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.