Scotland’s BrewDog brewery recently launched Tactical Nuclear Penguin – a 32-per-cent-alcohol beer it claims to be the world’s strongest. The limited production of 500 bottles sold out in a blaze of publicity. And the web site no longer takes advance orders for batch two, at 35 pounds a bottle.
But I suspect the beer’s almost certainly more collectible than drinkable. I’m attempting to buy a bottle for review, but still have strong memories of a 17 per-cent-alcohol triple bock produced in the late nineties by America’s Samuel Adams brewery.
With other judges at International Beer Awards, Ballarat, I didn’t know how to rate an amazing curio that smelled and tasted more like vegemite than beer.
But if brewing a beer to 17 per cent alcohol pushes yeast to its limits, how did the cunning Scots achieve 32 per cent? Not entirely by brewing. They brewed an imperial stout to 11 per cent, and after maturing it in oak for eighteen months, stuck it in a cool room at minus 20 degrees. As the water in the beer froze, they decanted what was now an uber imperial stout away from the ice crystals – voila.
To view the process, Google ‘tactical nuclear penguin’ and select the ‘vimeo’ link.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009
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