BrewDog is the largest independently owned brewery in Scotland, and its most popular beers are ubiquitous on multiple continents. It’s best known, though, for a widely hyped series of audacious and extremely hard-to-find freeze-distilled brews, each of which briefly held the title of world’s strongest beer: Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a barrel-aged imperial stout concentrated to 32 percent alcohol by three partial freezings; Sink the Bismarck!, an alleged quadruple IPA iced four times to reach 41 percent; and the End of History, a blond Belgian ale infused with juniper berries and nettles that reigned for less than a month this summer despite an astonishing 55 percent alcohol content.

BrewDog only made a dozen bottles of the End of History, each encased in the taxidermied body of a roadkill stoat or squirrel, with the neck of the bottle protruding from the animal’s mouth. They sold out fast, even at more than $700 apiece, but Sink the Bismarck! can still be had—it was released in February 2010, and in December a few bottles finally made it to Chicago. I stumbled across it at the Lush Wine & Spirits in West Town and wrestled with my good sense and dignity for almost an hour before coughing up $125 for the privilege of tasting one of the most ridiculous beers ever brewed.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid, and he’s also split two national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and one in in 2020 for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.