Most domestic beer is around 4-6% alcohol by volume. Personally, that’s enough alcohol for me. I, believe it or not, actually like the taste of beer and drink it more for the flavor than for the amount of alcohol in it. I appreciate the subtle yeasty, citrus flavor of a hefeweizen on a beautiful, sunny day as well as the rich maltiness of a dark porter on a cold winter night.
If you want your brew to be more potent you can do like the famous St. Patrick’s Day tradition and drop a shot of Jamison and Bailey’s into your Guinness. That’ll give your beer a nice kick. You can also drop a shot of just about anything into your beer. This, for the lay person, is called a boilermaker.
The drink has been around forever, but people around my age may remember it being ordered by Seabass in the hit comedy Dumb and Dumber. Officially, a boilermaker is any beer with a shot of whiskey, tequila or vodka dropped into it. Recently, I’ve even seen commercials for a lime flavored rum that you are actually supposed to add to a beer for a “refreshing taste”. I had a Landshark Lager with a shot of Bacardi Limon once and it was delicious and refreshing on a hot summer night. It helped that I was at a bar on a beach though.
Upon doing research about boilermakers, I came upon many different kinds of “beer cocktails”. Here are a few:
Black Velvet: Guinness and Champagne or cider. It’s almost like a mimosa, but way more chocolatey and dark. It is also way manlier…or is it?
Down Low: Shot of Bourbon topped with seven ounces of beer. Personally, I don’t get this one. You clearly want to drink bourbon. What’s the point of adding a little beer? Is it so you can drink more bourbon and not feel bad about it?
Flaming Dr. Pepper: This one is a bit complicated and has been referenced in popular culture. I’ve actually had one of these before (in college) and can vouch for its existence even though many bars won’t make it any more. The shot glass is ¾ full of amaretto, ¼ high proof liquor like everclear or 151. The shot is then light on fire, hence the fact that many bars refuse to make it anymore, and is then dropped into a pint of beer. In the movie I hope they serve beer in hell, the main character and his friends partake in this famous beer cocktail. It was also reference in the Andy Samberg comedy Hot Rod. Will Arnett’s character orders three flaming Dr. Pepper’s He chugs one of the drinks and then yells “Boom! There’s the flavor!”
Hangman’s blood: Porter combined with brandy, gin and rum. Wow, this one sounds little scary to me. The name is as creepy as the drink itself.
Lunchbox: Half beer, half orange juice with a shot of amaretto dropped in. Nothing says lunch time like an afternoon hangover.
Ok, you get the point. People can do some crazy things with beer. You can up the alcohol content and change the flavor by added different juices and other kinds of alcohol. But, what about upping the alcohol content without adding any foreign liquor? That’s what some crazy breweries in Scotland and Germany are doing.
Brewdog, a microbrewery in Scotland is in the midst of a war with German brewery Schorschbrau. Brewdog’s first foray into the world of high alcohol beer was the mind numbing 32% ABV Tactical Nuclear Penguin. You read that right, 32%. Most vodka’s and spirits in the US are only 40% alcohol. Their first brew is just barely less potent than Southern Comfort. The warning on the label reads: “This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. It is exactly the same manner you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.”
The shenanigans didn’t stop there though. Schorschbrau released a 40% ABV brew called Schorschbock. The lads at Brewdog followed that with a little jab at German history with their brew called Sink the Bismark! At 41% ABV. A bottle of that will set you back $60. Tactical Nuclear Penguin sells for a far more reasonable $53 per bottle. Both can be purchased online if that’s what you’re into. I’ll stick with my all of a sudden girly 4-6% ABV American craft brews though.