A Word on Beer Strength: Finding the Right Brew for You

Our love affair with beer goes way back. Some of the oldest surviving examples of writing are tablets which contain recipes for, you guessed it, beer. We find references to beer in high culture and pop culture alike, with everyone from Hemingway to Homer Simpson knocking back their favourite brew. Add to that the fact that beer is on average one of the least expensive and more accessible of alcoholic beverages to the of-age general public, and you have the perfect recipe for one of humanity’s most enduring taste sensations.

Still, the question remains: which beers are strongest and where can you find them? This guide can help you get started in tracking down some of the stronger beer options out there.

Which Type?

First thing’s first, which type of beer is the strongest? There are plenty of different varieties out there, many with centuries’ long brewing traditions. So, how can you tell which beers are strongest? While the world of beer is sprinkled with exceptions, a good starting rule of thumb is to say that the darker the beer, the stronger it probably is. The Standard Reference Method (SRM), as the name might imply, is a means of judging beer colour. As such, you can often use SRM values and colour as starting points for determining the strength of a beer.

So, what do these tell us? Ales tend to be on the lighter side, and are correspondingly on the lighter side in both SRM and alcoholic content. At the other end of the spectrum, stouts are darker and often stronger, with Imperial Stouts being some of the darkest and strongest beers out there. Again, there are exceptions to this, but in general the SRM chart is a good place to start.

Which Region?

So, you’ve determined what kind of beer is just dark enough for you. What’s next? For reasons of taste and style, it’s always a good idea to look into the region in which a beer is brewed. This is where some of those aforementioned exceptions come in. Different regions have different brewing standards and traditions, which in turn can affect the strength and colour of your beer.

Of course, you also want to pay attention to texture and taste. To trained taste buds, a German beer will taste different from a Dutch beer, which will taste different from English and Canadian offerings, and so on. Do your research, and find the region which best suits your taste—literally.

Craft or Corporate?

Finally, your quest for refreshing full strength beer is likely to take you into one of the most contentious areas of beer connoisseurship: craft beer or corporate? The latter option allows for far more information on average, while the former is more of a wild card. If you’re looking for a more dependable answer to the question of a beer’s strength, more established brands may be the way to go. However, if you’re eager to dance—and drink—on the wild side, craft options can offer a truly unique drinking experience along with some good variance in terms of beer colour and strength.

Now that you know how and where to look, get out there and find the right brew for you today!