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What is a High Gravity Beer

High-gravity beer is an intense, full-bodied, and full-flavored beer that has a higher-than-average alcohol content.

It’s typically brewed with more fermentable sugars, more hops, and higher alcohol yeasts to create a stronger beverage.

For beer enthusiasts, high-gravity beer has become a popular choice since it provides a wider range of flavor options and offers more booze in one single serving.

What is a High Gravity Beer?

High-gravity beers are essentially just beers that have a higher-than-normal ABV (alcohol by volume). The human tongue can only detect about seven percent alcohol, so for many craft beers, this means an increased ABV of 8 percent or higher.

That might not sound like much of a difference, but it’s enough to give the beer a fuller body and an intense flavor profile.

What is Gravity Brewing?

Gravity brewing is an age-old method of brewing beer that relies on the natural effects of gravity and fermentation to create different flavors and styles of beer. In this process, brewers measure the amount of sugar in the wort (the liquid mixture of water, yeast and malt) before fermentation begins.

This measurement gives brewers the ability to craft beers with different levels of sweetness depending on their desired alcohol content. By measuring the specific amount of sugar during the brewing process, brewers can increase or decrease the alcohol content in their final product.

How to Measure the Gravity of a Beer?

The specific gravity (SG) or density measurement is used to gauge how much sugar is present in beer wort before fermentation takes place.

SG measurements are made by combining dextrose powder with water to create a standard “sugar solution” that can be compared to other samples tested for their sugar content level. The method for measuring SG includes:

  • Fill the hydrometer sample tube with 10 milliliters (ml) or less of your wort sample
  • Insert your hydrometer into your sample tube filled with your sample liquid
  • Take note and record measurements from both top and bottom markers on your hydrometer chart
  • Calculate specific gravity readings based on both top and bottom markers

High-gravity beers typically have an SG reading above 1.070 – 1.130 which translates into 8% – 19% ABV depending on how much fermentation takes place during brewing.

Common Ingredients of High Gravity Beer

In order to achieve high gravity beers, brewers need to use ingredients such as additional malt extract, hops pellets/flakes/cones/etc., grains that are high in unfermentable sugars like wheat or oats, higher alcohol yeasts such as Brettanomyces bruxellensis, lager yeast strains such as Wyeast 2112 California lager strain.

All these ingredients play important roles when trying to make stronger beers since they help contribute towards achieving richer flavors as well as higher ABVs than what would normally be achieved through traditional brewing methods alone using just malts & hops only.

In some cases, brewers also use adjuncts like honey & molasses for added sweetness & complexity in flavors that would otherwise not be achievable without them being included in the recipe formulation beforehand.

Risks Associated With High Gravity Beer

High-gravity beers should be approached with caution due to their high level of alcohol content per serving – especially for those who plan on drinking multiple servings throughout their session.. Some risks associated with drinking too much high-gravity beer include:

  • Dehydration – Higher levels of alcohol mean an increased risk for dehydration since it can interfere with electrolyte balance & fluid retention in our bodies causing us to become easily endangered & lethargic if we do not rehydrate regularly during our session.
  • Alcohol Poisoning – Drinking too much high-gravity beer over short periods of time can lead to increased amount intoxication levels leading to potential instances where we may become excessively drunk & prone to food poisoning due to its strong alcoholic effects upon our bodies. Therefore caution should be taken when consuming these types of beverages.
  • Alcohol Abuse – Prolonged heavy drinking habits can lead to eventual abuse where individuals become dependent upon alcoholic beverages as a means of coping with their daily stresses & problems – thereby leading towards possible addiction if precautionary measures are not taken beforehand.

Popular Types Of High Gravity Beers

Some popular types high gravity beers include:

  • Imperial IPAs – These strong ales typically contain around 8% – 10+ % ABV along with very robust hop aromas & flavors coming from addition various hop varieties like Simcoe Citra
  • Triple India Pale Ales– These are American-style IPAs that use large amounts of hops giving them complex fruity flavors while increasing their ABV percentages up 9%-12+%.
  • Barleywine – These barley-based ales contain malted barley as well as additional specialty grains resulting in sweeter tasting brews that also boast ABV levels ranging from11%-15+ % when fermented properly…
  • Imperial Stouts– These dark brews have been around for centuries but have recently gained popularity due to their chocolatey coffee-like taste accompanied by much higher ABVs reaching sometimes 18%-20+%.


High Gravity beers are definitely worth seeking out tasting because they offer unique complexities unlike traditional lower percentage brews could ever achieve without taking components up a notch.

Whether it’s imperial IPAs Tripel India Pale Ales Barleywine Stouts you’ll certainly enjoy all the bold flavors accompanying these brews regardless of how strong they might get.

Just be sure to approach these potent beverages with caution given the safety issues and risks of overindulging themselves! Cheers!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

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