The 57.8-percent ABV Strength In Numbers find BrewDog and Schorschbrau working together a decade after their much-hyped alcohol arms race.

By Mike Pomranz
September 18, 2020
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Back before BrewDog’s publicity stunts pivoted into the bizarre—things like the founders changing their names to Elvis, dropping stuffed cats from the sky, and launching a craft beer “airline”—the Scottish brewery had another headline-grabbing trick: producing the world’s strongest beers. Back in 2009, the then-two-year-old brewery released a 32-percent ABV beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin, specifically created to swipe the “world’s strongest beer” title from Germany’s 31-percent ABV Schorschbrau Schorschbock. A quick 40-percent ABV retort from Schorschbrau led to BrewDog releasing the 41-percent ABV Sink the Bismarck the next year. Schorschbrau then ramped up its Schorschbock to 43-percent ABV, which led BrewDog to release the now-legendary 55-percent ABV End of History—a beer sold inside taxidermic squirrels. In 2011, Schorschbrau countered one final time with a 57-percent Schorschbock, a move that finally brought BrewDog to their knees.

Courtesy of Brewdog

A decade later, most of us have moved on from this ABV rivalry (these days, lower ABV beers are all the rage), but BrewDog and Schorschbrau hadn’t forgotten. And to honor their previous ABV battle, the two brewers decided to engage in a modern beer trend—collaboration—creating a new candidate for the “world’s strongest beer” title together, called Strength In Numbers.

“The time has come to pen another chapter,” BrewDog wrote on its website. “This time, it’s one of camaraderie as we join forces with Schorschbrau for the ultimate collaboration. Strength in Numbers is a 57.8-percent beer that reaches its colossal ABV through the traditional eisbock method, which means freezing the beer and removing chunks of ice (water) so that you’re left with the concentrated high ABV liquid. The beer also features a blend of BrewDog’s own Death or Glory, an ice distilled Belgian golden ale that’s been sitting in whisky casks for 10 years. The result is unlike anything you've had before or are likely to have again.”

Strength In Numbers was officially released yesterday, September 17, in tiny 40-milliliter bottles with a big price tag: £28.95—or about $38. Unfortunately for extreme beer fans, those bottles appear to already be gone. “This sold out pretty fast,” BrewDog co-founder James Watt posted to Twitter last night. Maybe mark your calendar for 2030 to see if these two breweries celebrate the two-decade mark of the rivalry?

And yet, despite all the hoopla, debate still exists about whether Strength In Numbers can really claim it’s the “world’s strongest beer” at all. At 67.5-percent ABV, Snake Venom from Brewmeister is certainly “stronger;” however, the “beer” is fortified with additional alcohol, meaning many people disqualify it. Speaking of which, since BrewDog and Schorschbrau are using “freeze distillation” to raise the alcohol levels, some traditionalists may argue that the strongest beer should only be judged by fermentation. Regardless, Strength In Numbers makes for a great beer history lesson—even if it doesn’t come stuffed in a squirrel.