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Once a beer drinker ventures into the strong beer category, they hardly ever return. Unlike light beers the likes of Miller Light, PBR and Coors Light, which frankly all kind of taste the same (you know it’s true), strong beers offer much more variety. You get the choice of IPAs, Belgians, Bocks, Porters — the list goes on and on.
What constitutes a strong beer? We think it’s anything over 8% ABV. Listen, we know the strongest beers out there far exceed 8% ABV, but the point of a beer is to actually enjoy it, right? It’s a slippery slope for strong beers. A beer can go from tasteful to downright awful with too much booze.
Our picks below might not be the strongest beers in the world, but hell, they are some of the most delicious and will put your keester on the floor if you aren’t careful. It’s five o’clock somewhere. Time to go to flavor town.
Here are our recommendations for the best-tasting, strongest beers around.
1. Delirium Tremens Belgian Strong Ale
Everything about this beer is different in the best kind of way. It’s uncharacteristically strong for a Belgian Pale Ale, plus the container is ceramic as opposed to a typical glass or aluminum can. And the tasting experience is equally as unique. It’s tart and fruity like you’d expect from a lighter beer, yet malty and spicy. Let the pink elephant on the label be a warning: this beer is strong and it is delicious.
2. Melvin 2×4 Double IPA
This is a highly regarded double IPA in the beer tasting world. It has won Gold awards in several tasting competitions including the Alpha King Championship. For being as strong as it is, it is unbelievably smooth and clean. It’s citrusy like you’d expect from an IPA, but doesn’t bite nearly as hard as you’d expect from a double IPA. It’s drinkability is an 11 out of 10 despite its boozy makeup. There’s a reason these are nicknamed “two by floor.”
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head also makes a 60 minute and 120 minute IPA, but the sweet spot and arguably the most drinkable is the 90 minute. The 120 minute is a bit too boozy (hey, I thought this article was about the strongest beers?) and takes over the flavor notes. The 90 minute strikes the right balance of bitter and smooth, with fresh piney notes along with citrusy aromas and malt. Put on your party pants and get a 90 minute in your hands.
4. Wasatch Brewery Devastator
This double bock is dark and dangerous. At 8% ABV, this one packs a punch, but goes down oh, so smooth — a scary combination. Devastators are rich and full-bodied but don’t rip your face off at the end (regardless of the name). It’s rather smooth for such a strong double bock. We only wish it still had the old label of the ram running through a building in Salt Lake City — it was equal parts funny and awesome.
5. Ballast Point Victory at Sea
The Victory at Sea is like an absolutely delicious dessert that will put your ass on the floor. The imperial porter was steeped in coffee and vanilla then aged in High West Bourbon and rye whiskey oak casks to create the Victory at Sea. The result of the process is a delicious caramelly, smoky and almondy flavor — we told you it was like a dessert — that’s a great celebratory beer or nightcap.
6. Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptista
If you like coffee flavorings in your beer, this is your jam. The Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptista is a stout 12.2% ABV (pun intended), yet easily drinkable. With strong Mexican coffee and cacao flavors as well as vanilla and cinnamon to smooth out the bitterness, this beer will put a little pep in your step after dinner.
7. Roadhouse The Walrus Hazy IPA
Many Hazy IPAs top out around 7% ABV, but The Walrus doesn’t give a . . . darn. Even though Wyoming couldn’t be farther from anything tropical, it has delicious citrus and tropical fruit flavorings but packs plenty of punch at 8.3% ABV. Why can’t all hazy IPAs be this delicious and come in 16 oz cans?
8. North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale
This strong and dark Belgian Ale pays homage to monastery monks who originated the beer, and to the monk of Jazz, Thelonious Monk, who has inspired jazz pianists far and wide. Beyond the awesome name and picture-perfect label, the dark beer is chocolatey and sweet, with aromas of molasses, vanilla, dark fruit and a bit of a bite from the 9.4% ABV. This is the beer all the cool cats are drinking, ya dig?
9. Elysian Brewing Space Dust IPA
This is just a plain ol’ damn good IPA. Elysian Brewing out of Seattle, Washington takes advantage of those citrusy pacific north hops to create a bright and fruity IPA that is equally as strong as it is delicious. Its light taste and dry finish make it a great beer for summer and backyard BBQs.
10. Squatters Hop Rising
If you think “give me all the hops” every time you pick up a beer, Squatters Hop Rising can fill that demand. This beer has plenty of bite and plenty of booze with 9% ABV, but has a smooth finish, and is actually quite drinkable despite its malty and hoppy profile.