Is it Really Beer?

Beer Smack by | Dec 2009 | Issue #35

As old-school hardcore punks, beer advocates and founders of the Extreme Beer Fest, we’re all for pushing the boundaries of brewing and the minds and palates of consumers; you know, wake people up from the norm. There’s nothing more exciting than tasting something that’s never been made before, sparking conversation around it and witnessing others being inspired by it.

All of that said, there’s a creeping trend that’s arguably pushing beer too far. While the gauntlet was thrown down well over a decade ago, the challenge to create “the world’s strongest beer” seems to be gaining more would-be champions. Some are achieving alcohol by volumes of over 30 percent through freeze distillation, while others heat things up through barrel-aging (repurposed spirit cooperage), super-yeast strains, massive amounts of fermentable sugars and various other techniques. In many US states, many of these high-octane brews are banned due to alcohol caps or even considered spirits from a licensing point of view.

So we pose this question to the brewers of the world reading this…

As brewers strive to make “the world’s strongest beer,” do you think beers produced using unconventional methods like freeze distillation, aging in “wet” liquor barrels or cultivating super-yeast strains so they can power through sugar comas should be considered “beer?” Do they cross the line into the world of spirits or is this just another example of brewer innovation that should be celebrated?

Send your responses to [email protected] We’ll run our top picks in next issue’s “Three Threads” and post all replies on BeerAdvocate.com.

Cheers, happy holidays and all the best in 2010!

Respect Beer. 

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