Now Here's a Real Ice Beer

Friday, November 02, 2007

Forget Icehouse, Molson Ice, Miller Ice and whatever other kind of ice beer exists in the mass market segment. Leave it to the Germans to have created, over 100 years ago, a real ice beer.

It's called an eisbock.

Imagine this: an enterprising bar owner stored his kegs outdoors in the winter. Makes sense. Natural refrigeration. One day, after an especially vicious-cold night, he went to tap a keg of doppelbock. There was a problem: it was frozen. He decided to tap it closer to the bottom and found that there was a lovely, highly-concentrated bock left on the bottom, apart from all the other stuff that froze. He called it eisbock, and it sold like mad.

Today's selection is considered the original: Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock.

Aventinus pours a hazy brown with amber highlights. It is completely opaque, due to the hazy wheat and suspended yeast, much like a hefe weizen. It gave a nice, fluffy off-white head, but the 12% ABV of this beer killed it pretty qui8ck. What was left was a lovely off-white ring down the glass.

Right up font I got some clovey-phenolic smells (again, much like a hefe weizen...appropriate given that this is a weizen itself and has lots of...weizen in it), with a bit of banana. I also got some deep fruits like prune, nice and sweet and dark. No hops here, just wheaty malts.

Pow. Right away is a sweet malt attack. Not cloying in the least, just big, concentrated malt. Doppelbock on crack. Or ice. Whatever. Full, thick, syrupy with honey, coffee,chocolate and dark dried fruits. Brown sugar and caramel too. Clove flavors surface towards the end, and you can taste a bit of the wheat and its grain-husk tannins. For such a massive ABV, this beer hides the alcohol very well under all that malt, but there is a definitive alcohol warmth. Again, this is a doppelbock extreme-style; all those flavors turned way up. It's the differenec between listening to, say, old Metallica (the good stuff, you know, before they decided to become sober...and bitch-like), and old Metallica REALLY LOUD. I could see drinking this when it's wicked-cold outside and being juuuust fine.

This beer is so smooth on the palate, almost creamy. The harsh alcohol bite for such a high ABV is deceivingly absent, but there is a distinct warming effect. You can enjoy this beer as a sipper; definitely not a "session" beer but perfect in and of itself for a bottle or two. It goes down so smooth and creamy.

Enjoy a bottle on a cold night, maybe with some dark chocolate dessert that can hang with the sweetness of the beer. Or, just make this your dessert.

Maybe I'll try to make one during my next Brewing Extravaganza.

8 comments:

B Mac 12:37 PM  

That sounds like a pretty intimidating beer.

I'm curious how such a beer is brewed these days. Do they still just brew a batch of bock (say that three times fast) and store it at a low enough temp to freeze up some of the water (leaving only the beer goodness as liquid)? Or is there a refined modern technique that involves removing ice during/after the fermentation but before bottling?

As far as Metallica is concerned, I'm not sure when they went bitch. Probably around the time they started suing their fans for copywrite infringement. They're still sticking it to The Establishment, as long as you consider a 14-year-old on Limewire as part of "the Establishment". Exit Sandman.

Brewing Extravaganza (we're up to #2 on the list...)

Smitty 12:51 PM  

b_mac:

Your latter description is correct of the brewing process for eisbock, or, dare I call it, the Brewing Extravaganza for eisbock. Eisbock is a lager, so it already ferments and stores at near-freezing. It is not a huge stretch to actually then freeze it and remove the ice as you go to theave the concentrated beery goodness.

Colin 4:00 PM  

Have you had Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock? That was some AWESOME stuff! Only Eisbock I've had the luxury of trying.

Aventinus is one of my all-time favs (although I like the Ayinger Ur-Weisse better...) so I'll have to get me some of the Weizen-Eisbock (to drink during my next Brewing Extravaganza )! Where did you pick this up Smitty?

I snagged a 4-pack of the Sam Adams Halertau Imperial Pils yesterday, gonna try one of them tonight!!

steve s,  4:18 PM  

Sounds interesting, but I just don't know. I would definitely have to try before I would buy.

As for Metallica, I have some friends that are musicians, so I am not all that sorry for people that get stuck to when they are caught, so that 14 year old can pay for music, just like I did when I was 14.

Metal bands don't seem to age all that well. Some 50 year old in leather just doesn't come across as all that badass. The only exception is Lemmy, from Motorhead. That guy is still as nasty as ever.

B Mac 6:03 PM  

Agreed about the aging process for rockers. The irony of the rock musician is that either they die young, or they NEVER die. You're either Jim Morrison or you're Keith Richards. There is very little middle ground.

And I agree about the shadyness of Napster-era music sharing. But you imagine that being a battle between fans and corporate-types, not between fans and musicians. I imagine they lost a lot of public support for what they did.

Smitty 10:50 PM  

Colin:

I too just picked up the Sammy A Imperial Pils...it is waiting for Sunday as I crack it to cap-off a very busy but ultimately very successful week. I can't wait.

I picked up the Aventinus at Oades. I only saw a few left when I was there yesterday afternoon...as in a few bottles, not a few 6-ers. Hurry.

Steves-

Lemmy rules. But not as much as a Brewing Extravaganza.

Smitty 10:52 PM  

Dammit. We're still only #2 on the list. Get cracking, people. Let's give Brewing Extravaganza the attention it deserves!!

steves 12:15 PM  

"Lemmy rules. But not as much as a Brewing Extravaganza."

They are pretty close. How about a Brewing Extravaganza with Motorhead providing the entertainment?

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