Let’s be honest, for all the hoppy aroma, bourbon barrel notes, and fruity esters of a given beer, its greatest asset is its ability to make you feel good. And some nights you want to get socially lubricated quicker than others. Luckily, on those occasions, you don’t have to sacrifice taste for a higher ABV. Here are our 15 favorite beers that clock in at 10% or higher alcohol by volume.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
Every Black Friday, crowds gather outside of bottle shops in hopes of procuring a few bottles of BCBS and its gang of variants—for good reason. Goose Island’s legendary stout is a creamy mouthful of flavor. Chocolate. Vanilla. Dark fruit. Coffee. Flavors that might remind you of a piece of mocha cake drizzled with bourbon. Link
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
A can filled with a 10.5% ABV stout? Well, your relaxing beach trip just got shot to shit. Oskar Blues, the king of the can, packages their rich, chocolaty Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout in some portable aluminum for your traveling pleasure. Just because this RIS comes in a funky RIS vessel, don’t think it’s not fantastic. Ten Fidy is a sweeter stout packed with notes of toffee and coffee. Just warm the can in your hands a bit. Link
Trappistes Rochefort 10
For a lesson in hiding alcohol in big beers, turn to the Belgians. A great example of this is Trappistes Rochefort 10, a wonderfully balanced Quad that drinks far too easy. It’s a shame that in our American hoppy arms race, many overlook fairly accessible overseas gems like this one from Brasserie de Rochefort. Sweet, bubbly, and packed with dark fruit notes, Trappistes Rochefort 10 is a stellar beer you need to be careful with.
Knee Deep Simtra
Looking for something sweet, resinous, and packed with citrus notes? Knee Deep has your hop fix. Simtra (named for the Simcoe and Citra hops used) is a sticky IPA that will get your night started with a bang. At 11.25% ABV, it isn’t for the weak palated, but for those who find Victory’s DirtWolf too tame, this is what we’d recommend. Link
Tweak is the Imperial Stout for fans of the style who like their flavors taken to 11. Big and boozy, Tweak is Avery’s fantastic Mephistopheles’ Stout with a helping of coffee. With intense flavors, it begs to be warmed in the hands, and at 17.81% ABV, you’re going to want to take your time with it, anyway.
De Struise Pannepot
Pannepot is a beer we find ourselves recommending often. The unique brew from De Struise exists somewhere between a Belgian strong ale and a stout, and it’s highlighted by some classic Belgian caramel sweetness. If you skip the import section regularly, make it a point to pick a bottle up in 2016. Trust us. Link
Carton Regular Coffee
Carton’s super unique brew, Regular Coffee, is meant to taste like a cup of coffee with a milk and two sugars. It does. But if you’re were expecting a low ABV stout to pull off that trick, you’d be wrong. Regular Coffee is an “Imperial Cream Ale,” and that creamy, flavorful body hides a ridiculous 12% alcohol by volume. It’s like your morning coffee, if your morning coffee got you bombed. Link
AleSmith Speedway Stout
If we had to pick our favorite beer to sip fireside in the dead of winter, it may very well be Speedway Stout. It’s roasty, creamy, and, at 12% ABV, will warm you from the inside. All the variants are spectacular—Vietnamese Coffee, Kopi Luwak, and others—but the original is nearly perfect as is.
Russian River Consecration
Hopheads go crazy for Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, but sour fans know that Russian River is more than just an IPA factory. Of all of Russian River’s glorious sours, our favorite is Consecration, a Belgian dark ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with some currants. The wild ale introduces some real tart berry flavor to the effervescent body. And at 10%, this is no easy evening Berliner Weisse. Link
Founders Imperial Stout
Not every beer on this list has to be a pain to track down. The (relatively) accessible Founders Imperial Stout does the trick, and tastes fantastic in the process. It’s just a solid Russian Imperial Stout. You’ll get notes of bittersweet chocolate, a bit of booze, and roasted malts. Proof that a beer doesn’t have to be rare to be good. Link
On the opposite end of the scarcity spectrum, and also from the fine folks at Founders, is CBS. Canadian Breakfast Stout made its return in 2015, and everyone who snagged a snifter knows that the whale lives up to the hype. Founders takes an Imperial Stout, blends it with coffee and chocolate, and then ages it in bourbon barrels that once held maple syrup. It should be on your bucket list, and you should be on the lookout for the next batch to hit lines.
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Peche ‘n Brett
Have you had Seizoen Bretta, the flagship beer from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales and loved it? Do you like peaches? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you need to add Peche ‘n Brett to your bucket list. The saison geniuses at Logsdon Farmhouse Ales takes their prized brew and add—and this term is apt—a shit-ton of peaches. The result is one of the most flavorful, fruity farmhouse ales we’ve ever laid lips on. Link
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA is kinda like an OG in the big brew game. Brewed for well over a decade, Dogfish Head’s super IPA clocks in—depending on the release—anywhere from 15-20% ABV. Fresh off the line, it’s powerful stuff, but give it some time and, unlike most other IPAs, it’s gold. Link
Funky Buddha Morning Wood
Funky Buddha has a thing for cranking up both the flavor and the fun in their brews. Often that means concocting bizarrely delicious oddities that taste like French Toast, peanut butter and jelly, and sweet potato casserole. Morning Wood is the perfect example of how well they can do it with a tried and true flavor combo. They take their classic Maple Bacon Coffee Porter and toss it in some bourbon barrels to add even more depth of flavor. The result is the booziest breakfast you’ve ever come across. Link
Firestone Walker 18 Anniversary Ale
We’re going to get very specific on this last one. While every single Anniversary Ale that Firestone Walker has put out, there was something about the XVIII that sticks with us. The aroma is intoxicating, with lots of caramel and dark fruit, and the alcohol is hidden well. Since it’s a beer that can stand some aging, it’s worth tracking down the 18 if you still can.