A new breed of “extreme beers” — full-bodied bitters with up to 12 percent alcohol and names like Punk IPA and Speed Ball — are raising concerns with U.K. health officials already grappling with huge societal drinking problems, the Independent reported March 28.
“In the U.S. over the past five years there has been an explosion of craft brewing,” said Adam Witherington, an editor at The Publican newspaper. “Brewers have looked at the way beer is put together and thought, ’How can we do this bigger and crazier?’ They’re saying, ’Why don’t we triple the hops?’ Extreme is not so much about [alcohol content], it’s about taste and it’s about pushing it beyond what beer drinkers are used to.”
Some beer lovers praise the hoppy new brews created by entrepreneurs targeting young drinkers, but even the industry’s Portman Group has criticized the Aberdeen, Scotland based BrewDog brewery for naming Speed Ball after the heroin-cocaine mix that famously killed comedian John Belushi.
Preventionists are concerned that drinkers don’t realize that a single bottle of one of these strong beers contains more alcohol than Britain’s daily intake guidelines. “The marketing reminds me very much of alcopops,” said Don Shenker, CEO of the group Alcohol Concern. “It looks to me like they’re going for the 18- to 25-year-old category. They should make prospective customers aware that it’s a different type of beer by putting the alcohol units on the label. At 10 percent, a 330ml bottle would be four units — the recommended daily amount for a man.”