How do we define "Big Beers"?

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

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  1. ontherocks

    ontherocks Initiate (0) 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 Zealot (699) 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 Pooh-Bah (1,689) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society

    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 (0) Mar 4, 2008 Georgia

    Assertiveness (sp.?)
  7. geocool

    geocool Initiate (0) 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 Zealot (504) 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 Initiate (0) 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 Grand Pooh-Bah (4,656) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Pooh-Bah 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 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,274) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

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

    SerialTicker Pooh-Bah (2,815) 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 Pundit (823) 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.
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