Tuesday 10 May 2011

Beer wars: The end of history!

I like telling stories, and like a friend of mine told me: "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story".  If you got a secret and wont tell me the whole story, rest assure I will make up the rest of the story. Todays tale boys and girls are about the rockstars of beers most ambitious brew, we're talking about the legendary Scottish beer bastards of "Brewdog". Well actually the story isn't only about them, but there's no doubt that these underdogs are the heroes of this little tale, defeating the "axis" and all...

Probably the coolest brewery in the world!

It was in the year of our lord 2009, I a newbie monk in the church of "Craft beer drinkers" was hanging out at my now favorite place of worship "Cardinal". After a long night of hard and unmerciful worshipping, a shiny copper object caught my eyes. I follow my calling and tasted this enchanting brew, claimed to be the strongest beer in the world by the bartender. This was off course "Samuel Adams Utopias". To be honest with you I thought it tasted like raisins and booze, (Raisin wine?!?) but I was pretty fucked up at the time. I just thought it was pretty cool to try the worlds strongest beer, wouldn't you? These yankees from Boston had made a beer stronger than what I thought was possible. So 27% of bad juju hit my system, and it gave me the fix I wanted. Utopias got all the way up to 27% as a "fermented beer", and I still think they hold the world record in that category. But anyway it didn't turn me on enough to care about the "grand finale" of the war between brewers. The dogfight to hold the title: "Strongest beer in the world".

Ach, the Germans they never learn, at least thats what some people say. (ME!) We bettered them at Rjukan in 1943, when a bunch of angry Norwegian saboteurs, trained in Great Britain blew up the "heavy water" factory. But they didn't give up, and by the end of the same year the Allied forces had to drop 400 bombs on the same factory. I mean how many wars can you loose and still keep coming back? But in beer wars no one needs to blow up the competitors brew house. Beer isn't a liquid of war like "heavy water", even though the outcome can be nuclear. As we are about to learn. Schorschbräu Schorschbock 31% had apparently held the record for strongest beer for a while, (since February '09) the 27% version of Samuel Adams Utopias (2007) had it before. Schorschbräu Schorschbock is classified as a Eisbock, basically a freeze distilled beer, where they remove the ice/slush that forms in the beer as it freezes and remove more and more as you freeze it again and again. Removing more and more water (Ice), while getting higher and higher alcohol volume.

Well if the Germans can do it, certainly the Scottish can too! So let's welcome "Tactical Nuclear Penguin", the real reason I'm writing this today. You see I'm a big fan of "Brewdog", they make beers for punks, me punk, me like "Brewdog", ugh ugh, get it?!? A hophead needs his regular fixes and "Brewdog" are among the best with their legendary "Punk IPA". But they are also a bunch of arrogant bastards, and after I visited their youtube channel, and watched their taunting movies for their three "new" extreme brews, I had to try them if I found them.

Back to why I'm writing this today, at Saturday I was at Cardinal again, the best pub in Norway, and I tried it! Brewdog's "Tactical Nuclear Penguin" is a Imperial Stout at 32%. And not only that, it's a good one. But if you've tried their Paradox you know Brewdog can make stouts. Here they have mixed the two versions of Paradox, the Isle of Arran & Smokehead, stored them some extra time in the whiskey barrels, then started the freezing distillation. It's kind of like a Stout concentrate, and if you ever tasted Coke syrup from the "bag in box" they use for tap, you know what I mean. I bet if you mixed this one with water it would still be a damn good Stout. So yeah here you get a "nuclear" explosion of taste in your mouth, and the smell, oh the perfectly crazy smell. It's like a microcosmos unravelling in your nose. You feel like a explorer of a distant world, and you're its ruler. And within it, is everything you ever dreamed of, everything you ever tasted, and you taste it all at the same time! Have you ever eaten a mouthful of jellybeans with all different tastes? Imagine the same with a beer. Imagine hints of caramel & chocolate, oak-barrels, all smokey and bitter in a wast and complexed universal way, tearing it's way through your taste buds like a nuclear explosion could level a city. Intense!

But back to the story, what happens when you better the Germans? Blitzkrieg! Attack, attack, attack! Shortly after they made a 40% version of their Schorschbock. Upon release they e-mailed Brewdog offering to sell them their secrets for brewing stronger beer, Brewdog politely declined... Pfff, politely, no no no no, check out their video for their comeback beer in the beer war: "Sink the Bismark", it's on their youtube channel and linked here. (I can almost hear the echo from the German beer brewers office, "Nein, nein, nein, don't mention ze war!") I haven't been so lucky to try the Bismark myself, but "Sink the Bismark" is nothing less than a quadruple IPA, four times more hops, four times more bitter and frozen four times. Malty and sweet while still holding a staggering 41%. I gotta get some, I'm currently planning a trip to the Brewdog pub in Aberdeen, but if they're out, there plenty of other stuff I can try. What I'm saying is, I wanna go anyway...

But the war was not over, like in a bad Stephen King movie sometimes the villains come back for more, and sometimes they come back for even more. The Germans launches a 43% beer! ACH! But all stories have to have a end, even this one. The brave Scotsmen of Brewdog return to the ice cold freezer, and conjure up the super-weapon of this war. The kind of weapon that's only used once or twice in every war, the kind of weapon you keep in your inner sleeve until you have no option, the kind of weapon that will crush all opposition and change history forever! This is their "Fat man" and "Little boy", this is their "Deathstar". "The end of history" is Brewdog's last effort in the beer war. They aimed for 50%, but they outdid themselves with a Belgian strong ale measuring at 55% of alcohol. This is boundary pushing at it's most extreme, the 0,33l. beer bottles is jammed into the throats of stuffed roadkill. Only 11 bottles was put out for sale, four Squirrels and seven Stoats. And for 700GBP one of these Squirrels could have been yours. (Most expensive beer ever!) You will probably never taste this, and nether will I, but now at least for a short while there is peace...

Shortly after the Dutch brewery Koelschip announced that they had brewed a beer at 60%. The "beer" was a blend with whisky and therefor can not be classified as a beer. The Dutch jokers named their "Beer" "Start the Future". (PS in Norway alcohol over 60% is classified as narcotics, and illegal. Will we ever see a "narcotic" beer?) Several other strong 30%+ beers have been made after the "beer war" started and ended. Belgian, American and Danish brewers have also joined the ranks of extreme strong beer brewers. It will be exciting to see what kind of "beer shots/schnapps" that will be made in the future, who will be the master of taste, who will win the costumers? Or will this just be a curiosity of the past? The future is still unwritten, but whats going on now will have a huge influence on the next generation of brewers, baby we're drinking historic beers!


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