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Old 10-17-2019, 08:01 PM
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Sam Adams Utopias has an ABV of 28 percent.


Utopias will be hard to find because of the small batch.

The high ABV makes it illegal in 15 states.

Seems counter intuitive to me. I drink beer because it's low in alcohol, compared to hard liquor. Many of my friends drink light beer because it's not very intoxicating.

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According to Forbes, Sam Adams’ only brewed 77 wooden casks of Utopias, which the outlet describes as having “distinct vanilla notes and subtle nutty and elegant dark fruit aromas.” The beer also claims to have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 28 percent, significantly higher than the average beer (which is usually lower than 10 percent).
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15 states. This includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-17-2019 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:02 PM
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Yeah, it's really good, too.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:10 PM
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Utopias won't be available in Arkansas. I could easily drive to Texarkana and buy it in Texas. That's a lot of trouble for a high ABV beer.

One bottle at a Halloween party and I'd ask my wife to drive us home. It's not worth taking the chance of a DUI.

I am curious how it tastes.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-17-2019 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:33 PM
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I can't even drink these 10% Belgian beers, for me the strong alcohol flavor pretty much masks all the flavors and textures I like in a beer. If it's gonna be that strong, it'll be whiskey or wine or a strong girly drink for me, thanks.

I'll probably try it anyway though.
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:55 PM
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Seems like this can’t possibly be just beer, it must be fortified or distilled in some way. There’s a ceiling on how alcoholic beer can be; after a certain point the alcohol kills all the yeast and fermentation ceases. Even the hardiest yeast strains can only get you into the low teens.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:07 PM
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Yeah but like bacteria versus penicillin, I betcha there are strains of yeast that evolved to tolerate being pickled.

I don't know why they don't just call it "heavy" beer. I think there was once a brand (marketed to bikers) with that handle.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:09 PM
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Even the hardiest yeast strains can only get you into the low teens.
Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen a beer higher than around around 11%-12% ABV barleywine style beers.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:14 PM
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Oops, I forgot the link. This article mentions the price. $210 a bottle.

It's not like any beer I've seen. It's too expensive for my budget.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/fortune...9-release/amp/

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That’s a shame because Utopias is unlike pretty much any other beer on the market. It’s not carbonated as the alcohol levels devour any CO2. Its taste is akin to a fine liquor, with a sweetness like a port or cognac and a smooth, almost buttery, malt-filled finish. And the recommended serving size is one ounce.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-17-2019 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:37 PM
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I am curious how it tastes.
It tastes wonderful, but not like any other beer you've had. If you attend the Sam Adams shareholders meeting they serve it in tiny little cups, but you can have as many as you want. They also serve it late into the tasting session, so most folks don't have many, especially since the meeting is in the middle of the day.

You can't drink it like beer.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:43 PM
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Seems like this canít possibly be just beer, it must be fortified or distilled in some way. Thereís a ceiling on how alcoholic beer can be; after a certain point the alcohol kills all the yeast and fermentation ceases. Even the hardiest yeast strains can only get you into the low teens.
They claim they have specifically bred a yeast strain that will survive, and that it is simply brewed. Back in the day I used to look forward to the GABF (Great American Beer Festival) in Denver every year because they would break out the Utopias, which they didn't do very often.

It's good, but the strongest resemblance to anything else is a shot of soy sauce. And I don't think they had reached 28% back then, it was still low 20's IIRC.
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:10 PM
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Pictures show decanters when I google it. Does it come in a decanter, or is that just the recommended way of serving it?
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:34 PM
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Pictures show decanters when I google it. Does it come in a decanter, or is that just the recommended way of serving it?
It comes in an "I Dream of Jeannie" style bottle, which changes slightly each year.
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:44 PM
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Trying to talk two friends into going in on a bottle. Only $70 each! A bargain!

Probably couldn't drink a whole bottle anyway. A couple chugs! If it is nasty, maybe that would be too much.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen a beer higher than around around 11%-12% ABV barleywine style beers.
[url-"https://www.averybrewing.com/beers"]Avery Brewing[/url] in Boulder has a few big beers in the 14-16% range. I once drank a bottle of their Nutty Professor without noticing that it was 15% until I was done. That made it the equivalent of about half a bottle of wine. Good thing I was in my living room, since moving around after was contraindicated.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Thing Fish View Post
Seems like this canít possibly be just beer, it must be fortified or distilled in some way. Thereís a ceiling on how alcoholic beer can be; after a certain point the alcohol kills all the yeast and fermentation ceases. Even the hardiest yeast strains can only get you into the low teens.
No, it's always been fermented. No distillation or fortification, or at least that's what they'e always claimed.

Quote:
Several yeast strains are used, with the main one a secret strain that can withstand the high alcohol content (28% ABV) without dying off.
This isn't a new beer, and I haven't heard anyone seriously challenge their claim that it's fermented like beer and not distilled or fortified. You can get yeast from White Labs (one of the main sources of homebrewers yeast) that are claimed to ferment up to 25%.

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From England, this yeast can ferment up to 25% alcohol when used correctly. It produces ester characters that increase with increasing gravity. Malt character dominates at lower gravities. To achieve >25% ABV, sugar needs to be fed over the course of the fermentation.
At any rate--I've had it. My cousin bought me a bottle for my birthday about eight or ten years ago. It was solid. Not something I would pay $100 for (which is what I think it was going for at the time), but definitely an interesting drink and conversation piece.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:47 PM
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Here's another beer at 28% ABV by fermentation alone whose description very clearly states the "normal fermentation" process was used and no freeze distilling or anything like that going on.

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In the last couple of years we have brought beer aficionados Sink the Bismarck! At 41% and the epic End of History at 55%. These alcohol contents were achieved by the extreme freezing of an already very strong beer. Ghost Deer achieves 28% ABV simply from the normal fermentation process. We used a variety of yeast strains during the elephantine process and drip fed the fermented masterpiece exotic sugars to ensure the yeast lived long enough to continue the fermentation.
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Old 10-18-2019, 06:41 AM
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To me, it tastes like Madeira. I don't remember how dry or sweet it tasted. Very toffee like, with a madeirized aroma. Decent finish. Not hot at all, unlike the Avery 'devils' line listed upthread. Not as complex as an aged Thomas Hardy's Ale or some of Boon's dry lambics.

I was glad someone else was paying for the bottle. Very good, completely unlike anything I'd ever had in beer before, but in no way worth to me, 200 or so a bottle. Worth a try if they actually are pouring it in the Sam Adams tasting room.
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:36 AM
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I've had Brewdog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin which was their first ice distilled beer at 32%. I described it as being like brandy. It was nearly 10 years ago and it was £6 for a 25ml measure.
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:42 AM
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Well at that price I doubt I'll be seeking out. And I tend not to like the taste of most higher-ABV beers. But I do like some aged fortified wines. Another poster mentioned Madeira, which piques my interest.
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Old 10-18-2019, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Oops, I forgot the link. This article mentions the price. $210 a bottle.
There goes my idea of running out and getting a case.

Last edited by Gatopescado; 10-18-2019 at 09:48 AM. Reason: I'll have to make do with a 12-pack
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Old 10-18-2019, 09:46 AM
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The strongest beer I've ever had was an 18% ABV Dragon's Milk special. Aged in whiskey barrels, it smelled and tasted like whiskey. And the alcohol presence was so strong that you could feel it in your throat. It was damn near like sipping on a whiskey. (It took me about 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon to finish one 12 oz. bottle.)
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:07 AM
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Utopias won't be available in Arkansas. I could easily drive to Texarkana and buy it in Texas. That's a lot of trouble for a high ABV beer.

One bottle at a Halloween party and I'd ask my wife to drive us home. It's not worth taking the chance of a DUI.

I am curious how it tastes.
Perhaps you can get a play-by-his-own-rules truck driver and his gear-pushing friend to go to Texarkana for you and drive it back! I suspect hijinks will follow and he'll have the law following him the whole way.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:15 AM
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Perhaps you can get a play-by-his-own-rules truck driver and his gear-pushing friend to go to Texarkana for you and drive it back! I suspect hijinks will follow and he'll have the law following him the whole way.
I have a feeling that they°s have very little time to get there due to the extremely short supply of this beer. And that's a pretty substantial distance. The drivers might say they can do it, but I’ll bet most people would say it couldn’t be done.

Last edited by Pork Rind; 10-18-2019 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:24 AM
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I got a bottle of Sam Adams triple bock back in maybe 1998. 17.5%, and man it was strong. I think it was good, hard to remember now. I was just dipping my toes in to beer at the time, so I may not have appreciated it.
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I am curious how it tastes.
I helped drink a bottle ($20 a shot) at a bar one year. It was syrupy, delicious. I lucked out, since I was the one who asked the bartender to crack the seal. I paid for and drank one shot, then she gave me a second. After everyone who wanted any had theirs, the bartender poured what was left into my glass. Three shots of beer and I was buzzed.


ETA: there was a scam on EBay briefly, where people listed Utopias bottles for $65 plus shipping. Buyers thought they were getting a great deal, until their empty bottle arrived.

Last edited by kayaker; 10-18-2019 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:23 PM
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Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA is quite good. Varies from year to year from 15% to 20% (I think I've seen 22, but ...). It has a complex sweet taste like a light liqueur. While the website says it's the "Holy Grail" for hop-heads, I find that their 90- and 60- minute IPAs are more distinctly hoppy.
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:36 PM
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I don't actually know much about beer flavor. It seems a lot of high-ABV beers taste very sweet to me. What's that from, leftover malt?
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:48 PM
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Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA is quite good. Varies from year to year from 15% to 20% (I think I've seen 22, but ...). It has a complex sweet taste like a light liqueur. While the website says it's the "Holy Grail" for hop-heads, I find that their 90- and 60- minute IPAs are more distinctly hoppy.
I was at an event a few years ago that had four vintages of 120. The initial tasting was a tiny sip of each of the four, with a discussion following each sip. Then I had a real swallow of each of the four, with more discussion after each swallow. After that, I was just taking swigs of whatever and the "discussion" involved more and more "singing".

Got to hand it to the guys in Delaware!
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:46 PM
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I was at an event a few years ago that had four vintages of 120. The initial tasting was a tiny sip of each of the four, with a discussion following each sip. Then I had a real swallow of each of the four, with more discussion after each swallow. After that, I was just taking swigs of whatever and the "discussion" involved more and more "singing".

Got to hand it to the guys in Delaware!
I've rarely been disappointed in their offerings.
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Old 10-18-2019, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57
The high ABV makes it illegal in 15 states.
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This includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.
Paraphrasing Group Captain Ramsey from "The Great Escape":

"No, Ohio's not on the list."
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:54 PM
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I've rarely been disappointed in their offerings.
When we go to Rehoboth Beach I often get an aged 120 or World Wide Stout. They've never disappointed me. Not much chance I'd ever pay a couple hundred dollars for anything that will be gone in 2-3 hours, though.
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Old 10-19-2019, 08:31 AM
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Not much chance I'd ever pay a couple hundred dollars for anything that will be gone in 2-3 hours, though.
Yeah, but. I'm a cheapskate at heart, but sometimes it's worth every penny.

I have a friend who is really into wine, and has an extensive cellar. A few years ago he gave me a bottle of wine from his collection as a gift. He told me it was his favorite vintage. Looking it up online, I saw it at auction going for $500. Even though it didn't cost me a cent, it was hard to open that bottle. But man, it was tasty.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:13 AM
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I'm not trying to be a jerk, here. I'm genuinely curious.

What makes it so great as a beer? I'm not a beer guy, admittedly, but what's being described seems un-beerlike. Is it somehow superior to just getting a good rum or brandy (my drinks of choice).
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:26 AM
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I'm not trying to be a jerk, here. I'm genuinely curious.

What makes it so great as a beer? I'm not a beer guy, admittedly, but what's being described seems un-beerlike. Is it somehow superior to just getting a good rum or brandy (my drinks of choice).
It's unique! Something to mention when talking beer with other beer snobs.

I once tried a beer that, as part of its production, was aged in casks that had once held scotch. I hated it, but it definitely was unique. So I ordered another, and forced myself to drink it. By the fourth glass I was beginning to really appreciate the beer. I would have gotten a growler to take home with me, but the keg kicked.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:34 AM
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It comes in an "I Dream of Jeannie" style bottle, which changes slightly each year.
It's the top of a fermenter.

ETA, like this.

Last edited by Joey P; 10-19-2019 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:35 AM
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I'm not trying to be a jerk, here. I'm genuinely curious.

What makes it so great as a beer? I'm not a beer guy, admittedly, but what's being described seems un-beerlike. Is it somehow superior to just getting a good rum or brandy (my drinks of choice).
It's that it's _different_. Alcohol is interesting in that, for just a mildly simple process (let yeasts do their thing in an anerobic environment for a bit), it can be so varied.

I haven't had Utopias, it's on the bucket list. I tend towards high ABV drinks because I'm a big guy. (6'6", 265 lbs)...if I DON'T have an 8% or higher beer, I just get bloated and sober.

I had an 'ultimate Black and Tan http://www.thebeercircle.com/dogfish-head-heaven-hell/ and it was a $40 drink across two 12oz bottles of beer. I was wrecked. It was VERY heavy and VERY alcoholic.

Something like the Utopias is a shared experience kind of thing. I couldn't see a person buying it, then drinking it alone in one session.
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Old 10-19-2019, 01:09 PM
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I'm not trying to be a jerk, here. I'm genuinely curious.

What makes it so great as a beer? I'm not a beer guy, admittedly, but what's being described seems un-beerlike. Is it somehow superior to just getting a good rum or brandy (my drinks of choice).
What kayaker said, plus it does 'taste good.' It has complexity in the nose on par with a decent brandy, IME. Different notes obviously, but a drink that also changes aromatically as it sits in the glass.
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Old 10-19-2019, 04:16 PM
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Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA is quite good. Varies from year to year from 15% to 20% (I think I've seen 22, but ...). It has a complex sweet taste like a light liqueur. While the website says it's the "Holy Grail" for hop-heads, I find that their 90- and 60- minute IPAs are more distinctly hoppy.
My wife and I take a vacation to the Mendocino/Fort Bragg area every year and for the last three there's been a fish and chips place that serves pints of this for 5 bucks. Since 12oz. bottles normally sell for more than $10, I always feel like I'm getting away with something.
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Old 10-19-2019, 04:53 PM
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My wife and I take a vacation to the Mendocino/Fort Bragg area every year and for the last three there's been a fish and chips place that serves pints of this for 5 bucks. Since 12oz. bottles normally sell for more than $10, I always feel like I'm getting away with something.
$10 is how much I pay for a bottle. Occasionally, a beer emporium will have it on tap during happy hour for $4 ... if they haven't already sold out.
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Old 10-19-2019, 05:11 PM
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At 28% ABV, can you really call it beer? When it's that high, doesn't it fall into a different category of alcoholic beverages?
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Old 10-19-2019, 05:17 PM
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Pass. I'm sure it's super sweet. I hate that about high ABV beers.

I'm certain there are lots of people who enjoy it and god bless 'em, but it ain't for me.
  #42  
Old 10-19-2019, 09:38 PM
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At 28% ABV, can you really call it beer? When it's that high, doesn't it fall into a different category of alcoholic beverages?
I mean, you can call it a "high-alcohol" or "high-gravity" beer, but, as long as it's just fermented by yeast and not distilled or fortified, I don't see why we need to give it a different name. Now, there is freeze distillation that is used to up the alcoholic content of various brewed beverages. I personally do think a different name should be given to those beverages or at least call them "freeze distilled beers" or something like that. To me (and I'm sure many others), the difference between beer and wine and cider and other stronger beverages made from the same initial ingredients is whether the drinks are fermented, distilled, or fortified.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:46 PM
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Pass. I'm sure it's super sweet.
I wouldn't call it super sweet at all, at least not the vintage I had. There is a sweetness to it, but it's pretty moderate, nothing like a liqueur or anything like that. More like a sherry/port kind of thing. I'm not a fan of sweet drinks, and I didn't find the sweetness overbearing. But it's certainly not "dry," either.

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-19-2019 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 10-24-2019, 01:00 PM
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I've had Brewdog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin which was their first ice distilled beer at 32%. I described it as being like brandy. It was nearly 10 years ago and it was £6 for a 25ml measure.
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