Thursday, May 6, 2010

High Octane suds

Evan George explains

Others that have actively competed for the strongest beer title include Dogfish Head in Delaware and the Boston Beer Co., whose Utopias is also one of the most expensive beers, at more than $150 retail.

Most mass-produced American beers, from Budweiser to Samuel Adams Boston Lager, rarely top 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). A typical Belgian ale, by contrast, runs closer to 8% or 9%, which can be accomplished using traditional brewing techniques. Even barleywine-style beers stick in the vicinity of 11%, well shy of most Chardonnays.

So, if these extreme concoctions are so rare Joe Six-Pack will never taste them, what's all the fuss?

Experimentation plays a key role in the beer industry, says Greg Koch, CEO of Escondido's Stone Brewing Co., one of the nation's largest craft beer producers.

"It's definitely an attention-grabber," Koch says about the high alcohol level. "But it demonstrates what's possible in the world of beer. We like anything that shows people the diversity in beer."

It takes extreme measures — and temperatures — to brew a beer as strong as liquor.