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jayt90

High Alcohol Beers

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I have been able to get high alcoholic content beers, usually in cans, in Ontario, ever since Crest (10%) arrived two or three years ago from the U.K. It was joined by Faxe (8.4 to 10%) and others from the Netherlands , Alsace, and Ontario.

A couple actually taste quite good: Faxe 8.4 and Bavaria 8.6.

Does anyone have experience with these? Like them? How are they made? How can a content of 10% be achieved? Just wondering...

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There are some very good high alcohol content beers out there, and some very bad ones.

When my friend went to school at Queens U. in Ontario (Kingston) he and his housemates considered Faxe to be little more than malt liquor... and I can't say I was ever blown away by the taste, but this was the 10% version.

Not sure if they distribute into Canada or not, but a microbrewery here in Delaware (Dogfishhead) makes two excellent high alcohol content beers. One is their "Midas Touch" which even comes in a really cool tall grolsch style corked bottle. It is refreshing, a bit malty, but not overpowering.

The other (and my personal favorite) is there Immort Ale. The stuff comes out of the bottle in hues of very dark red and purple, has flavor hint of raisons, chocolate, coffee, yeast, malt, and a hope flavor that cuts through without being the forefront taste. Imagine what would happen if you took a great full flavored english ale, gave it all the depth of a stout, and an intense smokey background from the aging, oh, and it is 11%.

They also have two very high content beers that taste incredible, but aren't even availible year round in the home-state: 120 minute IPA (clocking it at over 20%) and Worldwide Stoute (at 18%).

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Unibroue makes several outstanding brews, ranging from the conventional 5% up to an imposing 10.5%. Lately I've been drinking that one a lot, a BIG-ass Abbey-style ale called "Terrible." It's very good; dark and rich with toasty notes, but still with that distinctively Belgian-styled fruitiness. One of the few beers which may be cellared for several years.

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too many favourites but i think Samichlaus is still one of my all time favs. 14% . goes down beautifully....like fine cognac in the beer world! but if you like Bavaria and the like i'm afraid you won't appreciate Samich. been drinking quite a few from Alsace lately. me likes!

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The problem, of course, with high alcohol beers is that they really sneak up on you. Downing just one 20%+ ABV beer is the equivalent of drinking almost a six-pack of regular beer...

And when you manage to put down a six pack of them... well, hey, you almost just downed two cases ;)

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I'm wondering how is the alcohol content used to determine if its a beer, malt liquor, or barley wine, (anything else?). Correct me if I'm wrong but I think anything above 8% is malt liquor, and anything above 12% is considered barley wine. Any input?

The strongest I had was a locally brewed barley wine at 12%. A little too strong for me to be drinking that often but it was flavorful. :wacko:


Edited by Evan (log)

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I'm wondering how is the alcohol content used to determine if its a beer, malt liquor, or barley wine, (anything else?).  Correct me if I'm wrong but I think anything above 8% is malt liquor, and anything above 12% is considered barley wine. Any input?

The strongest I had was a locally brewed barley wine at 12%.  A little too strong for me to be drinking that often but it was flavorful. :wacko:

Beer itself is not a style as it encompasses all beer styles. Beer style is not defined soley by ABV. ABV is only one characteristic used to define a style and there are many more styles than "malt liquor" or barleywine. A good text for learning about beer styles is the Association of Brewers' (now Brewers' Association) Beer Style Guidellines.

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That's a great link, beergirl.

Unfortunately a lot of confusion comes from totally unnecessary labelling laws which require that brewers put misleading information on the labels. I've seen doppelbocks called 'malt liquor', schwartzbiers called 'ale', and on and on- - it creates the impression that beer is bewed to AbV rather than to style.

Anyway- this may be an urban legend but I got it from a friend of mine who was brewing on the west coast in the early 90's- supposedly Sierra Nevada's legal crew requested that their barleywine Bigfoot be brewed with such a palate-killing dose of hops to make it that the consumer could not drink more than one or two at a time. Of course nowadays Bigfoot is hardly a radical beer- funny how times have changed...

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Most of the best ones come out during the holiday season.

Samichlaus (14 percent ABV) is one of my favorites.

Another high alcohol beer I like is EKU 28 (11 percent ABV)

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The dogfish 120 is excellent as is their world wide stout. The highest on record is Sam Adams Utopia weighing in at 24%. Unibroue from Canada makes some excellent beers as well. For the most part the high gravity/alcohol beers you want to serve warmer than you would a "regular" beer. Some would do well in a brandy snifter served warm and sipped like a cognac. The strong Belgians pair excellently with cheeses as well.

As far as how they are made... a few ways...

1. Add 2-3 times the amount of malt to the mash to get the needed sugars.

2. Add normal amounts of malt, but boil it away so you are left with more or less a reduction.

3. Ice beer - make your wort then freeze it and remove the ice - you will have a less watered down brew - this being stronger.

You will also need some really good or special high gravity yeast. This and a lot of oxygen during fermentation will help you achieve the high alcohol content.

Hope this helps some.

Cheers,

Chris


Edited by sylunt1 (log)

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FWIW- I found a shop that still has some 2005 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6% AbV) in stock and picked up a sixer to get a sense of where it is. I popped one open last night and took some notes:

This baby pours a mostly clear rich yet vivid brownish copper color with a dense tannish two-finger head.

Aroma is big- huge hops (resiny, citrusy) dominate but they are backed up by lots of caramel malt. I also pick up a blackberry-and-cream quality, hints of cocoa and, of course, alcohol.

Flavor is powerful- tons of malt and caramel at first, but the cocoa, berries and some nuts come right on afterwards. There is a gigantic bitterness cutting right through it all and there is a lingering finish of orange peel and alcohol.

I'm loving this beer right now- some of its abrasiveness of youth is gone and that lets some more complex characteristics come through, yet there is still some fire there as well. I'm going to get some more and hopefully I'll have the will power to cellar it until the wintertime.

---

Unibroue makes several outstanding brews, ranging from the conventional 5% up to an imposing 10.5%. Lately I've been drinking that one a lot, a BIG-ass Abbey-style ale called "Terrible." It's very good; dark and rich with toasty notes, but still with that distinctively Belgian-styled fruitiness. One of the few beers which may be cellared for several years.

It's been a few months since I've had a Unibroue Terrible but, man, that's a killer beer- well worth searching out.

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Beer itself is not a style as it encompasses all beer styles.  Beer style is not defined soley by ABV.  ABV is only one characteristic used to define a style and there are many more styles than "malt liquor" or barleywine.

All the legal requirements of the various states and countries do make things confusing.

I recently discovered, in CA, any fermented grain beverage with an ABV greater than 4%, (might have been 4.5,) cannot be called "beer" on its label. It has to be called ale or something else.

-Erik

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I think many of the best beers in the world have alcohol percentages around 10%. Most notable are the Strong Belgian Ales, like those made by the Trappist Monks. My personal favorite beer in the world, also the highest-rated beer on http://www.ratebeer.com (with 620 ratings), is Westvleteren 12.

The highest alcohol-percentage beer I've had, I think, is Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (18% alcohol). It's easy to find bottles of this for around $10 in many cities. It's definitely worth trying--tastes like thick, luscious chocolate-covered bananas. I don't remember it being overly alcoholic.

How do they make beers so alcoholic? I think it's simply more malt and less water. Indeed, these high alcohol ales are generally much maltier and less hoppy than what most people consider "beer."

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Unfortunately a lot of confusion comes from totally unnecessary labelling laws which require that brewers put misleading information on the labels. I've seen doppelbocks called 'malt liquor', schwartzbiers called 'ale', and on and on- - it creates the impression that beer is bewed to AbV rather than to style.

The reason for doublebocks being called malt liquors is that some states in the US require that any lager over X% alcohol be labeled a malt liquor. When Sierra Nevada was bottling their maibock, I saw malt liquor on the label. I have even seen lagered German wheat beers be called malt liqour on the label.

I remember a story in the Philly Inquirer about a group complaining about the evils of malt liquor. One of the beers in the photo was EKU 28 from Germany.

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I hadn't realized there were so many options available now. Is this an example of malt liquor becoming gentrified?? :) I remember a time when the only sort of beer stronger than 5% or so was stuff that people drank out of brown paper bags, the occasional European curiosity aside.

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I hadn't realized there were so many options available now. Is this an example of malt liquor becoming gentrified?? :) I remember a time when the only sort of beer stronger than 5% or so was stuff that people drank out of brown paper bags, the occasional European curiosity aside.

These high gravity beers have nothing to do with malt liquor and its unfortunate that the two are in the same family of beverage as it is making it very difficult to get the 6% cap lifted in North Carolina. In South Carolina, you will have to wait until next year at the earliest but I suspect that you will run into many of the same issues. Malt liquor is a lager and most of the high gravity styles, with the exception of the bock styles, are ales.

If you are interested in beer styles, I suggest you go to beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com as each site provides an excellent education. Most of these styles have been around for years but American craft brewers are really pushing the limits these days in so many fascinating ways.

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Has anyone mentioned Duvel? 8.5% V. good but has to be poured properly

Yes there's a special way to pour this bad boy to a tulip glass for a nice level of foam.

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I've always like strong beers from my younger days drinking O'Keefes Extra Old Stock (High Test) in the 80's. Today a strong Belgian like Duval if I can get it or Faxe (8.5%). The Unibrou ones are good too! The 10% Faxe I tried in Ontario was a little strong but two of those and I knew I was drinking :wub: .

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Hi

I was wandering through my folks house the other day and i came across a bottle of 1995 Sam Adams Triple Bock. i remember buying it although i can't believe i never drank it. anyway i remember Sam Adams sending out pamphlets on what it would taste like if you opened it in that particluar year but those mailings either stopped or the folks threw them away, so my question is, has anyone had this beer recently, i want to open it and drink it, but not at the expense of a trip to the infirmary, once a year food poisoning is plenty for me. Thanks for the help.

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i want to open it and drink it, but not at the expense of a trip to the infirmary, once a year food poisoning is plenty for me.  Thanks for the help.

Unless it seems like the seal has been broken it is pretty unlikely that the beer has gone bad in any way that would make you sick.

I would open it carefully, pour it into a glass.

If it explodes out of the bottle or smells off, I might not drink it.

Otherwise, I would enjoy your fine aged beer!

-Erik

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The Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, while not the powerhouse that is the 120 minute, clocks in at 9% ABV and is, in our estimation, excellent. It's our go-to house brew.

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i want to open it and drink it, but not at the expense of a trip to the infirmary, once a year food poisoning is plenty for me.  Thanks for the help.

Unless it seems like the seal has been broken it is pretty unlikely that the beer has gone bad in any way that would make you sick.

I would open it carefully, pour it into a glass.

If it explodes out of the bottle or smells off, I might not drink it.

Otherwise, I would enjoy your fine aged beer!

-Erik

Thanks for the reply, if anyone else has a 1995 Triple Bock, Sam Adams had this to say when i asked them what it might taste like at this point.

1995 Vintage

The '95 is still a bit of a "bad boy":a little rough around the edges, but with a heart of gold. The aroma is reminiscent of the '94, with savory leather thrown in for complexity. The flavor is chocolatey, malty, and earthy, with a dry finish.

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Each of the top-five rated beers on http://www.ratebeer.com has an alcohol content over 10%. I think the reason is simple. More alcohol means more grain which means more flavor. This isn't to say there's no place for beers like Pilsner Urquell, Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. One of the great, sometimes forgotten things about beer is its relaxing quaffability


Edited by eipi10 (log)

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