Ice Ice Baby

Posted on 02.17.10 9:34PM under Alcohol, Fun, News

Once again Brew Dog has done it. They’ve gone and raised the ire of all wings of the beer and political communities. Not complacent to be second best, it’s time to make the world’s strongest beer… again!

First off, Sam Adams Utopias is the strongest beer, when it comes down to it. By American legal definition, a beer can not be fortified by any method, including “ice distillation”. Sam Adams is cooked as normal wort and fermented as such by yeast all the way to its nearly unnatural 27% ABV. All others higher than that, to my knowledge, are done by ice distilling.

Ice distillation takes advantage of the fact that alcohol freezes at a lower temperature than water. By freezing beer, the alcohol portion will tend to stay unfrozen, or at least will thaw first. This gives an opportunity to remove water from the mix by draining the liquid portion of the beer from the frozen part. The runoff is concentrated beer and the result is a higher alcohol by volume beverage.

This is the method that those zany Scots used to make Tactical Nuclear Penguin a 32% ABV Stout. This is the method that some remarkably anonymous Germans used to make some 40% ABV thing. And this is again the same method that the Brew Dogs used for their 41% IPA “Sink the Bismarck”.

Most seem to view this as senselessly inane, and the “chef with the saltiest soup” analogy keeps coming up. The difference is that you don’t just sprinkle alcohol into the beer. There is no “alcohol shaker” that you can work your wrist lame adding more and more alcohol to the beer in the brite tank. You still have to work to get more alcohol content into the final product. You have to sacrifice something, in this case a tremendous amount of beer volume. The saltiest soup thing holds up well against the idea of the hoppiest beer, but not quite here.

My favorite offended response was one where the writer was upset about Brew Dog’s use of a tragedy where many people died, just for their own shameless self promotion. Ever heard of James Cameron?

The thing is, I like the shameless self promotion aspect of these stunts. This is the sort of thing that craft beer needs. Shameless self promotion is what the big brewers practice, and it is a big part of their big market share. Face it, you can’t make a “whassssup” line of commercials without a heavy dose of hubris.

My response to all of this is to take my own 7% ABV porter and transform it into the newest strongest beer in the world. All I have to do is reduce its volume by about 83% and I’ll increase its alcohol by volume sixfold. That will leave me with a 42% ABV “beer” on my hands, and allow me to seat myself at the head of this table of strength.

Tonight I’m taking one 16-ounce plastic beer bottle, and drawing 12 ounces of the porter off the keg. I’ll leave it out overnight to de-carbonate and put it in the freezer tomorrow. If I let it freeze while carbonated, all the CO2 would violently come out of solution while freezing, which would be messy, and possibly spill some potential alcohol.

Then I will run off the concentrated beer after a few days, and refreeze and runoff as many times as necessary until I end up with a mere 2 ounces of liquid. As long as I am sure to leave nothing but clear ice behind, I’ll know that I got all the alcohol out of there, and I’ll end up with my world’s strongest beer.

Very limited supply, served in one-ounce pours.

Excuse me, I have to go prepare my championship belt.

Image of Vanilla Ice, thanks to Wikipedia.

BrewDog Logo, thanks to

Titanic image, thanks to Denison University.

Championship belt, thanks to Elfsar.

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