy, Belgian, golden, strong, golden ale that we started making. And this was going to be our, we have our Swan song at 57.1% or something like that.

Still believing you can win because, you are like, this will be the last one.

Oh, we still thought we would get them. But then, you know, at that time we were beginning the process of moving breweries and more super busy. We couldn’t keep up with production as it was. Um, and so we made this beer, we started freezing and we’re like, we just have to put aside just now. We’ll maybe come back in six months once we get at the time, but we never, we never got that bit of time back.

So this beer went into bottle after it was frozen. We frozen it like once, maybe twice, it was like 20 mid 20%, um, and went back into bottle and stayed in bottle. And then, you know, we find that back in 2015, mid to late 2015, it was in our bottle store. Thrown it to the back of the bottle store.

2015, we’re going to do a cleared out of our bottle store. And we find these 10 or 11 bottles at the back of the store, which were, you know, this half iced distilled, um, big Belgium golden strong ale.

And we tasted it and it was really, really cool. It was like really great bottles, that it went into and had been in there for best part of like three, four years. So that was what became Death for glory. And we sold, you know, the majority of that beer, everything minus one bottle, um, uh, over the next couple of years, you know, it was the original one in 2015 and subsequent ones.

And so, um, and we were left with this one bottle left in our, in our store. And that, you know, I guess the world hasn’t been going in, in an ideal direction for the last couple of years with, with climate change, with, you know, I think our governments and every side of the Atlantic and, um, you know.

We thought, well, maybe, maybe we could revisit this program, But, you know, I think what the world doesn’t need is more, more separation and more angst, more whatever, pretend huge feuds, wherever you want to call it.

Um, so we thought maybe it would be a much better way if we collaborate together, um, and see if we can make something that’s, uh, stronger than has ever been made. So that was, that was the whole, the whole premise per se, of lots of the Beer notes.

So, so small. Yeah, exactly.

Um, so that was what strength in numbers was, uh, which when we started work on at the back end of last year, we got to March time or just before March when we filmed a little bit in the brewery and we sent our bottle across to Schorschbrau, George, and he was going to do his part and we’ll get blend the beers together and take up to new heights in terms of where our strong beer can be.

Um, but yeah, Life got in the way and travel and everything became very difficult. So we sent the bottle and thankfully Schorschbrau, to be honest, the brains behind the whole strong beer thing, uh, took it to a new height of 57.8% alcohol.

So what are you on? I think you can see why we, we had to do a podcast to fit that whole amazing story in. Yeah. And there’s other, lots of wonderful other moments like where the lights go out on him. Cause he’s been talking for so long, but not moving and stuff like that.

Um, so I guess the time has come to taste this amazing blend of four, four year barrel-aged golden ale and an eisboch, uh, roughly 50, actually, I don’t know how strong it was at that point. Maybe they started from scratch. Cause they weren’t, it wasn’t their turn to no, it wasn’t their turn to one up. Yeah. They just pulled out of the bag. Exactly.

So I like the story. I liked the fact that they went, hey, the world doesn’t need this much divisiveness, let let’s team up and let’s win this together. Europe together strong.

I think the real winners are going to be us. So this is 40 milliliters of beer. Brad, you did some math. I did do some math Johnny. Um, I worked out if you were to order a pint of this at your local BrewDog bar, if they served a pint of it. Yeah. It would cost just over 400 pounds. So it cost 400 pounds. And indeed, if you drank it your life, your life quite possibly your sanity without doubt.

So we’re only going to get 20 mils of this four 440 mil can glasses. Now I’ve never opened a cork quite like that one. Yeah. Not quite sure what this is about. It’s a cheeky little sort of grosch style top. Do you reckon if I just push it, it will go? I feel like you’re going to smash the glass if you do.

Oh, I’m scared Johnny. Okay. I need to know these guys. Right? How, how do I know what half this is? Oh, it’s goopy. I can’t even smell it. It’s too thick.

Okay. Let’s see what we got on the aroma. I’m getting umami from here. Oh, bloody hell really? Trickily I don’t know if he knows. He saw Johnny. I mean, he’s got booze on it. There’s loads of soy sauce on that loads of what is probably autolysis.

Booz + toffee. Come on, give me some more notes other than wows and eyes watering and, and sounding like a smoker.

I mean, sometimes I make dolphin noises. This, this is actually I think so when I began doing the cinnamon challenge, getting high or something off of that, it’s the fumes of this alone. Whoa, maybe overwhelming bloody hell. Yeah man.

Let’s take a sip. I’m not just gonna, this isn’t a university shot situation. Oh, it burns all the way. I’m just overwhelmed by that, all the way down. I mean, I’m quite enjoying the experience despite the fact I’m going. Wow.

But, are you’re crying brad? Yeah. I kind of can’t even tell you what it tastes like because my tongue is gone numb, numb after the burn, after the forest fire. Yeah.

Honestly, if you, if you gave me some sushi, I’d dunk it in that. That’s great. Yeah. It’s it’s really sweet soy sauce with a massive alcohol birth. It’s like raison, trickle soy sauce, pain.

You’re well-known for say, say any mommy quite a lot. Yeah. This is, it’s a drinking game now. This is yeah. I saw that.

Uh, this is Ooo-mommy. Thanks. Um, on, uh, I would, I would say on a plate, you can almost put it on a plate. It’s so thick. It’s like, it’s like a bloody millipede, so many legs. It’s incredibly reasoning. It’s it is rum and reason.

Um, now I’ve had a chance to like take it in a bit more. It’s pretty, it feels volatile. Yeah. Yeah. Make a really small molitov cocktail from this. So more of a warning Molotov cocktail, like I’ve got bigger ones. I’ve got big ones if I need them.

Yeah. I, I must say I really enjoy it. This is, this is the sort of beer that is a once in a lifetime experience. You’re not going to drink this every day, but this is hell of a lot of fun.

I think, I think there’s a lot of complexity to it. Hmm. Balance is not a word you could ever use with this, but there is definite Oak character on the tongue. Like there is tan in there.

What do you think? I mean, we know what Martin’s interest in this is, it’s both scientific and it’s marketing, it’s promotion. A lot of fun. I admire BrewDog for pushing the boundaries in a lot of the sort of things they do. At the minute it’s a lot of environmental stuff, so good on you lads. But cheers to that.

Um, you know, I love the fact that they’re, they’re, they’re still pursuing one of the things that they pursued very early on, which is strongest beer in the world. Like a lot of, a lot of, uh, other breweries might’ve gone, you know, we’ve done that now. We’ll move on to the point where they spent, God knows how many grand on a fridge.

Most people, most accountants seem to go like now maybe leave it there guys. Yeah. They just shows you, I think they’re great at telling stories Brewdog. And this is, this has gotta be one of their sort of longest running narratives and longest running jokes.

Yeah. What about you, Johnny?

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.