An Introduction to 3 Strong Craft Beers
Trends regularly work their way through the craft beer industry—anyone who has paid attention for long enough can easily see this with their own two eyes. In recent years, low-alcohol “session” beers have made waves, carried by the fact that most people can drink multiple cans or bottles without getting to drunk for their own good. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find strong beers so high in alcohol that you can taste the heat with every sip. Barleywines, Old Ales and Imperial beers all fit the bill, but there are some offerings that go far and beyond the typical alcohol wall of 11-13% ABV.
Think you’re up to the challenge? Here are three of the strongest craft beers made in America, all of which are dangerously easy to drink.
• Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
Imperial stouts can be incredibly complex, especially if they’ve been dialed-in by a brewery over a number of years. They typically cap out around 11% ABV, however, with few extending much further than 13%. As a brewery, Dogfish Head is no stranger to experimentation, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that their World Wide Stout clocks in at an enormous 18% ABV. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the beer is that it’s not barrel-aged, which means it gets its enormous chocolate, coffee and woody characteristics straight from the huge amount of malts that go into the beer. Think dark chocolate-covered raisins soaked in a container of booze, and you’ll have somewhat of an idea as to what to expect from a bottle of WWS.
• Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout quickly became one of the most sought-after beers in the country after first being released, ushering in a new era for bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts. Canadian Breakfast Stout takes things to an entirely new level, and it’s become extremely difficult to find, making it even more worth trying to hunt down. Clocking in at 10.6%, it’s not the highest-alcohol beer on this list, but perhaps the most flavor-packed. An imperial stout brewed with a blend of coffees as well as actual imported chocolate, CBS is then aged in spent bourbon barrels that have previously held Michigan maple syrup. It’s as complex in taste as the description lets on, pouring like pure oil and showing flavors of toasted oak, stone fruit and—you guessed it—maple syrup.
• Firestone Walker Parabola
Anyone who enjoys hoppy beer will find a lot to love about Firestone Walker. Their Luponic Distortion series of rotating hop-heavy brews is reason enough to check them out, but their best beer has nothing to do with hops at all. Parabola is a giant imperial stout that brings with it the punch of a 14% ABV, and a single taste is all it takes to see why the beer is sold contained within a wooden box. Aged for a year in bourbon barrels from five different producers and then blended for consistency, Parabola hides its alcohol extremely well, instead being dominated by oak, chocolate and caramel.
Breweries the world over are continuously trying to push the envelope, developing beers that go beyond what was once thought possible. Try one of the above offerings, and you’ll quickly become hooked on the extreme end of the beer spectrum.
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