The Story of the World’s Strongest Beer and Why It’s Inside a Squirrel
Daniel Xu 03.23.15
What does a beer with a staggering 55 percent alcohol content have in common with a taxidermied squirrel? Well, almost nothing, unless you are talking about what was at one point both the world’s strongest and most expensive bottle of beer. Brewed by BrewDog of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in Scotland, the “End of History” is a unique blonde Belgian ale infused with nettles from the nearby Scottish Highlands and juniper berries. Only 12 bottles were ever made, with 11 going to retail at about $750 each. Much of that cost is due to the beer’s unique cover—a professionally taxidermied squirrel, stout, or rabbit.
“The impact of The End of History is a perfect conceptual marriage between art, taxidermy and craft brewing. The bottles are at once beautiful and disturbing – they disrupt conventions and break taboos, just like the beer they hold within them,” wrote James Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of BrewDog.
The beer caused a scandal when it was first released five years ago, yet only a handful were able to taste it. Animal rights groups widely criticized the beer as being in poor taste, while beer aficionados speculated about the actual taste of the beer itself. BrewDog, for its part, released a video in an attempt to explain why they decided to choose animal covers to go along with the brew. In addition to being rather odd, the video also documented BrewDog’s friendly rivalry with German beer maker Schorschbock.
Not to be outdone, Schorschbock quickly came out with brew 57, which as its title would suggest, had an ABV of 57.5 percent and neatly edged out the End of History as the world’s strongest beer. Despite more saber rattling from both beer makers, eventually another brewery, Brewmeisters of Moray, Scotland, would take the world record with its “Snake Venom” brew at 67.5 percent ABV.
That didn’t mean that BrewDog packed up and quit. When the End of History came out, the brewery only employed 39 employees with one dog and just one bar serving BrewDog beer. Five years later, the company now employs 358 employees (and one dog) and owns 26 BrewDog bars across the United Kingdom and Sweden. The End of History, as its creators hoped, drew attention to the brewery’s odd way of doing things and perhaps most importantly, its love of good beer.
“In true BrewDog fashion we’ve torn up convention, blurred distinctions and pushed brewing and beer packaging to its absolute limits. This beer is an audacious blend of eccentricity, artistry and rebellion; changing the general perception of beer one stuffed animal at a time,” its creators wrote.
Whatever happened to the beer, though? Upon release, the End of History immediately sold out and it is likely that most were consumed. While there may be a few unopened bottles still left out there in the hands of collectors, at least everyone who purchased one also got a more permanent souvenir.