I’m no longer sure what to make of the undoubtedly mock feud between Scotland’s BrewDog and Germany’s Schorschbräu over who can make the world’s strongest beer. I’m sure it’s great publicity for both companies, as each one-ups the other for the title. The latest salvo is BrewDog’s Sink the Bismarck, a clever name given the contestants.
Unlike the last extreme BrewDog beer, Tactical Nuclear Penguin, this one is not a dark beer, but a hoppy one instead. Sink the Bismarck, at 41% abv, bests the latest 40% Schorschbräu beer by one percent.
Sink the Bismarck is a quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create at a staggering 41% ABV.
This is IPA amplified, the most evocative style of the craft beer resistance with the volume cranked off the scale. Kettle hopped, dry hopped then freeze hopped for a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma. A full out attack on your taste-buds ensues as the incredibly smooth liquid delivers a crescendo of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts.
As the BrewDogs readily admit, the whole things is somewhat silly, and I’m sure more people will continue to be angered by all of this, in a sense, I think, missing the point. This is great marketing. And while not everyone liked Tactical Nuclear Penguin, so far the reviews I’ve seen for Sink the Bismark have been mostly positive. Michael Ironside, who writes Diary Of A Hop Head, thought it was “wonderful.” Mark Dredge, who writes Pencil & Spoon, had this to say about it:
Maybe the hoppiest beer I’ve ever had, earthy, citrus, floral, imperial. So thick and full bodied, like syrup, like honey. It smells like a hop sack, so fresh, uniquely fresh, like hop resin, hop oil on the finger tips. It’s sweet like candy but hot like bourbon, it’s smooth but jagged, it’s bitter, it’s intense, it’s astonishing. Five months in the making, this is insane US Extreme IPA meets Scottish whisky, an unimaginable blend.
I’ve bought a bottle and I’m glad. Sink the Bismarck, whatever you think about the name and the marketing approach (it’s a bit of fun, nothing more – initially the name is shocking but it’s more of a jovial up yours than a vicious fuck you), is a special beer. It might not be to everyone’s taste – in all senses – but it’s a remarkable achievement.
Mark was over in San Francisco for SF Beer Week and I had a chance to spend some time with him at a couple of events, to the point where I trust his opinions and appreciate his point of view. Mark was also declared “New Media Writer of the Year” by the British Beer Writers Guild, so I don’t think anyone can dismiss his opinions out of hand. This is not just an extreme stunt beer, but a great-tasting one, as well. I hope I can have an opportunity to try it for myself.
Given that Schorschbräu’s website states that they’re at “40% and still going strong,” I’m sure we can expect yet another stronger release from them. What BrewDog has up their sleeve is anybody’s guess, but you can bet it’s something interesting.