Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Have You Ever Wanted Your Beer to Have a Bit More Kick?

Has the polar vortex been keeping you inside? Have you been wishing for a day over 32 degrees Fahrenheit? Well maybe you just need to start  using the cold to your advantage.

Eisbocks, or ice beers, are beers that have been frozen and then thawed to make them more alcoholic than normal beer. The alcohol thaws fastest, so that is collected and the watery slush is left behind. This makes your beer super fortified. If the name didn't give it away the Germans started this practice back in the 1800's. Its something we continue today, i.e. Keystone Ice, etc. Normally this is done sometime after the fermentation process. Breweries like Brew Dog and Brewmeister in Scotland have used this process to create beers that have higher ABV than a lot of liquors. The current record holder is Sanke Venom at 67.5% alcohol.

I decided I wanted to make my own. A friend, skjellyfetti on IG, did just that, so I followed his lead.

To turn a solid craft beer into a beer liquor bomb of epic ABV, you just set it outside to freeze. It helps when the weather outside is a negative bazillion degrees (-10 most of the day I did it thanks to the snowpocolypse). Once the beer freezes, you bring it somewhere with a standard temperature and let it thaw through a funnel or something else that allows the beer to stand upright and keeps the larger chunks of ice from falling into your glass. The alcoholic part of the beer thaws fastest because it freezes at a lower temperature than water.

Let this thaw until you're left with fairly clear ice in your bottle. Then, what you have left should be a huge alcohol version of whatever you were drinking originally. Note: we haven't added any alcohol or fermented anything extra, all we've done is cut out the watery part of your beer. The part that we separated just gives us more alcohol per sip, providing something between a wine and a liquor with a ton of flavor.


I took a Bell's Oracle and a Founders Breakfast Stout and put them out in the Polar Vortex.

The Oracle: I left the Oracle outside for about three hours and it froze pretty solid. I looked for ice in the body of the beer not just the neck. You can see the filtration (above) of the Oracle. We were left with the liquid in the glass and the ice crystals in the bottle. As you can see it was about fifty fifty ice to booze liquid that we've extracted. The extracted beer was basically a hop syrup, almost sticky sweet and tons of hop bitterness.


Breakfast Stout: The Breakfast Stout took about four hours and I ended up wrapping a wet paper towel around it, as this helps facilitate the formation of ice crystals according to my scientist friend Parker. When I filtered this out, I got a deep dark chocolaty syrup. It was thick, way thicker than the DIPA. I think this is because the Breakfast Stout was a lower ABV so when we iced it, we got more booze but also more of the sticky sugary elements of the beer. This stuff was good! Wow, I wish I had ice cream to put it over because it was syrupy, sweet and very tasty with a ton of booze.

Now cheer up, this cold isn't all bad!

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