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We Road-Tested One Of The World’s Strongest Beers

We Road-Tested One Of The World’s Strongest Beers


In the small city of Heidelberg, an hour south of Frankfurt by train, those crafty Germans have posed an irresistible dare on a rather small and unobtrusive sign. “Strongest beer in the world!” the sign proclaims, and what beer-guzzling Aussie wouldn’t rise to the challenge?

The thing is, that bold claim’s not quite true anymore. The Vetter 33 – so named for its astonishingly high 33 per cent alcohol content – once made the Guinness Book of Records, though its since been trumped by a stomach-scouring 68 per cent Scottish beer.

Still, the wooden tables outside Brauhaus Vetter on Steingasse Street, whereVetter 33 is brewed, looked pretty enticing. Challenge accepted.

What Will It Set You Back?


Vetter 33 isn’t exactly cheap, costing $6.80 (€4.30) for a measly 210ml. That’s smaller than a pot or a middy or a schooner or whatever the hell your state calls a small glass of beer.


Would We Recommend It To Anyone Else?

Vetter 33 is the inky brown colour and slightly syrupy consistency of cola. And it’s sweet, very sweet, but not really in a good way.

My face puckered after each tiny sip, though the task did get easier as I began to feel slightly sloshed. So, if you’d like to see your friends’ faces contort into weird shapes, recommend away.

Would A Right-Minded Person Try Vetter 33 Again?


In a word: no.

But I got lucky. The Brauhaus was busy that day and a local couple, Heike Biedermann and Andreas Enseling, asked to share my table. They’d never tried Vetter 33, so I offered a sip. Heike’s face instantly folded into a grimace.

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“That’s awful,” she declared, before pouring my brew down a drain and metering some of her – thankfully delicious – Helles Pilsner into my glass.

The Helles is also made at Brauhaus Vetter and you can grab a half stein (half a litre) for $6.20 (€3.90) or a full stein (an entire litre) for $4.75 (€3). No, that maths doesn’t make sense. But yes, this is a beer that you can and should go back to.

How To Get There

  • Fly into Frankfurt Airport
  • Take the ICE 517 München Hbf to Mannheim Hauptbahnhof
  • At Mannheim Hauptbahnhof, take the Karlsruhe Hbf service to Heidelberg Central Station (3 stops)
  • Walk 200m (about 2 minutes) via Willy-Brandt-Platz
  • At HD Hauptbahnhof, take the 32 Universitätsplatz service to Marstallstr (7 stops)
  • Walk 400m (about 4 minutes) via Marstallstraße
  • Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus, Steingasse 9, 69117 Heidelberg
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Koren Helbig travelled as a guest of Rail Europe and the German National Tourist Office.

(Lead image: Sara / Flickr)

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