Johnny and Brad taste test the new world record holder for strongest beer, Strength in Numbers by BrewDog and Schorschbrau. They share the full story behind the decade-long “drunken arms race” between the two breweries to make the world’s strongest beer.
Origins of Tactical Nuclear Penguin
In 2009, BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie shares that they created a 32% ABV beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin using an ice distillation process to generate publicity and break records.
To make it, they used an ice cream factory to freeze the beer three times, concentrating the alcohol each round. Martin explains it took a lot of experimentation over years to figure out the process.
Schorschbrau’s 40% ABV Eisbock
Seeing BrewDog’s success, German brewery Schorschbrau decided to one-up them with a 40% ABV eisbock. Brad explains eisbocks are made by freezing beer and removing water to leave higher alcohol.
By taking the traditional eisbock style to 40%, Schorschbrau “obliterated” the previous record. Martin felt they were “dropping bombs” on Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Back and Forth One-Upmanship
This kicked off a back-and-forth “arms race” between the two breweries. Martin describes it as “un-gentlemanly one-upmanship with occasional war references.”
BrewDog responded with 41% Sink the Bismarck. Schorschbrau later released Schorschbrau Schorschbock 57 at 57% ABV.
For Sink the Bismarck, BrewDog was still using an ice cream factory. For Schorschbock 57 they upgraded to a medical freezer over a fermenter, reaching -80C.
BrewDog’s Next Attempt: Death or Glory
Martin shares BrewDog started a Belgian golden ale to top 57% but got too busy expanding their brewery to finish it. The unfinished beer aged for 3-4 years in bottles.
When rediscovered in 2015, BrewDog sold it as Death or Glory. Only one bottle remained of the original batch.
Collaborating on Strength in Numbers
In 2021, BrewDog reached out to collaborate with Schorschbrau instead of competing. Together they blended the last Death or Glory with a Schorschbrau eisbock to create Strength in Numbers, hitting 57.8% ABV.
Reviewing the World’s Strongest Beer
Johnny and Brad describe intense aromas of umami, soy sauce and booze. The taste has massive alcohol burn, but also sweet, syrupy flavors like raisins, caramel and oak. The viscosity is nearly thick as sauce.
While too strong for regular drinking, it’s an impressive scientific achievement and fun once-in-a-lifetime experience. Kudos to BrewDog and Schorschbrau for pushing boundaries!