Years ago, Dogfish Head put out a beer called 120 Minute IPA. It was brewed to have an alcohol by volume (ABV) measurement between 15 and 20 percent, which, compared to a Miller Lite or a Coors Light, was about four to five times as strong. The leap wasn’t just an increase in alcohol content, but also in flavor—the beer went big across the board with taste and complexity as well. Thus began our love affair with high ABV beers. And while low ABV beers certainly have their takers, in almost every situation we’ll opt for something more potent than not. Here are six of our favorite higher than average ABV beers that have an equally higher than average appeal due to robust flavors and drinkability.
American Solera | Chet | 13% ABV
This imperial stout, brewed with chocolate, pours a rich, dark brown into a glass. It’s on the sweeter side and is this winter’s go-to pick for dessert in a can. Bonus: It’s great in a chocolate glaze as well, in case you want to get a little creative in the kitchen. Just make sure that you’ve got your recipe planned ahead of time, ’cause at 13 percent, you’ll feel the effects sooner than later.
This beer isn’t overly sweet. Instead, what you get is a rich, complex flavor that brings up coffee (naturally, as it’s made with coffee beans from Summit Coffee), but also some chocolate and smoke. It’s meant for slow drinking evenings and goes good next to a fire—be it a hearth flame or next to your tent, under the stars. Best served at 50 degrees.
Equilibrium Brewery | Deviation Triple India Pale Ale | 10.5%
Damn good, this triple IPA is super drinkable and smooth. Though it checks in at 10.5 percent, it tastes like a much more sessionable beer—one without the overly boozy taste that some high ABV beers can take on. Though the can art’s cool, we recommend pouring it in a glass as you get a puffy, almost cream-like head. The brewers at Equilibrium knew what the hell they’re doing when they made this beer. Stock up if you see it on a shelf near you.
Surly Brewing Co. | Abrasive Double IPA | 9.2%
The can promises an aggressive, fruity, and bold experience. And while those are accurate descriptors, this beer also has a bit of bitterness on the back end which helps it stand out from the legions of other double IPAs. It also happens to be the first double IPA brewed in Minnesota.
The peanut butter beer isn’t a new concept, but we had yet to find one we really took to. Until now. NoDa Brewing Company’s Captain Peanut Butter Imperial Porter is brewed with cocoa nibs and peanut butter, and rather than tasting like a good idea gone bad, it’s hit it on the head. Superbly balanced with definite peanut butter tastes, it’s not overly sweet but just right.
Van Steenberge Brewery | Gulden Draak | 10.5%
Though this dark red triple ale comes in a small bottle with just 11.2 ounces of beer in it, it’s still worth seeking out, especially if you need a break from the sour beers and same-old, same-old IPAs. The Gulden Draak, that’s Golden Dragon to you, has a bit of spicy bite to it combined with a maltiness that’ll warm you up to the core. It’s frisky without being too sweet, full-bodied without being a liquid sandwich. Definitely worth the effort it takes to find.
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