How do we define "Big Beers"?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ontherocks, Jan 20, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ontherocks

    ontherocks Initiate (143) Mar 4, 2008 Georgia


    Where do we set the alcohol content? Is 8.5% a good threshold?

    The bottle size doesn't have to enter into the definition, but it seems to contribute to an assertive mindset that "this beer is so damn good, 12 oz. ain't enough!".

    Where do we set the the flavor content threshold? Different people have their own "wow" moments. And sometimes a beer grows on you after 3 or 4 sips, as you become accustomed to its flavor.

    The New Holland El Mole Ocho that I had last night seems to fit the category.

    Thoughts? Opinions? Examples?
  2. DaltonC

    DaltonC Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2013 Idaho

    8% ABV and up.
  3. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Initiate (193) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    Yep, 8%. It's when you can almost safely say 'my beer is two of your light beers'.

    That was a big line back in the day to try and flaunt your craft beer superior-ness.
    Johnny_Muir likes this.
  4. RblWthACoz

    RblWthACoz Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I also call this a very big beer.
    Shroud0fdoom and spicoli00 like this.
  5. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (472) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I think that it's more a function of the beer itself, including the body, ABV, hoppiness, and many other things.
    I know of beers that are 10%+ that drink way to easily; I don't really consider them 'big' beers. On the other hand, there are ones that are listed around 6 - 7% that drink way bigger than that; they seem to have the impact of something well into the double digits.
    I can't just put one line in the sand, to define big and not-big beers.
  6. ontherocks

    ontherocks Initiate (143) Mar 4, 2008 Georgia

    Assertiveness (sp.?)
  7. geocool

    geocool Disciple (335) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    We should be looking at $ per oz. When I see the words "Big Beer," the only thing I'm sure of is it's going to cost.
  8. infuturity83

    infuturity83 Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2009 Massachusetts

    I would say 8% is a good guideline.
  9. SummitSeries72

    SummitSeries72 Initiate (128) Mar 17, 2011 New Jersey

    Great idea for a thread, by the way! I certainly think ABV enters into it. But that should not be the sum total of it. I think "Big Beers" also incorporates things like viscous mouthfeel, etc. I think beer styles are very much in play here too. For example, a good, money-where-its-mouth Imperial stout is a "Big beer." High potency Belgian Quads are "Big Beers." So, in sum, ABV is part of it, but not all of it.
  10. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    Beat me too it.

    To give an example of a high alcohol beer I've had recently that I don't consider "big", I don't think Hopslam is a "big" beer. In fact, I have to force myself not to drink too many.
    SummitSeries72 likes this.
  11. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    I thought big beers just meant higher quantity of ingrediants (malt/hops), having a high OG, and ending with a high ABV
  12. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,531) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    I think anything about 8% should be called an Imperial or Double whatever the style is, and then its a big beer.
  13. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,083) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Why 8%? I've seen single ipa offerings coming in at 8%. I'm going 10%.
    RBassSFHOPit2ME likes this.
  14. SerialTicker

    SerialTicker Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2012 Michigan

    Not so much a percentage as mouth feel and flavor, in my opinion.
  15. doppletheGOAT

    doppletheGOAT Initiate (0) Nov 27, 2012 Texas

  16. BourbonJersey

    BourbonJersey Aspirant (254) Jan 18, 2014 New Jersey

    I'd say ABV (maybe 8.5% or higher?), potency of flavors, and balance of flavors all play a role in me labeling something a big beer. Something could be high in ABV but be one dimensional or imbalanced and that would throw it out of the category of big beers for me. Then again I'd consider something with low ABV and fantastic potency of flavors and great overall balance a big beer as well... Big is kind of (and by kind of I mean completely) a subjective question...

    Wow factor is helpful, but not necessary for a big beer in my opinion.
  17. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California

  18. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Not sure how a 10% DIPA should be considered anything less than a big beer, drinkable or not...

    Revised - although I can see your point when comparing Hopslam to say a Bigfoot at less ABV. I'd be quicker to call Bigfoot the "Bigger Beer" based on feel and pungency of flavors alone. Gotcha.

  19. Ilovelampandbeer

    Ilovelampandbeer Initiate (0) Aug 25, 2013 New York

    i agree with 10 percent..i wouldnt say 8 percent..would u call heady topper a big beer? prob not...its not a question of flavor IMO as much as alcohol content(though some 10 percenters mask better than 8 percenters so we could do this all day)
    RBassSFHOPit2ME likes this.
  20. doppletheGOAT

    doppletheGOAT Initiate (0) Nov 27, 2012 Texas

    I consider a big beer to be anything that has a really strong taste, whether that is caused by smoking the malts (smoked beers) , adding loads of hops (IPA and/or pale ale) or bringing on the yeast funkyness (saison) would not matter, to me these are all "big beers".

    I would not even consider using alcohol percentage to determine this because I've had a lot of sweet tasting beers that are over 10% ABV.
  21. KS1297

    KS1297 Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Wisconsin

    OG above like 1.070 Is getting big imo
    TongoRad likes this.
  22. BEERschlitz

    BEERschlitz Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2013 Michigan

    Mole Ocho made me vomit a "big" amount
    Scrapss likes this.
  23. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey

    Hop Ranch is 9%
    Does anyone consider that a BIG beer?
    ivorycannon likes this.
  24. ivorycannon

    ivorycannon Initiate (0) Feb 21, 2013 Indiana

  25. Petey_the_Quiet

    Petey_the_Quiet Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2014 Florida

    Yeah it depends, I had a Widmer Brothers Nelson Imperial IPA yesterday that sits at 8.6%, yet drank so smooth you wouldn't have known it if not for the label. Wouldn't call it a "Big Beer," because I feel like I could go for one after another.

    Now there's a local brewer, Engine 15, that makes an Imperial Brown Ale that sits at 8% and I'd definitely call it a "Big Beer." It's not just the alcohol content alone but the overall feel/taste of the beer and how filling it is that determines "Big Beer" status for me.
  26. jageraholic

    jageraholic Disciple (359) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts

    His is bigger than yours
  27. Andrew041180

    Andrew041180 Initiate (0) Mar 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    To quote the late US Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, regarding the definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it." Or taste it, as the case may be.
  28. Dupage25

    Dupage25 Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2013 Antarctica

    As a general rule of thumb I have always considered everything 7.5% and up to be "imperial/double/extra" with a few caveats. Alcohol alone does not convey size. I mean, would anyone here call a watery thin 10% malt liquor "big beer?" Most people here are saying 8% for big/imperial, but how many here are willing to call Stone Ruination (7.7%) a regular or "single" IPA?

    I might consider an especially thick 7% stout an imperial stout, for example. I might consider a really abrasive 7% IPA an imperial/double IPA. It's the same thing with the dubbel/quad distinction (or dark ale/strong dark ale). It's a sliding scale, not a steadfast ironclad rule. I've had Belgian ales of 9% strength that had the depth of flavor of an 11% beer, so I just refer to them as quads.

    Styles in general are spectral, not material.
  29. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Beers that are mouth manglers. i.e. Beer dick beer.
  30. rundownhouse

    rundownhouse Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2005 Tennessee

    Lots of sours have big, strong flavor, and clock in at 6% ABV or lower. The Bamberg smoked beers have big, strong flavors, and clock in at under 6%. I get that ABV can't be the end-all, be-all, but if you respond to drinking a 4.5% ABV sour by exclaiming, "Whoa, this is a big beer!" you're going to be looked at like you're nuts.

    I think ABV really should be the driving - although not only - factor in the discussion. Some people have said a thin or easy drinking 10% beer isn't a big beer, but to me... yeah, if I can get a DUI for having just a couple, it's a big beer, regardless of sensory considerations.
  31. rundownhouse

    rundownhouse Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2005 Tennessee

    And this is a pretty good answer.
  32. rundownhouse

    rundownhouse Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2005 Tennessee

    A new thought: historical considerations.

    How many beers, in the history of beer, have clocked in at 8% or 10% ABV or more? One of my more consistent observations/complaints about this website is how myopic it is. It's easy to forget that the majority of craft drinkers - never mind beer drinkers - have a big DIPA or BA stout once in a blue moon, not every night, and when they do they don't exactly come to these forums to post about how it was worse than the last release. So I think it's easy to lose sight of how opinions on this site influence the worldview of members. Most craft drinkers are drinking something in the 5-6%ABV range, and it seems a little nuts to not consider a beer with ~200% of the alcohol of 5% ABV anything other than a "big beer."

    Beers like that are far from the norm of what beer has traditionally been, far from the norm of what beer has traditionally been consumed, and are far from the majority of beer that is made. Because of that, I think it's fair to say that beers that far out of the norm deserve an adjective or modifier or category. Without too much thought on it, 8% passes the smell test for me, although personally I'd probably go a bit lower. And again, I don't think there's a hard-and-fast ABV line.
  33. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Devotee (427) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    Thinking of the Belgian market, where fairly workaday beers can run 8%, I'd say 10%. Chimay red, we can agree no at 7%; white, I'm still thinking no, at 8%. Blue, at 9% -- OK, I'll meet ya halfway and call it 9. That keeps Duvel under the "big" line.
  34. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    If pushed to give a definition, I would also use an OG above 1.070 as the threshold.
    KS1297 likes this.
  35. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    20 oz or more
  36. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    I see what you did there.
    KS1297 likes this.
  37. RonfromJersey

    RonfromJersey Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2002 New Jersey

    More than 16 ounces.
  38. Johnny_Muir

    Johnny_Muir Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2014 New Jersey

    I picked up my first 10%er today (happened to be River Horse so fuck yea Jersey) and the first thing I thought was "Ah ha, equal to two shit beers."
  39. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Who are 'we' to say? Why the need to set thresholds, define categories?
    How do you define a 'big' woman? Different for everybody I suppose.

    Answer: 1080
  40. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (775) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Everything is bigger in Texas!!! :slight_smile:

    In my opinion, big is a combination of a majority of serving size, ABV, OG, mouthfeel, IBU and/or overall doubling (or more) of some particular quality of what is considered the "average" qualities of a class of beer.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.