Does Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin Deserve the World Record?

Does Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin Deserve the World Record for highest ABV beer?  Myself and others been wondering this since the press release came out.  Over the last 15 months the Scottish brewery has been working on a monster of a beer to attempt to break the record for highest ABV beer.  On a commercial scale, the highest abv beer is the famed Samuel Adams Utopias. The current record holder is an Eisbock by Schorschbraeu GmbH which rocketed in at 31%ABV, but only had a production of 250 bottles.

So how did Brewdog achieve this record?  Watch this video and see:

Here are my question:

Should it be considered a world record abv for a beer?

My answer is yes, simply because it is a beer.  Granted it did not use yeast and grains solely to reach that ABV level like the Utopias, but used a scientific method instead to extract the higher abv.  The way I see it, eisbock, is an accepted way to make a style of beer, so why shouldn’t this beer be considered a record holder.

My conundrum, what about Samuel Adams utopias that achieved the 27% abv through use of grains and yeast?  Well, I don’t know what types of yeasts Sam Adams is using, since they are proprietary, but I don’t know of any beer yeast stains that can survive at that high alcohol level.  Are they using a champagne yeast strain? if that is the case how is Samuel Adams process philosophically any different then Brewdogs?  One use a non beer yeast (possibly) and the other uses cold temp to freeze out the water.

Does there need to be two categories?

No matter which way you lean, either is good for the craft beer industry.  Innovation and pushing the envelop are two things that keep this industry fresh, creative, and striving for something new.

What is your take?

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21 Responses to “Does Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin Deserve the World Record?”

  1. Zak Says:

    Doesn’t Utopias achieve part of its %abv from spending time in old spirit casks? And doesn’t TNP also do that?

  2. Simply Beer Says:

    Don’t know how much ABV the beer actually gets from that. Samuel Adams is not very forthcoming with the “Secrets” of this beer. I’m sure there are some spirits left in the barrels, but I don’t know how significant it is.

  3. Simply Beer Says:

    The TNP (Tactical Nuclear Penguin) is only a 11% (think that is what the video said) abv before it goes into the freezer, so it isn’t getting any additional abv from the barrels

  4. AverageBeerSnob Says:

    I don’t think aging in casks adds much ABV, it just smooths out the bite from the high alcohol. But, I might be wrong.

  5. Simply Beer Says:

    That is my feeling too, AverageBeerSnob. All barrels do have a small amount of the spirit to keep the wood moist and some of that is absorbed into the beer, but how much would a couple of oz change the abv on a 55g

  6. Kevin M Says:

    It’s going to be so hard to even think about getting my hands on a bottle. They claim they’re bottling 500 330mL servings… 250 will be sold for £75 and the other 250 will be sold for £250 including shares for the “Equity for Punks” campaign. The big problem? “Equity for Punks” is only available to those living in the E.U., ie: no Americans. So that leaves only 250 bottles in Great Britain… that would sell for almost $125 here, if they were even to get shipped here! I think I would buy a few bottles for 410 bucks each if I would get to “own” part of the brewery.

    But, to answer the real question: yes, this beer should be the world record. BrewDog did not use any strange methods or wine yeasts that were not already considered acceptable within the brewing community. Utopias is a beer, but it’s ingredients (that we know of) and methods (that we also know of) are not considered “the norm.” Plus, I can’t think of one beer that tastes anything like Utopias. The freezing method they used to make Tactical Nuclear Penguin is something we can see often on the shelves at many local stores: Aventinus Weizen Eisbock and Kulmbacher Eisbock are both fairly common. Making an ice beer with an Imperial Stout might be new ground, though. Once all that water is taken out, that is a ridiculously concentrated beer with a very high ABV.

    I do think Tactical Nuclear Penguin should get an award for coolest beer name!

  7. Simply Beer Says:

    I’m with you on that Kevin, it is a pretty sick name!

  8. Michael Reinhardt Says:

    Good stuff. Man I want to try this. I’m I agree that these guys ought to have the world record. You’re right to say that Utopias does age in barrels and I’m sure they get some alcohol from that, so I don’t see why it should be discounted in this case.

  9. Simply Beer Says:

    Unfortunately michael, were going to see these bottles on ebay for like 600 if they make to the auction market.

  10. Jim Says:

    Brew Dog sure has been hustling for attention lately. First Tokyo, now TNP and the whole Atlantic IPA aged-at-sea beer. They are stirring things up, that’s for sure.

    i still haven’t tried their stuff. How are their every day beers?

  11. Katie Says:

    As a huge fan of Brew Dog’s stuff, I wish I could get my hands on some as well. My gripe is much like Kevin’s…wish I could become part of the “Equity for Punks” but it isn’t an option for Americans. Not only must this be an amazing tasting beverage, but it does a lot to raise awareness of the fact that a brew can, in fact, be enjoyed as a fine beverage. Are they counterculture? Sure. Iconoclasts? Absolutely. But it’s certainly not random bird-flipping young generation angst.

    @Jim…their everday beers are great, though hard to find here in the US. I know Bruisin’ Ales carries a bunch of them…which is run by a great couple, so go give them some business!

  12. Dave Says:

    Jim,

    There everyday stuff is ok. But the crown jewel for me is Zephyr.

    IPA that has been in a grain whisky cask for 18 months with 30 kgs of fresh strawberries

    Reviews here: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16315/48868

    I think it’s 100 dollars a bottle. But damn I think I might still pay for it =)

  13. Simply Beer Says:

    Dave, wow you think it worth 100 dollars? I’ve never had it, sounds like something to look out for while trolling the depths of ebay!

  14. Dave Says:

    Never said it was worth 100 dollars =) But if I saw it I don’t know if I could hold back.

  15. Dave Says:

    “…No matter which way you lean, either is good for the craft beer industry. Innovation and pushing the envelop are two things that keep this industry fresh, creative, and striving for something new.

    What is your take?”

    My “take” is that I prefer to read the work of bloggers who have opinions.

    But, seriously, isn’t questing for the biggest ABV sort of like the trend a few years ago where everybody was making stupid hot hot sauces with little cutesy-pie names? Not a wisp of useful flavor at all in any of them, either, just a vial full of stupefying, drunken fratboy-on-a-bet retarded hot swill that brought nothing but chemical mayhem to any of your soft, fleshy mucous membranes that happened to be flapping in the breeze within five yards of the crap. And you actually signed the phony “waiver” to buy it.

    See where I’m going with this?

  16. Simply Beer Says:

    Dave, from the HIgh ABV beers I’ve had (Dogfish Head 120, Utopias, among others) I have found them all to have very unique qualities about them. They are by no means your average tasting beer, especially when they share more flavor characteristics to ports. Have you had TNP? I haven’t there for I can’t comment on it’s flavors (hopefully that will change in the near future), What I was trying to get at was the process in which they achieved this; is that really crafting beer? I think so. I don’t care whether or not it is the new hot sauce, Brew Dog is testing the limits of what is possible. Granted I think they gimmicked it up a little to much. But, would there have been this much discussion around beer and what it’s potential could be if they just quietly slid along like Schorschbraeu?

  17. Grrr... Says:

    Freeze-distillation is just that– distillation. By freezing the water and removing it, you can get very high alcohol content out of Coors, for pity’s sake! Brewers can get up to 27 (and sometimes higher) with yeast strains. That takes skill and lots and lots of time (more time set back means more storage costs), justifying a higher price. Freeze distillation is NOT a new concept, people have been doing it ever since the first winter after the invention of beer and/or wine, no doubt.

    On the other hand, “Nuclear Penguin” is a fantastic name for a beer.

  18. EskimoDave Says:

    Schorschbrau made a 39.44% beer. So, yeah, TNP doesn’t have the title and never really did. Schorschbock 40% was going through the legal/approval process when TNP was announced.

  19. Simply Beer Says:

    Thanks EskimoDave good bit of info. were they also done thru the freeze distillation?

  20. Brew Champ Says:

    The name is the sickest ever, I’m all for this method of upping the booze….let em have the record. Boom!

  21. Simply Beer Says:

    And as of a couple days ago they reclaimed the record from Schorschbraeu with a 41% abv Quad IPA that was freeze distilled 4 times, called “Sink the Bismark”. If you ask me it is getting a bit out of hand. Beer that is stronger then most spirits ont he market. Besides bragging rights, whats the point anymore? How soon before we see 50% abv beer?


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