Earlier this week, Ohio raised its collective glasses to House Bill 37, legislation that eliminated its 12 percent limit on the alcohol-by-volume of beer sold or brewed in the state. So what's the best possible way to commemorate the occasion? With a record-setting beer that is bottled and sold inside a taxidermy squirrel, obviously.
BrewDog, the always entertaining Scottish craft brewery, has announced that it will be introducing its 55% ABV End of History beer into the American market, brewed at its soon-to-open 10,000 square-foot brewery just outside of Columbus, Ohio. And each of the extremely limited-edition bottles will be tastefully packaged inside a dead rodent. The End of History is the third extra-high ABV beer that BrewDog has released, out-boozing its previous efforts, Sink The Bismarck (41% ABV) and Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32% ABV). The beer was originally released in the United Kingdom in 2010 and the dozen beer-stuffed squirrels and stoats sold out almost immediately.
This time, if you want to get your paws on, um, the End of History's tiny paws, then you'd better have a bank account that's as big as your alcohol tolerance. Only 10 bottles will be produced, and they will only be available to investors who commit at least $20,000 to BrewDog's Equity for Punks USA crowdfunding initiative. Before it even turned its attention to our side of the Atlantic, BrewDog had raised more than $33 million during four rounds of Equity for Punks crowdfunding, an eye-watering amount pledged by more than 46,000 shareholders worldwide.
MUNCHIES recently talked beer, punks and well-preserved animals with James Watt, the co-founder of BrewDog.
MUNCHIES: The End of History is the third super-high ABV beer that BrewDog has produced. Why or how do you guys keep topping yourself with the strength of the beer? James Watt: We love to challenge people's perceptions about what beer is and how it can be served. People have been conditioned to think that beer is something that you have to drink in a pint, and it's usually made by a big multinational company, and we want to get away from all of that.
You've found that there's a market for that kind of beer? There's a bigger market than we can supply with this beer. The community of beer aficionados is expanding very quickly on both sides of the pond and just the beer scene overall is undergoing a radical change at the moment. It's not just [about] good, fast, hoppy beers; it's pushing the boundaries in terms of alcohol and in terms of how beer is made.
What's the brewing process for a beer like the End of History? This beer takes seven months to make and we use a technique known as ice distillation where we freeze the beer down to -40 degrees Celsius for a period of months. Then we can take away the ice and we concentrate the liquid, we concentrate the alcohol, but most importantly, we're concentrating the flavors and the aromas.
How does that concentration affect the taste? It's so, so intense. This is a beer that you need to sip the same way you would sip a really nice Scotch whisky or bourbon. It also packs a hell of a punch, being at 55% alcohol content.
It's a beer that you might need a beer chaser for. Is the appeal of this beer more about the experience of drinking it, or is it just to try the strongest beer or most expensive or one of those superlatives? It's all about the experience. If you compare it to conventional whisky, whisky is heat distilled so it's essentially a vaporization and purification process. With us, we're ice distilling—which is a relatively new technique that we're pioneering. What you're tasting has a lot more body to carry those flavors. It has a depth of flavor, but a different type of body for an alcoholic drink at 55% ABV.
How many bottles are you producing of this beer? It takes seven months and at the end of it, we end up with 10 bottles, hence why it's so difficult to get your hands on.
When you released it in the UK, there were 12 bottles? There were 12 bottles, we sold them for £700 ($933) each and it sold out in 20 minutes.
And this one, the American version, is $20 grand? Well, you get it if you invest in our business. The beer itself doesn't cost $20,000 but it's only for people who invest $20,000 in our business, in Equity for Punks USA.
When it comes to your expansion into the United States, how did you pick Columbus, Ohio? We loved the city, we loved the people, we loved the vibe there. There are so many people making beers like us on both coasts, but we just felt like there was an opportunity in Ohio.
So why taxidermy squirrels? We wanted to do something that was at the same time beautiful and disturbing, something that made a statement and tried to make people stop and think about all of the possibilities that beer actually has.
Do you have a dedicated Squirrel Guy where you source all of your squirrels from? We do. We're very tight with our taxidermist.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.