The Most Alcoholic Beers (You Can Actually Buy)
During the dog days of summer, good beer is cold beer. These are the months of the great beer flattening, a time when we all share in simple pleasures. The most pretentious beer snobs and the most ignorant beer philistines reach into the same icy buckets, extract sweaty cans of national brand-name beer, and down the same glacial, barely alcoholic lagers.
But those days are coming to an end. The air will soon be crisp and frosty, autumn leaves will turn brown and tumble down, and the season of serious and (hopefully) transcendent beer will be upon us.
To prime you for a fall of remarkable drinking, we selected the booziest beers you can actually purchase in the United States (many breweries that specialize in the highly alcoholic are tiny, so we selected varieties you can find at a decent beer shop or – more likely – a massive Whole Foods). We discounted brews that sacrificed flavor and balance for as they cram in the booze – a strategy that results in bad fumes and uncomfortable burn. Some of these beers are classic exemplars of Belgian ales, IPAs, and imperial stouts. Others are exemplary reimaginings of those same styles. All of the beers are strong, ranging from an 8.2% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) wallop to an instantly intoxicating 28%. And all are complex, textured, and intricately balanced – beer that's as sophisticated as a good Burgundy or a fine single-malt Scotch. So go ahead, seek these beers out, serve them at cellar temperature, and sip them slowly over a hearty venison stew. There's no better way to toast the end of summer and the beginning of a more substantial season.
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– Eric Benson