As I mentioned yesterday, at Brews News we tend not to feel the obligation to publish every media release that lands in our overflowing in tray. Even so, some are easier to ignore than others. One of the easier ones of late was a media release from a Sydney bottleshop trumpeting the “first time the current world’s strongest beer has been available in Australia”. They were selling it for $200 a bottle.
These beers had been so thoroughly discredited, we simply ignored the release. We would have preferred to keep ignoring them except that yesterday Beer & Brewer unquestioningly enthused about the beers in their weekly mailout, prompting a number of emails and comments to us about the truth behind the beers.
Ultra-strong beers are nothing new. A few years ago the beer world experienced a minute’s excitement as BrewDog, the perpetual adolescents of the beer world, engaged in a pissing contest to create the world’s strongest beer. It was briefly an interesting exercise that got people thinking about stronger beer and brewing techniques, before degenerating into BrewDog’s usual cynical self promotion. The beers themselves were, like abseiling down a skyscraper, an experience more than a pleasure; a beer geek box to be ticked before returning to the enjoyment of drinking good beer for its inherent quality.
But there was at least, at first, a point to these beers. The new beers from Scottish brewery Brewmeister don’t have a point. They are strongly alcoholic for the sake of being strongly alcoholic. And even there they have been comprehensively exposed on UK blog The BeerCast in a blog post titled “The lies behind the ‘strongest beers in the world’“.
We received the media release about these beers from the Sydney bottleshop that had imported them on 28 May, boasting they had been received directly from Brewmeister’s Lewis Shand. However, they don’t seem to be much of a favour by Lewis given that, in a post dated 27 May, he admitted that he was no longer producing one of those beers, Armageddon, because when tests on some batches showed the strength was as low as 15.25%, less than a quarter of what it should be.
“We do not know where the mistake happened or how, but we know when they happened so we are in the process of contacting customers we believe may have had this batch to offer Snake Venom as a replacement. I would like to apologise deeply to anyone who got one of these bottles and you should expect to hear from me via email if you purchased direct. I really am truly sorry. At the time we were just 3 naïve guys in a barn with some stainless steel pots and a lot of ambition.”
Hopefully the bottles being sold here for $200 are not from this batch.
As for Snake Venom, he said:
“We get the ABV of this checked randomly now and the equipment we use is far better. If it falls short or too high, we can correct this with pure alcohol or normal ABV beer (or as we call it, raw snake venom which is pre-frozen snake venom). If we correct the ABV we have to add alcohol as an ingredient.”
“We can correct this with pure alcohol”. Fantastic. Nice work from the brewery that proclaims “We don’t add chemicals, rice, maize, preservatives, colourings or any of that nonsense.” Just pure alcohol.
So, when the media release from local retailer comes accompanied by the opinion that “the more of the strange and outright hard to get beers we get into Australia the better it is for the craft beer movement here.” Our answer is, “actually, no. Good beer made by brewers who know what they are doing is what the craft beer movement needs, not juvenile gimmicks.”
Or, in BeerCast’s words, “Brewmeister are the brewing equivalent of those involved in the horsemeat scandal. Every beer producer, beer retailer, and beer drinker should be horrified by what Brewmeister have done…”