Oh my god! Stop the presses! BrewDog has done it again! Having been denied any long-standing shock value fame from the release of Tactical Nuclear Penguin by Schorschbräu and their 40% alcohol Eisbock, Brewdog has struck back with a 41-percenter: Sink the Bismarck!

I am as eager as anybody to try TNP, and through the magic of friends and corporate globalization, I will be able to do so next week. I can’t wait! But even in the spirit of friendly competition between breweries this is getting silly and it won’t be much longer before it’s just plain old.

I can only assume that StB is ice distilled a la TNP. I can’t say that I’m an expert in freezing beer or eisbock production, but as far as I know there’s no reason to stop at 41%. You can just keep on distilling it further. All you really need is a colder ice cream factory, right? So, in the grand scheme of things there’s no good stopping point for this marketing competition, right? It’s just going to go up and up every few months, 1% at a time until they’re selling super-sweet whiskey and calling it beer. Unless you can tell me that either the 40%-er or the 41%-er tastes like it was made by magic gnomes, then in the grand scheme of things I’ll still prefer a nice smoky scotch to this beer-flavored schnapps.

I can rant all I want, but these guys are really funny.

You want to REALLY impress me? Make a 4% alcohol beer that is flavorful and wonderful that I will want to order every single time I go to the pub. You know how hard that is to find?

I don’t really want to direct this rant solely at BrewDog. They’re the current perpetrators, but they’re only the current exemplification of an overall problem in the beer marketplace. I ask this:

Is “up” really the only direction to go? In the grand quest for beer to be treated as seriously as wine and spirits, are we really going to resort to gimmicks and marketing ploys? Are we so out of ideas already that the only thing we can do to make a better beer is “put more shit in” or “make it bigger than the last”?

I wonder how many people are out clamoring for the world’s strongest wine. I wonder how may people drink Bacardi 151 over the Bacardi 80-proof for reasons other than “fire” and “drunk.”

I guess at the end of the day, I’d love to see people creating these stories and indulging in this quirky creativity that could so easily define the craft market segment – BrewDog does that SO well – but I want to see it about a beer that is, oh, you know, available and accessible. Instead of creating something that will draw people in that’s delicious and easy to drink, the craft brewing industry seems to be hell bent on making products fit into smaller and smaller elitist niche markets. I’m not sure that’s the direction to go in to rise above that 5% market share.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe StB does tastes like it was crafted by elves and unicorns and it will be the beer that wins the world over and stops the A-B InBev machine, but somehow I don’t think it will be anything more than another badge for beer geeks. “You had Utopias? Well I tried Sink the Bismarck!”

Would I try it? In a heartbeat. Send some over. Prove me wrong. I want to be wrong. I want it to be accessible and awesome. But I bet it’s a try-it-once “can I just have an IPA please?” kind of beer.

What do you think?

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