Thursday, July 22, 2010

The End of Beer?

BrewDog
Only 12 bottles have been made, at $800 or so per bottle. Each is packaged in a stuffed 'road kill' rodent (really). Each is a 55% alcohol by volume malt-based beverage produced by fermentation and subsequent extensive fractional freezing. In spirits talk, that's 110 proof. The product is called The End of History, and it's made by Scottish brewery Brew Dog.

The name comes from an infamous piece of analytical history published in the early 1990s, in which author Francis Fukiyama claimed that Western-style liberal democracy had ultimately triumphed against all other models. Subsequent war, atrocity, statist hegemony, and economic collapse have challenged that thesis.

Have I tasted The End of History? No.

Would I wish to?

Curiosity abounds, but if alcohol were truly the end-point of beer, would we not simply distill (or fractionally freeze) all fermented barley wash to 200 proof, re-carbonate the firewater, and be done with it? This testosterone-driven 'mine is so much bigger that yours' concoction is indeed sui generis: it may not be a beer (and all the more a silly distraction, as several of the brewery's 'regular' beers are quite tasty), but it is a special achievement.

I'd rather have a wee dram of whisky, thank you.

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  • BrewDog's owner/brewers are skillful marketers. One datum: this post contributes to their publicity campaign, free of charge.
  • Proof refers to a measurement of ethyl alcohol in a beverage, and is usually only applied to distilled beverages. In the US, it's determined simply by multiplying the alcohol (by volume) times two.
  • A simpler, if less exact, phrase to describe 'fractional freezing' would be 'freeze distillation,' that is, concentrating a beer by freezing the constituent water. Most beer produced falls in the range of 4 - 6% alcohol by volume (abv), and is thus comprised of about 95% water. The End of History contained approximately 25% abv after fermentation, and thus contained much less water before being subjected to freezing procedures.
  • UPDATE: BrewDog's marketing director, James Watt, responded to criticism: "How many of the haters are stuck in a job they hate, working for a company that sucks, sitting on their ale soaked arses with nothing better to do than to become uber self righteous in a bid to justify their own existence?"

5 comments:

  1. I assume the beverage will be uncarbonated. That concentration of alcohol will not let CO2 stay in the liquid.

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  2. I must say, the fact that it is "packaged in a stuffed 'road kill' animal" just begs the question, "...Why?"

    I'm am also very curious how this tastes (minus the dead road kill animal), but not quite $800 curious.

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  3. I must say, the fact that it is "packaged in a stuffed 'road kill' animal" just begs the question, "...Why?"
    To annoy or wind up the PETA lobby as well as the anti-alcohol lobby, thus getting two bites at the publicity cherry at once.
    Proof … It's simply the alcohol by volume times two.
    It's a bit more complicated in the UK, where degrees proof is abv times 1.75.

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  4. I have home-brewed a clone in response:

    http://beerinbaltimore.blogspot.com/2010/07/response-to-latest-high-alcohol-beer.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. J.R. Woolsey7/27/10, 2:18 PM

    having tried the "Sink the Bismark", I have to say that I thought they were done with the high ABV beers. As Tom mentions, it distracts from their other tasty offerings.

    However, isn't the spirit and soul of craft brewing to try things untried?....to do what "they" say can't be done?....to EXPERIMENT?....to live for the possibilities? I say cheers Brew Dog.....and the quote responding to haters.... I can't wait till it winds up on one of those inspirational posters with a kitten on it.

    ReplyDelete

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