120 Proof Beer – The Strongest Beer in the World - For Now

By Jim Cohen | August 2, 2010 | 5 Comments |
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Ladies and Gentlemen, just one week after “The End of History” was released by BrewDog, the record has been shattered. A Dutch brewery, brewery, 't Koelschip (The Refrigerated Ship), has recently released a 60% ABV (120 proof) beer. The beer is called "Start the Future" adequately named after BrewDog’s “The End of History” (how cute).

If you have followed Beer Universe over the past several months, you will know that we have covered this topic through several series of articles:

At 60% ABV, the Dutch brewery is really pushing the envelope. As a comparison, there are only a handful of mainstream alcoholic beverages which are stronger: Bacardi 151 and Everclear. Both of these beverages are 75.5% ABV (Everclear is also available at 95% where legal). By the way, sometimes rubbing alcohol (the stuff you can’t and shouldn’t drink) ranges from 70% - 100% depending on the manufacturer.

Thinking about 60% ABV another way is comparing your traditional 5% ABV beer (let’s  take Budweiser). If you drank 12 Budweisers in a row, you’d get the exact same buzz from drinking one bottle of Start the Future. I suppose if you are only trying to drink 1 beer when you go out, this may be the one that you’d want to select. Although, please remember this is supposed to be consumed more as a spirit than a beer.

Start the Future is reasonably priced at €35 ($45) a bottle and doesn’t come in a stuffed dead animal. If you recall, The End of History came in a squirrel’s body and was priced at over $750, as there were only 12 bottles initially produced.

We were stunned with a 55% ABV, thinking that it would take another brewer months to beat the record. After a week on the record books, Jan Nijboer, the brewer, showed us. Will this be the end of the competition?

"It has become a little competition," Nijboer said to Dutch news agency ANP. "You should see it as a joke."

Well we’re not sure that at 60% ABV you can call it a joke. However, with a reasonably priced bottle of Start the Future, we’d be willing to give this brew a try. Now we can only look forward for the next brewery to shatter the record…

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe



5 Comments · 120 Proof Beer – The Strongest Beer in the World...

  • Is it really called "Beer" at this point? I mean that's pretty strong.

  • Good point @Jay17k - whats interesting is that the method used to make these beers can actually get ABV's up to 80%.

    So don't this contest is over just yet...

  • Well, as long as it's made with malted barley, yeast, and water as the primary ingredients, then yes, it's a beer, regardless of ABV. I really want to try one of these beers. It sounds like an... enlightening experience, to say the least :-)

  • Has anybody tried it? Is it available in Florida and if so where?
    I tried the dogfish head 120 a couple of times as well as the 60 and 90. Those are some delicious beers.

  • I don't necessarily want to propose a definition of "beer" that is overly strict in regard to ABV, but a definition that only involves "barley, yeast, and water" doesn't rule out whiskey. So that's probably inadequate too.

    Obviously whiskey requires distillation, and the method of these beers is essentially a type of distillation--they use cold, rather than heat--to separate water from the beer, leaving the alcohol behind.

    When these drinks are left at normal ABVs, we call them "ice beers." But when the ABV is literally as high as the traditional rums and vodkas of the world, I think the manufacturer has to concede that they have entered the realm of spirits and left beer behind.

    Sometimes differences in scale are significant enough to consider, keeping in mind such things as the only difference between a skit, a sketch and a show is run time. Similarly, the only thing separating a short story from a novella, or a novella from a novel, is page count.

    I say it's not beer.

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