The Desirability of Extreme Beers

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In 1998 or 1999, I had the opportunity to sample Samuel Adam's legendary Triple Bock.  It was in its cobalt-blue bottle, poured into snifters.  I had certainly tried quite a few beers back then, but was not as much of a beer nerd as I am now.  I remember the beer was viscous, flat with a dark, murky color.  It smelled rich, sherry-like, and intense, but to me seemed overwhelmingly odd and syrupy, and thus undrinkable.

I have since had a number of ultra-strong beers, including the World Wide Stout and 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head, the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Deschutes Abyss, and others.  To my palate, they range from sticky, sweet, and only good for the novelty, to really impressive examples of the craft of beer.  And I am sure that, like the various imperial styles, brewing such intense beers really helps brewmasters understand more about the process and their recipes.

Currently, however, there seems to be an arms race in the brewing world to make the strongest possible beer.  BrewDog in Scotland and Schorschbräu in Germany are at the head of the race, popping out beers that are actually surpassing 80 proof.  These beers push the definition of "extreme beer," and though I doubt I'll get a chance to try one anytime soon (the Schorschbräu Schorschbock costs around $150), I'm also not sure I would really leap at the opportunity to have a bottle around every day.  The reviews make them sound interesting, but not exactly drinkable.

We at Leisure Nouveau would be very interested in hearing from readers who have tried one of these extreme beers.  Please leave us a comment below.

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