The Scottish swillers at BrewDog Brewery have made a reputation for doing the unexpected when it comes to beer. Irreverence is the only thing predictable about their marketing, brewing and daily business. And the introduction of the latest brew from the award-winning house is a perfect case in point.
Meet the Tactical Nuclear Penguin. But be respectful when you meet it - it's a 32 percent alcohol beer. Yes, 32 percent. In case you're wondering, beer in the U.S. clocks in at a paltry 3 percent to 12 percent.
In fact, up until this monster brew was bottled, the strongest beer currently available on the world market was Samuel Adams Utopias which came in at a paltry 25 percent firewater.
Is this a beer you crack open a six-pack with when the game's on? Hells no. It's sipping brew, as the penguin herders will tell you:
Beer has a terrible reputation in Britain, it's ignorant to assume that a beer can't be enjoyed responsibly like a nice dram or a glass of fine wine. A beer like Tactical Nuclear Penguin should be enjoyed in spirit sized measures. It pairs fantastically with vanilla bean white chocolate it really brings out the complexity of the beer and complements the powerful, smoky and cocoa flavours.
A warning on the label states: This is an extremely strong beer, it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.
So shotgunning is right out - though you might be able to sneak in a game of beer pong on the way to the emergency room for stomach pumping.
Of course, in a country like Britain sensitive to the perils of alcohol abuse, the beer is creating a firestorm of controversy. A report in The Guardian showcases the argument being made that Penguin is a beer made simply to get people smashed on their wat to a hooligan party. It's an assertion rejected outright by the brewery, which points to its high pricepoint and relatively exclusive distribution in saying that theirs is a brew made for sipping, not slamming:
Jack Law, chief executive of the campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland, said BrewDog was guilty of "childlike attention-seeking" by releasing the beer on the day the alcohol bill was published.
"The fact they have achieved a new world record is not admirable, that's for sure," he said. "It is a product with a lot of alcohol in it, that's all. To dress it up as anything else is cynical."
BrewDog has a history with the quest for strong beers and pushing boundaries. They came out with the 18.2 percent Tokyo, an oak-aged stout, much to the chagrin of a British watchdog, the Portman Group, that has petitioned the country's pubs and bars to steer clear of the brew in just the latest dustup between the two adversaries.
In the meantime, don't head off to the corner liquor store for a case while you're buying lottery tickets and smokes. This Penguin likely won't be making it to U.S. shores anytime soon. Between restrictive import issues and the small, regional nature of the brewery, if you want to go nuclear, you'll have to buy a ticket to Scotland.
At roughly $70 a bottle - or you can pay $500 and also receive a share of the company in an interesting sales strategy - this is no cheap buzz. And speaking of buzz, deman has quickly outstripped supply. So don't bother asking Santa for a shiny bottle under the tree, as this message on the BewDog site indicates:
Due to unforeseen demand and interest in the beer, the initial bottling of Tactical Nuclear Penguin has now sold out. The good news however, is that the 2nd instalment is almost good to go. We will be bottling this batch on the 17th of December.