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what's the strongest beer I can buy off the shelf?


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  1. I believe Duvel is 11%, and is pretty widely available.

    If you're in California, you might be able to find AleSmith. Their Speedway Stout is 11%. They also have a Scottish ale, Wee Heavy, that's also around 12%. Barleywines get up to 14%.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Duvel is 8.5% abv, a strong beer to be sure, but not even close to the strongest beer available.

      AFAIK, the strongest beer ever available off the shelf is Boston Beer Company's Utopias (25 % abv) as another poster already suggested.

      1. re: Stiv

        Thanks for correcting that. I don't why I thought it was 11%.

        However, I wasn't saying it's the strongest beer available. I simply said it's one of the strongest that is WIDELY available. Utopias may well be the strongest beer out there, but that doesn't do much good if you can't purchase it. FWIW I've never once seen it for sale, and I have some pretty well-stocked beer purveyors in my area.

    2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)makes some amazing (and expensive) brews: their World Wide Stout is 18% alcohol, 120 Minute IPA is 21%!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Luwak

        << 120 Minute IPA

        Yum! Dogfish Head bartenders serve it in a small snifter... probably 6 oz?

      2. It depends on the laws of your state, and on what the distributors carry. As Luwak said, there are a number of "beers" being made now that exceed 15%, but they are prohibited in some states, and expensive. Some types that tend to be among the highest are imperial or double stouts, imperial IPAs, and Belgian tripels. These brews are usually only found in stores that have a wide variety of craft brews. If you're talking about beers that are available in every store that sells beer, you're probably not going to find anything above 7% or maybe 8% abv. Most of the mass-market American beers are about the same, in the 5% range. There is some info on state-by-state rules at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_...

        1. It depends on your demographic... Dogfish Head makes a beer so strong, in Oregon they've scribbled out the alcohol content! I think it's a barley wine?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ergozum

            I believe this is because Oregon discourages (prohibits?) displaying the alcohol content of beers on their labels.

          2. World Wide Stout comes in at around 18%. That stuff is smooth as port, delicious with a major punch. Serve it as an after-dinner drink to your wine friends and they'll swear it's a semi-dry port.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chicago Mike

              Chicago Mike, Can you buy the World Wide Stout at Sam's or Binny's? I can, almost, taste it and feel the buzz now.

            2. Hard to find, and usually retailing for $120+ a pop, Sam Adams Utopias clocks in at 25% abv.

              1. EKU 28....not sure if it it still around but a yummy, syrupy (in a good way) brew...

                1. I'm in Los Angeles, where should I go to find some of these? I also hate a real bitter beer. If that matters.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                    If you're in LA, I'd suggest looking for AleSmith beers. Look for either Wee Heavy or Horny Devil. Both are high alcohol content, but more on the sweet/malty end (i.e. not bitter). AleSmith is a San Diego brewery, but I know their stuff makes it to LA. Whole Foods might carry it.

                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                      Vendome. red Carpet in Glendale, Wine House..all MAY have Utopias, whcih is a sipping beer better than a fine brandy. It's hard to get, but worth it.

                      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                        You can get Duvel at any upscale liquor store. btw, It's not bitter.

                      2. Another one, Samichlaus, is somewhere around 14 percent. It used to hold the title of world's strongest beer, but it looks like some microbrews are taking that title.

                        I bought a Samichlaus once and it was just plain nasty. The only beers that succeed in strength without being nasty are Belgian, in my humble opinion.

                        In Brugge I spent five hours in a beer bar and drank fifteen beers...best experience of my life.

                        My beer for the last three was a Rochefort Trappistes 14 percenter, I believe.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: therealbigtasty

                          Samichlaus is pretty interesting IMO. I don't care for EKU 28, which is so syrupy it sticks to my lips.

                          1. re: therealbigtasty

                            When you were in Brugge, did you spend some time @ de Beir Tempel? I spent about 2 hours there last March and sampled many beers, one of my favorites was Brugge Zot. BTW, there is a beer festival in St. Niklaas, Be. the first weekend in March. This will be my 7th year that I go there for Belgian beers and a good time. Cheers!!!

                            1. re: speshulk99

                              I think it must've been that bar. Apparently that place is pretty famous, I ran into another guy that had been there.

                              Is the Beir Tempel the one off the main road in the little tiny side street, pretty unassuming small place with like three hundred beers?

                              God, I love that place. They gave me my first Gueze...

                          2. Ok. I am going to look for this AleSmith beer. Will keep you posted. Thanks for the help.

                            1. It's not especially strong in the alcohol department, but if you define strong as taste, then go for Aecht Schwaengerle Rauchbier from Bamberg. It's a smoked beer and tastes like hickory smoked bacon. Under the right circumstances, it's delicious.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: ChewFun

                                  I'm sorry, but you got me rolling with Aecht Schwaengerle. I googled it to make sure it was some Bamberg brewery I'm not aware of, and this post on Chowhound is the only result! Congrats on your originality.

                                  I think you mean Schlenkerla though. Again, sorry for laughing at your error, but for some reason it strikes me as really funny.

                                2. my car has been in the shop and my internet has been down. lol! I will be heading over to Vendome and looking for stuff on this list tomorrow and will report back. Thanks!

                                  1. The Dogfish Head beer as previously suggested is really good. On top of being really tasty it's also widely available as far as I know. I've seen it in the Kroger (supermarket chain) around my area (in VA), though the 120 min is rare. I do know that the 90 minute is pretty heavy, easier to find, and packed with alcohol. Good luck!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: strukljv

                                      Alas, Dogfish Head is relatively rare here in So Cal. Few places have it at all.

                                    2. Keep in mind the difference between the 2 alcohol measurement systems.

                                      Alcohol by weight and alcohol by volume.
                                      ABV = ABW X 1.25 or ABW = 0.8 X ABV (for the same amount of alcohol content).

                                      So a 10% ABW beer = 8% ABV beer.

                                      Most world beers are measured by ABV which appears as a lower %value but is equal to the higher ABW system. This has caused much confusion over the real difference in strength between US and Canadian beer as some US beers are measured as ABW.
                                      A 4% ABW beer = 3.2% ABV and a 4% ABV beer = 5% ABW a difference of 1.8% or 36% !!! But in reality its not the beer quality but the way its measured.
                                      Apparently more and more US beers are being brewed to ABV values.

                                      Hope this helps....


                                      1. "Most world beers are measured by ABV which appears as a lower %value but is equal to the higher ABW system."

                                        Uh, you got that backwards (but your formula is correct).

                                        "Alcohol by Weight" produced the lower figure, since alcohol is lighter than water and, so, by weight, is a smaller percentage of the total than by volume.

                                        But, as you note, most US beers that list alcohol content on the label (in states that allow it) now use "Alc./Vol." so all the math in no longer necessary.

                                        1. JessKidden,
                                          exactly what I said, you need a higher number ABW to match an ABV beer ie. 1.25 more for the same alcohol content.

                                          ABW is lighter so the % has to be 1.25 higher.
                                          So for a beer match, a 4% ABV beer has to be matched with a 5% ABW beer, which to an observer unfamiliar with the difference looks like a smaller value, even though they are equal.

                                          I think this topic gets a little confusing depending on how you word your point.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: limey

                                            limey- your formula's right, but your conclusion is off. A lower ABW beer is equivalent to a higher ABV beer. GA's old 6% ABV limit is roughly equivalent to AL's (unfortunately still in place) 5% ABW limit for beer.

                                            1. re: limey

                                              OK, for the sake of clarification, I propose the following scenario: I have two bottles of beer of identical volume. One is labeled "10% ABW," the other is labeled "10% ABV." Which one will leave me more inebriated after consuming its entire contents?

                                              1. re: Luwak

                                                10% ABW (which is approx 12.5% ABV)

                                            2. Don't know if this is widely available; in NE it is. Fin Du Monde, a Quebec-made beer.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: onlytwomuses

                                                It's available, but nowhere near the strongest beer sold.

                                              2. Jim, you're absolutely right, 9% abv I think. It sneaks up on ya, but not as hard as some. But I like the crispness and the aroma. A lot of the higher alcohol beers I've tried give me the Old English aftertaste, but that could be just my palate.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: onlytwomuses

                                                  I don't particularly care for ultrastrong beers either. I'd rather nurse a few lesser beers over a period of time.

                                                2. Can anyone tell me where to buy the Sam Adams Utopia for 200$ or less?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: katienhoj

                                                    Nowhere. Utopias is never $200 or under. The best bet if you can't afford it is to find someone with a bottle and figure out a way to get a taste.

                                                    1. re: katienhoj

                                                      i bought two bottles this year. one was $165 and the other was $190. i bought one from the guy who owned the liquor store adn the other from a guy who worked in a liquor store.

                                                    2. Never under $200? IIRC, the original suggested retail price for Utopias was in the $100-150 range. And, since it wasn't released at all in 2006, most of the bottles around now are going for well above the original price due to rarity and, in some cases, having been bought and re-sold for "investment" purposes (eBay sellers, etc). Seems I read recently that a new release is planned for 2007 (no report of a price change) and, no doubt, some retailers will jack the price up.

                                                      1. just bought ~20% abv Dogfish Head 120minute IPA in Central Market in Houston.

                                                        1. I had a, thats just one, Goose island Bourbon County last night, 13% ABV, knocked my dick in the dirt, WOW!! Co-worker bought it at the grocery store in Wausau, Wis. Oh, after tax, $20.04/4 pack.