Want to know what the world’s strongest beers are? In honor of US National Beer Day on 7 April, here we’ll give you a full rundown on the 15 strongest beers in the world by ABV.
ABV means alcohol by volume, which is the global standard measurement for assessing the strength of an alcoholic beverage. The higher the ABV, the more alcohol a drink contains.
Even if you don’t know the ABV by name, you probably have some knowledge of what it means in regards to different beverages. For instance, you may expect wine to generally fall in the region of 12.5–13.5% ABV, whereas the most common commercial liquors like Vodka and Rum will be somewhere around the 40% mark.
Beer is generally quite light by comparison. The average ABV of beer is only 4.5%. However, some of the ones on this list will give even the strongest liquors a run for their money.
But before we get into it, did you know that it is possible to enjoy beer with dessert? National Beer Day is the perfect time to learn how, so click here to discover the unappreciated art of matching beers to sweet courses.
Now, without further ado, here are the strongest beers from around the world.
Brewmeister - Snake Venom
The world’s strongest beer was launched in 2013 by Scottish brewery, Brewmeister. Packing a massive 67.5% ABV, a bottle of Snake Venom doesn’t come cheap. This curious concoction is brewed with smoke peat malt and Champagne and ale yeasts, with the beer undergoing multiple freezings during fermentation in order to maintain its strength. Pure beer science.
Brewmeister - Armageddon
Brewmeister’s previous claim to the world’s strongest beer came in the form of Armageddon: a scene-shaking mash-up of beer and whisky. Brewed from crystal malt, wheat and flaked oats (porridge, anyone?), this innovative hybrid beer is about as Scottish as it gets. Even the water used is, like a good Scotch, sourced entirely from Scottish springs.
Photo by: Brett Jordan
Koelschip - Start the Future
Start the Future, from Dutch microbrewery Koelschip, isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it may not even be for people who actually enjoy beer. In terms of flavour, this is definitely one for the completionists. Maybe keep a bottle stored away on the off-chance you need to undergo an emergency home amputation.
BrewDog / Schorschbräu - Strength in Numbers
A nominally Belgian ale produced as a collaboration between Scottish (BrewDog) and German (Schorschbräu) breweries. The Strength in Numbers is a fairly new beer crafted by blending a Belgian golden ale aged for 10 years in whisky casks with an Eisbock – a beer made through a process of freezing and reblending the brew. While there are a few stronger beers out there (see above), the two breweries claim that this is, in fact, the world’s strongest made with traditional brewing methods.
Schorschbräu - Schorschbock 57% finis coronat opus
Schorschbräu took an earlier stab at reaching the number one spot before their collaboration with BrewDog. The Schorschbock 57 is a seriously fiery brew, only recommended for those with a throat of iron.
Rock Bottom Campbell - PT’s Punch
Now we’re starting to take it a little easier on the taste buds. Although only marginally weaker than the Strength in Numbers and Schorschbock, PT’s Punch is so-called for its fruity flavours – although it undeniably packs another type of punch too. Crafted by the Rock Bottom Campbell brewery in San Jose, this pale ale is infused with passion fruit, orange and guava. A good choice for a delirious summer afternoon. Just don’t forget to stop after one.
BrewDog - The End of History
For a brewery that likes to flaunt its punk credentials, it might be surprising that BrewDog boasts possibly the world’s most expensive beer, if not the strongest. This limited edition blond Belgian ale costs $780 a bottle and contains notes of juniper, mead and nettles. Oh yeah, and each bottle comes encased in a taxidermied squirrel.
Koelschip - Obilix
The ABV levels fall by a significant 10% at this point. Koelchip’s second entry on this list is named after French comic book hero Asterix’s muscular companion (it’s strong, you see), and took the beer world by storm upon its release. This one goes down a lot easier than Koelschip’s Start the Future, but you might struggle to find a bottle of this limited edition brew for sale, unfortunately.
Schorschbräu - Schorschbock 43
Schorschbräu hits the list again with the Schorschbock 43. Like the Schorschbock 57, however, the unsubtle and overtly fiery taste didn’t do much to win over beer fanatics.
BrewDog - Sink the Bismarck
The consistently provocative BrewDog claims its third spot on the list with that rarest of beasts: a quadruple IPA. Strength for strength’s sake is a divisive issue on the beer scene, but the Scottish brewery won over a fair few skeptics with their Sink the Bismarck, which is a top-tasting pale ale in spite of its liquor-level ABV.
Photo by: Bernt Rostad
Baladin - Esprit de Noel
The Esprit de Noel from the Piozzo-based brewery Baladin is Italy’s strongest beer. As befits a region better known for its wine production, this smooth, straw-coloured beer has been aged in oak caskets for 3 years and looks more like a bottle of Soave than a craft beer.
Struise - Black Damnation VI – Messy
This imperial stout stands out for being in the minority that uses a high alcohol content to enhance its flavour, rather than a mere gimmick. This gem from Belgium’s Struise brewery tastes like coffee, chocolate and peaty whisky all in one. A must-try for fans of dark beer.
Photo by: Bernt Rostad
BrewDog - Tactical Nuclear Penguin
Launched back in 2009, BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin was the world’s strongest beer at the time and arguably the one that triggered the current frenzied competition among microbreweries to craft the next strongest. It’s another dark and chocolatey stout – and quite a good one at that.
Photo by: Christer Edvartsen
Sam Adams - Utopias 2017
Another strong beer that prioritises taste where it could be shooting for more publicity. The Utopias 2017 from Sam Adams uses several strains of yeast and is aged in multiple barrels previously used to make all manner of liquors to achieve a fruity, malty, and subtle sweet flavour. Utopias is often best paired with a post-dinner dessert, like a pineapple upside-down cake or a sweet-glazed puff pastry. It can also work well with a strong-flavoured soup course like clam chowder.
DuClaw - Colossus
ABV: from 17.3% to 21.52%
Another strong representative of the United States, the Colossus from DuClaw is a clear, amber ale with notes of toffee, caramel, pear and cherry. It also taste great hot, so set aside a bottle for winter.
Want to learn more about beer for National Beer Day? Click here for all the beer buff crib notes you need to cram for April 7th.
Pairing Beer with Food
Many might see food-alcohol pairings as the province of wine snobs, but there is such a wide range of beers—from the head-throbbing, ultra-high ABV brews in the list above to the bubbly lightness of lagers—that it can make a big difference which one you chose to combine with your meal. A sound guideline for all selections is to match intensity levels, and here are a few examples as yeast for your creative culinary process:
- A lager will be at its best when paired to a milder meal, like chicken, salads, and light fish dishes.
- Amber or red ales are very versatile as mid-spectrum beers in both colour and intensity of flavour. They complement pizza, burgers, most seafood, and other dishes that aren’t overly brash.
- An IPA is very high on the bitterness scale and has a much more intense flavour, so it needs a bold dish it can’t completely overpower: Indian food, smoked brisket, or rich desserts.
- Stouts scale back the hops but pour on the malted flavours and are also best swilled with strong dishes like beef stew, long-aged cheese, or rich Mexican cuisine like mole.