How did it go so wrong? When did brewing, an ancient and noble art, become the ugly end to a once entertaining frat party? It is now difficult to read the popular media without concluding that the cutting edge of craft brewing consists of releasing a beer that’s slightly more alcoholic than the last recently released highly alcoholic beer.

BrewDog, the Scottish publicity hound who recently unveiled a 55 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) beer called “The End of History” in bottles made from taxidermied animals, bears the brunt of the blame. Its Tactical Nuclear Penguin (a mere 32 percent ABV) captured headlines the world round, and the squirrel-poured End of History took things to next level.

Now taking the lead in this footrace to idiocy: a Dutch brewery called ‘t Koelschip (“The Refrigerated Ship”), which is hawking 60 percent ABV beer called “Start the Future.” Via the Reuters story about the ABV arms race:

“[Brewer Jan] Nijboer told [Dutch news agency] ANP he developed the new brew to keep up with Scottish outfits that were also pushing the boundaries of beer’s alcohol content. His previous record-holder, a beer called Oblix that was 90 proof (45 per cent alcohol by volume), was eclipsed by a Scottish beer [“The End of History”] that reached 55 per cent.”

Please, please, please: Someone take a bottle of pure ethanol, drag a gram of hops and malted barley through it, call it beer, and end this thing. “Hey, look! It’s 99.99 percent ABV! Duh haw! I win!”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a glass of Samuel Adams Utopias. At a mere 27 percent ABV, it’s perfectly sane. Well, mostly sane. Comparatively.

See more articles