Hops, Helicopters and History – The World Records of Beer

The Guinness Book of World Records is celebrating its 60th anniversary next year. That’s 60 years of eye-milk squirting, sword-swallowing and living with scorpions. I’ve always liked World Records—they make a great bar game. So it’s fitting that the Guinness Book of World Records was dreamed up by the managing director of the Guinness Brewery back in 1951. This fellow, Sir Hugh Beaver (yep, that’s his name) got into an argument while in a pub in Ireland about Europe’s fastest game bird.  The book was initially meant as a marketing gimmick, but the idea took off—and here we are now, balancing beers on our heads and collecting rubber ducks.

So in honor of Guinness’s anniversary, and as an excuse to delve into the weirder side of beer, I checked out what’s going on in the world of beer records. A lot, it turns out—though I think the best are not covered by Guinness.

Snake Venom

Snake Venom

Strongest Beer Ever Sold (not yet official)

Snake Venom – 67.5%

If the press can be trusted, the heavy-hitting Snake Venom from the Scottish brewery Brewmeister is now the world’s strongest. It seems that our friends in Europe really enjoy some healthy competition (and powerful ales), and several other breweries have been busily vying for the Strongest Beer title. Snake Venom just ousted the previous record-holder, London’s BrewDogs, whose End of History beer topped out at a mere 55% ABV. (End of History is still listed on the Guinness site as the record holder, but Snake Venom was just recognized this July.)

Oldest Continually Producing Brewery (not Guinness official)

Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey

I was surprised there is no Guinness World Record for the oldest brewery still in production. But that honor is not hard to discover: it goes to the Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey in Bavaria, Southern Germany. The brewery was built in 1040 AD, and still distributes its Weihenstephaner beer around the world.

Most Expensive Bottle of Beer Ever Sold (not Guinness official)

Hindenberg Beer

Hindenberg Beer

Lowenbrau Lager – $16,000

In 2013, an unopened bottle of Lowenbrau lager salvaged from the Hindenburg wreck in 1937 fetched an auction price of over $16,000.  (I couldn’t find the exact price, but I’m sure it was still out of my range.) The beer was supposedly one of a six-pack found by a fireman at the scene, who buried it and then recovered it later. The bottle has been auctioned several times—with a price increase each time, too. According to Andrew Aldridge, who originally auctioned the bottle in 2009, “You wouldn’t want to drink it – it is probably quite putrid to taste.”

Most Beer Bottles Opened with a Helicopter in Three Minutes (Guinness Official)

Four (though the internet turned up a few other contenders–particularly in China…)

By Jan Veen (Germany) on the set of “Wetten Dass???  Because helicopters!

Mendo Magnum

Mendo Magnum

World’s Largest Six Pack (not Guinness official)

Mendocino Brewing’s 42-pound 6-pack

Mendocino Brewing may have set a record themselves back in 1983 when they released the “World’s Largest Six-Pack,” made up of 6 magnums of Red Tail Ale. Being located in wine country, the 1.5 liter magnum bottles were easy to come by, though the beer was not sold outside the pub.

 What’s your record?

What’s your personal beer record? You don’t have to impress the world—just us. Give us an excuse for a toast in the comments below!

(To get us started, my personal record: Number of breweries visited in one day- six)


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