Forget taste. Disregard color. Don’t even consider the head, the level of carbonation, the hops, or the malts. In the latest battle of the beers, only one feature matters—how much alcohol is brewed into each ounce.
Last year, two European brewers went tap to tap trying to create the most concentrated ale. BrewDog, a Scottish microbrewer, first released Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a beer with 32 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Their beer was bested three months later by the German beermaker Schorschbrau, whose Schorschbock has 40 percent. BrewDog retaliated with Sink the Bismarck!, the most concentrated tipple in the world, with a record-breaking 41 percent ABV. (Most beers contain about 5 percent alcohol.)
But what’s the strongest American brew? The Daily Beast sought to answer that question with a basic survey of domestic brews. The rules: Every beer considered had to be brewed in the United States. Seasonal ales were included, but not limited run ales that are no longer available for purchase. As well, all the beers on the list are available in 12 oz. bottles or on draft, which excluded the much-talked about Samuel Adams Utopias, a beer meant to be imbibed in 2 oz. servings, from the running. Only beers with an ABV level that could be verified from the brewery were eligible.