Beer Alert! BrewDog's Penguin & Bismarck confirmed for Chicago

Beer Alert! BrewDog's Penguin & Bismarck confirmed for Chicago

Following through with this silly thread I started, I can now report that two of the strongest beers ever made will be sold in Chicago soon.

brewdog-sink-usa.jpg (Feature - Small)

Binny's Beverage Depot's Assistant Beer Buyer, Kyle Fornek, posted on the retailer's web site that they will be getting a small shipment of Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck! from BrewDog, based near Aberdeen, northern Scotland. Proudly waving the banner of "Beer for Punks," BrewDog has been pushing the boundaries of both style and propriety. When UK government regulators complained about their naming an 18.2% oak-aged imperial stout "Tokyo," they responded by creating a 1.1% beer (later 0.5%) called "Nanny State."

BrewDog also decided to go for the title of "strongest beer in the world." Tactical Nuclear Penguin in 2009 was the first result: after 18 months of aging in Scotch barrels, the imperial stout was frozen at an ice cream factory and the frozen water drawn off, leaving a beer with 32% alcohol by volume, leaping over the previous champ, Sam Adams' 27% Utopias. This action provoked a sort of contest with the German brewer Schorschbräu, which used to same methods to produce an eisbock, Schorschbock, at 40% above, the same strength as most liquors. BrewDog shot back in January with Sink the Bismarck!, an Imperial India Pale Ale amped up to 41%. When Schorschbräu offered at 43% version of its Eisbock, BrewDog responded with "The End of History," a 55% alcohol ale infamously sold in just 11 bottles, all inserted inside of stuffed squirrels and stoats.

(A week after "End of History" was announced, Dutch brewer Brouwerij het Koelschip claimed it had a beer named "Start the Future" that ran 60%. But some of that alcohol was created by plain old distilling.)

No taxidermy involved here. Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck! remain in production and were announced as coming to the U.S. in limited quantities last month. I posted updates as they were spotted in Texas and Colorado, and now BrewDog's Chicago distributor, Louis Glunz, will provide Binny's with a limited allotment of bottles for sale in Chicago (We have an email out to Glunz asking if any other stores wanted to carry these pricey beers. We will update if a reply comes).

Fornek told me that he does not know how many bottles Binny's will get yet, and which stores, He noted, "I have had customers ask for bottles at our Grand Ave. (Chicago) and Algonquin stores, so those two will most likely be on the list." He was able to confirm the likely pricing on these beers in 375 ml (12.7 oz.) bottles: Tactical Nuclear Penguin for $84.99, and Sink the Bismarck! at $112.99. Spend wisely, my apprentice.

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  • I also chatted with a beer bar owner who said Glunz had offered him some of these beers. He said no for now, but that may change, or some other location might offer them. The problem, of course, is the cost. Any reasonable markup, plus taxes, is going to see a 2 oz. shot of Sink the Bismarck! go for $30 or $40. And each bottle would have six servings at that rate. Even understanding that, how many clients would just decide the bar is trying to rip them off at that price. Hey, I paid $20 for that shot of Utopias, just so I could finally say I've had some.

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