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Old 12-01-2009, 12:42 AM   #1
BKeilman
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Default Highest alcohol content of a beer?

Yes, yes, I'm perfectly happy with my IPAs and general normal-content beers, but everyone likes an adventure, right?

Malt Liquor and High Gravity beers rarely get over 10% ABV, and some of the heaviest beers I've heard of get to 14%...

So I threw some creativity into this calculator I found at http://www.tastybrew.com/

Now, I did it quickly, but with:

10lbs Amber Dry Malt Extract,
8lb Dark Malt extract syrup
5lb Crystal 20L
3lb Chocolate
5lb German Roasted Wheat
3lb Honey
8lb Brown Sugar
2lb Corn Syrup

I wound up getting, in a 5 gal batch, 32.3% ABV. Obviously, it was very dark and with an OG of 1.334 and FG of 1.084. I can only imagine what boiling 44 lbs of malt extract and sugars must be like, BUT

Kinda wondering what the practicality of such a monstrosity would be. Would the fact that 23% of the malt is from sugar and corn give it an alcohol-y smell and thus make it significantly un-beer like?

Craziness...

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Old 12-01-2009, 12:45 AM   #2
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No yeast will support 32.3% ABV. In fact, you'll have a REALLY hard time getting anything over about 18%. Read up on Dogfish Head 120 and Sam Adams Utopias for ideas about crafting really big beer.

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Old 12-01-2009, 01:21 AM   #3
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Beer is a balance of ingredients. Some styles are renowned for a slight alcohol warmth. Doppelbocks are a great example. However you want to get warmth, but not a strong alcohol flavor. This is the tricky part. Go get a bottle of Dogfish Head 120min IPA to get an idea of what happens when you ramp up the alcohol. I'd say it's more like drinking a liqueur and less like a beer. It's a sipping beer, like a glass of scotch. It's not really in my opinion much like a beer other than the IPA flavor.

Forget for a second that your yeast wouldn't make it (and it wouldn't). Consider what the final product would taste like. Most likely it would taste like rubbing alcohol and not beer. You are looking for a balance of sweet malt, bitter hop, and warm alcohol. Jacking the alcohol way out of proportion would make it really hard to have a balance. The pleasant flavors sweet and bitter, that are normally found in harmony in a beer would be overwhelmed. This is why people don't really make beer that high in alcohol, it just doesn't taste good. You will begin to find liquor at that point which is a different animal altogether. Even 120 and Utopias aren't close to that ABV and IMO they aren't really that great to drink. It's fun to try it and say you have, but I'd take a 60 or 90 min IPA any day.

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Old 12-01-2009, 01:24 AM   #4
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Scotland's Brew Dog has a new beer that is over 30%. Not sure how they got there.

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Old 12-01-2009, 01:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGarnigle View Post
Scotland's Brew Dog has a new beer that is over 30%. Not sure how they got there.
Freeze concentration.

Samuel Adams Utopias is near 30%. Its fermented to that point. They are using a special yeast strain they "bred" for the purpose though. I'd venture to say, that the average homebrewer cannot get a beer above 20%. There are some guys here who did a Utopias clone, and a guy who did a 20% all malt beer at BYO. Its possible, but hard.
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Old 12-01-2009, 01:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGarnigle View Post
Scotland's Brew Dog has a new beer that is over 30%. Not sure how they got there.
They got to 32% by freezing it - like a glorified Eisbock. Since alcohol freezes at a lower temp than water, if you try and freeze the beer you get a slush. Filter some of the resulting liquid and leave ice (water) behind, you have a more concentrated and higher alcohol beer.
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Old 12-01-2009, 01:44 AM   #7
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BKeilman - you may want to check in to brewing a barley wine. That would probably be pretty similar to what you are going for here.

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Old 12-01-2009, 01:55 AM   #8
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Wow! 32% abv doesn't sound tastey at all. You should probably seek out some big beers and evaluate the flavor and see what you like. I never tried the DFH 120 but I have had the 90 and that's plenty for me. I personally tap out at around 12%. I'd just drink liquor at that point.. Your recipe is probably a waste of money and time if it turns out like a liquer or rubbing alcohol that you, or anyone else, won't want to drink. Might put some extra hairs on your chest though....

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Old 12-01-2009, 06:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGarnigle View Post
Scotland's Brew Dog has a new beer that is over 30%. Not sure how they got there.
Yeah, Brew Dog's new Tactical Nuclear Penguin recently set the record for the highest ABV at 32%.

http://www.asylum.co.uk/2009/11/27/worlds-strongest-beer-and-its-competitiors/

"The incredible strength was attained when the beer, which started life as a 10 percent imperial stout, was aged for 16 months in two different whisky casks before being stored in a freezer at a ball-shriveling -20°C for three weeks."

Ignore all the American beer bashing. Idiots....
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