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The Ice Beer Cometh


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Karry Beatty



Welcome to the world of ice beer, where cold meets refreshing and beer aficionados can satisfy their cravings for a crisp, chilled drink. Ice beer is not just your ordinary beer; it’s a unique brewing technique that results in a stronger and smoother beverage.


When it comes to food travel, experiencing the local beer culture is an essential part of the journey. And while there are countless types of beer to taste around the globe, ice beer stands out for its distinct flavor and brewing process.


What sets ice beer apart from other varieties is its freezing method during production. This technique, along with the careful selection of ingredients, results in a brew that is both rich in taste and higher in alcohol content.


Ice beer has gained popularity among beer enthusiasts for its ability to deliver a clean and refreshing taste, perfect for quenching your thirst after a long day of exploring new destinations. Whether you’re enjoying a pint at a local pub or sipping it while taking in breathtaking views, ice beer is an experience worth indulging in on your food travel adventures.


In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of ice beer, exploring its origins, the brewing process, popular brands, myths, and misconceptions. So grab your favorite beer mug and prepare to embark on a journey of flavor, culture, and discovery.


What is Ice Beer?

Ice beer, also known as Eisbock or Ice Bock, is a type of beer that undergoes a unique freezing process during production. This process concentrates the flavors and increases the alcohol content, resulting in a stronger and more robust brew.


The term “ice beer” can be a bit misleading, as it doesn’t refer to the temperature at which the beer is served, but rather to the process by which it is made. Unlike regular beer, which is typically fermented and then bottled, ice beer undergoes an additional step that involves freezing the beer and removing the ice crystals that form.


During the freezing process, water freezes faster than alcohol, allowing brewers to remove a portion of the frozen water, leaving behind a more concentrated liquid. This results in a higher alcohol content, often ranging between 8% and 14%, depending on the style and brewing technique.


Ice beer is known for its smooth and clean taste, with flavors that are intensified due to the higher concentration of ingredients. It often exhibits a rich malt profile with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruits, making it a delightful choice for beer enthusiasts seeking a more complex and satisfying drinking experience.


It’s important to note that ice beer should not be confused with “ice lagers,” which are beer styles that are simply served at a colder temperature. Ice beer, on the other hand, undergoes a specific freezing process that sets it apart from other brews.


Now that we have a better understanding of what ice beer is, let’s explore the fascinating process behind its creation and the history that has shaped this distinctive beer style.


How is Ice Beer Made?

The making of ice beer involves a unique brewing process that sets it apart from other types of beer. While the exact techniques may vary among brewers, the general steps remain the same.


1. Brewing the Base Beer: The process starts with brewing a base beer, which can be any style of beer such as lager, ale, or stout. The base beer is made using traditional brewing methods, including mashing grains, boiling the wort, and fermenting with yeast. The goal is to create a flavorful and well-balanced beer as a foundation for the ice beer.


2. Freezing: After the base beer has completed fermentation, it is then frozen. The beer is placed in temperature-controlled environments, usually below freezing temperatures, until ice crystals start to form.


3. Concentration: As the beer freezes, the ice crystals that form are separated from the remaining liquid, which is more concentrated in flavor and alcohol content. This process of removing the ice crystals is known as fractional freezing or freeze distillation.


4. Filtering: Once the ice crystals have been removed, the concentrated liquid is filtered to remove any remaining impurities and ensure clarity. This step contributes to the smoothness and clean taste of the final ice beer.


5. Aging: After filtration, the beer is aged for a period of time, allowing the flavors to develop and meld together. This aging process adds depth and complexity to the beer, enhancing its overall character.


6. Carbonation: Before bottling or kegging, the ice beer is carbonated to create the desired level of effervescence. This can be achieved through natural carbonation or by injecting carbon dioxide into the beer.


7. Packaging: Once carbonated, the final ice beer is packaged and ready to be enjoyed by beer enthusiasts around the world. It can be found in various formats, including bottles, cans, or on tap.


It’s worth noting that the process of making ice beer requires precision and expertise to ensure the desired alcohol content and flavor profile. The freezing and concentration steps are crucial in creating a balanced and enjoyable ice beer.


Now that we understand how ice beer is made, let’s take a journey back in time to explore the history behind this unique brewing technique and how it has evolved over the years.


History of Ice Beer

The history of ice beer dates back several centuries, originating in Germany where it is known as Eisbock. The technique of freeze distillation was discovered by accident in the early 18th century when beer stored in wooden barrels froze during the cold winter months.


The first documented ice beer production dates back to the 19th century when a brewer in Kulmbach, Germany, accidentally discovered the process. He left a batch of bock beer outside during winter, and when he returned, he found that the liquid had separated into ice and concentrated beer. Intrigued by the result, he tasted the concentrated liquid and was amazed by its smoothness and flavor.


Word of this accidental discovery quickly spread, and brewers began experimenting with intentionally freezing their beer to create a more potent and flavorful brew. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ice beer had gained popularity not only in Germany but also in other European countries.


In the United States, ice beer emerged in the 1990s as a response to changing consumer preferences. Brewers sought to create a beer that had higher alcohol content and a more intense flavor profile. The American brewing industry embraced this trend, leading to the development of various ice beer brands and styles.


Over the years, ice beer has continued to evolve, with breweries experimenting with different brewing techniques and flavors. Some have added unique ingredients or aged the beer in barrels, resulting in even more complexity and depth.


Today, ice beer can be found worldwide, with each region putting its own spin on this distinctive brewing technique. Whether you’re sipping on an Eisbock in Germany, an Ice Bock in the United States, or a variant from another country, you’re experiencing a beer style that has a rich history and a continuing presence in the craft beer scene.


As the popularity of ice beer grows, so does the appreciation for its unique characteristics and the craft behind its production. Now that we’ve explored the history and brewing process of ice beer, let’s dive into some of the popular brands and flavors that you can discover on your food travel adventures.


Popular Brands of Ice Beer

Ice beer has gained a dedicated following over the years, with numerous breweries around the world producing their own versions of this unique beer style. Let’s explore some popular brands that offer delicious ice beers:


1. Samuel Adams Triple Bock: This iconic American brewery offers a bold and flavorful ice beer. Samuel Adams Triple Bock is known for its rich, malty sweetness, with notes of chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits. It has a high alcohol content, often exceeding 10%, making it a strong and indulgent choice for beer enthusiasts.


2. Troegenator Double Bock: Hailing from Pennsylvania, USA, Troegenator Double Bock is a popular ice beer that boasts a deep amber color and a complex flavor profile. It features a blend of caramel and toffee notes, with a slightly roasted character and a smooth finish.


3. Unibroue Éphémère Apple Ice Cider: This Canadian brewery incorporates apple ice cider into their ice beer, creating a unique and refreshing beverage. Unibroue Éphémère Apple Ice Cider combines the sweetness and tartness of apples with the smoothness of a well-crafted ice beer, resulting in a delightful and balanced flavor.


4. Kulmbacher Eisbock: Taking inspiration from its German roots, Kulmbacher Eisbock offers a traditional take on ice beer. This brew features a rich malt profile with hints of nuttiness and caramel. It has a smooth and velvety texture, with a warming alcohol presence that adds depth to the flavor.


5. Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Black Ice: This Canadian brewery takes an innovative approach to ice beer by incorporating dark malt into their recipe. Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Black Ice showcases a robust and full-bodied character, with flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a subtle bitterness that balances the sweetness.


These are just a few examples of the diverse range of ice beers available in the market. Craft breweries around the world continue to experiment with different ingredients and brewing techniques, offering beer enthusiasts an ever-expanding selection of flavors and styles to explore.


When embarking on your food travel adventures, be sure to seek out local breweries and taprooms to discover their take on ice beer. You might uncover hidden gems and unique interpretations that showcase the creativity and passion of local brewers.


Now that we’ve explored some popular brands of ice beer, let’s delve into why this particular beer style holds such appeal for beer enthusiasts and food travelers alike.


The Appeal of Ice Beer

Ice beer has a unique appeal that sets it apart from other beer styles. Let’s explore the reasons why this type of beer has captivated the hearts and palates of beer enthusiasts and food travelers:


1. Rich and Intense Flavor: Ice beer offers a depth of flavor that is often more pronounced and concentrated compared to regular beer. The freezing process concentrates the ingredients, resulting in a brew that exhibits complex malt profiles, with notes of caramel, toffee, and sometimes even hints of fruit or spice. This enhanced flavor experience adds a layer of richness and satisfaction to each sip.


2. Higher Alcohol Content: For those seeking a stronger beer, ice beer delivers. With alcohol contents typically ranging from 8% to 14%, ice beer offers a higher ABV (Alcohol By Volume) than standard brews. This is due to the concentration of ingredients during the freezing process. The elevated alcohol content adds a warming and soothing sensation, making it ideal for savoring on cool evenings or as a companion during a winter getaway.


3. Smooth and Clean Taste: Ice beer is often praised for its exceptionally smooth and clean taste. The freezing and filtration process help remove any impurities, leaving behind a pristine beer that goes down smoothly. The absence of harsh flavors or bitterness allows the drinker to fully enjoy the nuances of the beer’s flavor profile.


4. Refreshing and Quenching: Despite its higher alcohol content, ice beer maintains a refreshing quality. The crisp and chilled nature of the beverage makes it an excellent choice for quenching your thirst, especially on hot summer days or after engaging in outdoor activities. The clean and refreshing taste of ice beer provides a revitalizing experience that can be enjoyed in a variety of settings.


5. Unique Brewing Technique: The process of making ice beer is fascinating in itself. The freezing and concentration steps involve precision and skill to achieve the desired characteristics. The craftsmanship and expertise that go into producing ice beer add to its allure, making it an intriguing choice for beer enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry behind the brew.


With its rich flavor, higher alcohol content, smooth taste, and unique brewing technique, ice beer offers an enticing combination for those seeking an unforgettable beer-drinking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned beer connoisseur or an adventurous food traveler, exploring ice beer can open up a new world of flavors and sensations.


Now that we appreciate the appeal of ice beer, let’s dive into the brewing process and explore the key differences between ice beer and regular beer.


The Brewing Process of Ice Beer

The brewing process of ice beer is unique and requires careful attention to detail. Let’s explore the key steps involved in creating this refreshing and robust beverage:


1. Base Beer Production: The process begins with brewing a base beer using traditional methods. Brewers can choose various styles, such as lagers, ales, or stouts, to serve as the foundation for their ice beer. This involves mashing grains, boiling the wort, and fermenting it with specific yeast strains to create the desired flavors and characteristics.


2. Selecting the Right Ingredients: Brewers carefully select ingredients to ensure the desired flavor profile of the ice beer. Malted barley, hops, and water are the primary components, but additional ingredients such as specialty malts or adjuncts may be added to enhance the complexity of the brew.


3. Fermentation: After the wort is prepared, it is transferred to fermentation vessels, where yeast is added. The yeast converts the sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide, leading to the formation of alcohol and the development of flavors and aromas during the fermentation process.


4. Freezing: Once the base beer has completed fermentation, it is subjected to a freezing process. The beer is transferred to temperature-controlled environments, where it is cooled to temperatures below freezing. As the beer freezes, ice crystals form, separating from the liquid portion.


5. Concentration: The ice crystals are then carefully removed to separate them from the concentrated liquid. Brewers aim to discard the ice while retaining the concentrated beer, which contains a higher alcohol content and intensified flavors. This process can be repeated multiple times to achieve the desired concentration.


6. Filtering: To ensure clarity and remove any impurities, the concentrated liquid is filtered. This step contributes to the smooth and clean taste of the final ice beer. Filtration also helps to remove any remaining ice particles or sediments, resulting in a visually appealing beverage.


7. Carbonation: Before packaging, ice beer is carbonated to achieve the desired level of effervescence. This can be done through the natural carbonation process, where the residual yeast in the beer produces carbon dioxide, or by injecting carbon dioxide directly into the liquid.


8. Packaging and Aging: Once carbonated, the ice beer is packaged in bottles, cans, or kegs. Some ice beers undergo additional aging to allow flavors to develop further and create a smoother drinking experience. The aging process can take place in stainless steel tanks or even oak barrels, adding complexity and depth to the beer’s character.


Each step in the brewing process of ice beer requires precision and expertise to achieve the desired flavor, concentration, and overall quality. The result is a refreshing and robust beer that showcases the craftsmanship and attention to detail put into its creation.


Now that we understand the brewing process, let’s explore the key differences between ice beer and regular beer.


Differences Between Ice Beer and Regular Beer

Ice beer and regular beer may seem similar at first glance, but there are noticeable differences that set them apart in terms of flavor, strength, and brewing technique. Let’s explore the key distinctions between the two:


1. Brewing Process: The main difference lies in the brewing process. Regular beer undergoes fermentation and is typically bottled or kegged without any additional steps. Ice beer, on the other hand, involves a freezing process where the beer is intentionally frozen and the ice crystals are removed to concentrate the flavors and increase the alcohol content.


2. Alcohol Content: Ice beer generally has a higher alcohol content compared to regular beer. While regular beer usually ranges from 4% to 7% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), ice beer can have an ABV ranging from 8% to 14% or even higher. The concentration of alcohol in ice beer is a result of the freezing process, which removes water and concentrates the remaining liquid.


3. Intensity of Flavors: Ice beer tends to have a more intense flavor profile compared to regular beer. The freezing process concentrates the flavors of the ingredients, resulting in a bolder and richer taste. Ice beers often exhibit complex malt profiles, with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruits, offering a robust and satisfying drinking experience.


4. Smoothness and Clean Taste: Due to the filtration process involved in making ice beer, it typically has a smoother and cleaner taste compared to regular beer. The removal of impurities and ice crystals allows for a refined and enjoyable drinking experience, with a crisp and refreshing character.


5. Serving Temperature: Ice beer is usually best served chilled, similar to regular beer. However, because of its higher alcohol content and concentrated flavors, it may benefit from slightly warmer serving temperatures to allow the flavors to fully develop and be appreciated. Regular beer, on the other hand, is commonly served cold to enhance its refreshing qualities.


6. Drinking Experience: The higher alcohol content and intensified flavors of ice beer make it a sipping and savoring beverage. It is often enjoyed in smaller quantities, allowing the drinker to appreciate the complexity and depth of the flavors. Regular beer, on the other hand, is often consumed in larger quantities and enjoyed more casually.


It’s important to note that personal preferences play a significant role in determining which type of beer a person enjoys. Some individuals may prefer the lighter and more sessionable nature of regular beer, while others may appreciate the robustness and higher alcohol content of ice beer.


Now that we understand the differences between ice beer and regular beer, let’s explore the best practices for serving and enjoying a satisfying glass of ice beer.


Serving and Enjoying Ice Beer

When it comes to serving and enjoying ice beer, there are a few considerations to ensure you fully experience its flavors and appreciate its unique qualities. Here are some tips for serving and enjoying ice beer:


1. Temperature: While regular beer is commonly served cold, ice beer benefits from being served slightly warmer to allow its flavors to fully develop. Aim to serve ice beer at a temperature of around 45-55°F (7-13°C). This range allows the flavors to be more pronounced, enhancing your overall enjoyment of the beer.


2. Glassware: Choosing the right glassware can enhance your ice beer drinking experience. Opt for a tulip or snifter glass to concentrate the aromas and capture the nuances in the beer. These glasses also allow you to appreciate the color and head formation of the beer, adding to the visual appeal.


3. Savoring: Ice beer is known for its intensified flavors and higher alcohol content. Take the time to savor each sip, allowing the complex malt and hop profiles to unfold on your palate. Take note of the different flavor notes, such as caramel, toffee, or dark fruits, and appreciate the smoothness and balance of the beer.


4. Pairing: Just like regular beer, ice beer can be paired with a variety of dishes to enhance your food travel experience. Its rich flavors and robust character make it a great companion for hearty dishes, such as barbecued meats, braised dishes, or aged cheeses. Experiment with pairing ice beer with different cuisines to discover delightful combinations.


5. Enjoy Responsibly: Remember that ice beer typically has a higher alcohol content than regular beer. Drink responsibly and be mindful of the alcohol content when enjoying ice beer. It’s meant to be savored and appreciated in moderation.


Whether you’re enjoying ice beer on its own or pairing it with a delicious meal, taking the time to savor its flavors and appreciate the craftsmanship behind its creation will enhance your overall enjoyment of this unique beer style.


Now that we’ve explored the best practices for serving and enjoying ice beer, let’s address some common myths and misconceptions surrounding this fascinating brew.


Ice Beer Myths and Misconceptions

Like any popular beverage, ice beer has its fair share of myths and misconceptions. Let’s debunk some common misunderstandings to shed light on the truth behind ice beer:


1. Myth: Ice Beer is Frozen and Served on Ice


Fact: While the term “ice beer” may imply that it is served on ice or frozen, this is not the case. The freezing process in ice beer production refers to the brewing technique, where water is separated from the concentrated liquid to increase flavor and alcohol content. Ice beer is typically served at a chilled temperature, but not with ice cubes in the glass.


2. Myth: Ice Beer is Regular Beer with Ice Added


Fact: Ice beer and regular beer differ in their brewing processes. Ice beer is made through a specific freezing and concentration technique, while regular beer does not undergo this additional step. The freezing process in ice beer production involves removing frozen water (ice crystals) to create a more robust and concentrated beer.


3. Myth: Ice Beer is Higher in Calories


Fact: Ice beer and regular beer typically have similar calorie contents. The higher alcohol content in ice beer may give the perception of being higher in calories, but the calories come from alcohol, not additional additives or ingredients.


4. Myth: Ice Beer is a Light and Watery Beer


Fact: Ice beer is not synonymous with light or watery beer. In fact, ice beer is known for its intensified flavors and higher alcohol content. It often exhibits complex malt profiles and can have a rich and robust character.


5. Myth: All Ice Beers Taste the Same


Fact: Ice beers come in various styles and flavors, just like regular beers. Different breweries may use different brewing techniques, ingredients, and aging processes, resulting in a wide range of flavors and characteristics. Some ice beers may lean towards malty, caramel flavors, while others may showcase hop-driven profiles.


It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to ice beer to truly appreciate its distinct qualities. Like any other beer style, ice beer offers unique flavors and experiences that can vary across different brands and breweries.


Now that we have dispelled some common misconceptions, let’s take a look at what the future holds for ice beer.


The Future of Ice Beer

The future of ice beer looks promising as craft breweries continue to push boundaries and experiment with unique brewing techniques. Here are some trends and developments that may shape the future of ice beer:


1. Innovation in Brewing Techniques: As the craft beer industry evolves, we can expect to see further innovations in ice beer brewing techniques. Brewers may explore new freezing methods or incorporate different ingredients to create even more diverse and exciting flavors. This ongoing experimentation will undoubtedly push the boundaries of what ice beer can be.


2. Collaboration and Fusion: Collaborations between breweries have become increasingly common in the craft beer scene. In the future, we may see more collaborations specifically focused on ice beer. Breweries might come together to create unique and limited-edition ice beers that showcase a fusion of their brewing styles, resulting in exceptional and one-of-a-kind offerings.


3. Barrel-Aged Ice Beers: Barrel-aged beers have gained popularity in recent years, and ice beers are no exception. Aging ice beers in barrels, such as bourbon or whiskey barrels, can impart additional flavors and complexities to the brew. The woody and boozy notes from the barrels can mingle with the concentrated flavors of the ice beer, creating a truly exceptional drinking experience.


4. Localization and Terroir: Just like the farm-to-table movement, beer drinkers are increasingly interested in the provenance of their beverages. We may see a rise in ice beers that showcase local ingredients, such as unique malt varieties or locally sourced fruits, reflecting the terroir of the region. This localization trend will further highlight the connection between ice beer and the local food and drink culture.


5. Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices: With the growing focus on sustainability in the beverage industry, breweries may adopt more eco-friendly practices in ice beer production. This could include sourcing ingredients from sustainable farms, implementing energy-efficient brewing processes, and reducing waste. By prioritizing sustainability, ice beer can not only provide a delightful drinking experience but also contribute to a more environmentally conscious future.


The future holds exciting possibilities for ice beer, as brewers continue to explore new techniques, flavors, and collaborations. As craft beer enthusiasts and food travelers, we have much to look forward to in terms of experiencing the inventive and evolving world of ice beer.


With our journey through the world of ice beer coming to an end, let’s conclude our exploration and celebrate the joy and diversity that this unique beer style brings to the world of food travel.



Ice beer, with its unique brewing process and distinct flavor profile, has carved its place in the world of beer and food travel. From its origins in Germany to its global popularity today, ice beer offers a refreshing and robust experience for beer enthusiasts around the world. The process of freezing and concentrating the beer results in a higher alcohol content and intensified flavors, creating a beverage that is both satisfying and enjoyable to savor.


As we have discovered, ice beer is not simply beer served on ice, nor is it a light and watery brew. It is a style of beer that demands craftsmanship and precision. From selecting the right ingredients to carefully freezing and filtering the beer, each step of the brewing process contributes to the smoothness, complexity, and character of ice beer.


Popular brands like Samuel Adams, Troegenator, and Kulmbacher have crafted delicious ice beers, showcasing the diversity of flavors and styles within this category. And as craft breweries continue to push boundaries and innovate, we can expect to see even more creative interpretations of ice beer in the future.


Serving and enjoying ice beer requires thoughtful consideration. The right temperature, glassware, and the act of savoring each sip enhance the drinking experience. Ice beer pairs well with hearty dishes, bringing out the complexities in flavors and adding depth to food travel experiences around the world.


While myths and misconceptions may surround ice beer, it is important to separate fact from fiction. Understanding the process and unique qualities of ice beer allows us to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry behind its creation.


As we look to the future, we can anticipate further innovation, collaboration, and sustainability in the world of ice beer. Barrel-aged varieties, localized ingredients, and eco-friendly practices will shape the evolution of this beloved beer style, ensuring its continued relevance and enticing beer lovers and food travelers alike.


So, let’s raise our glasses and celebrate the joy and diversity that ice beer brings to the world of food travel. Cheers to the crisp, refreshing, and robust experience that awaits us in every sip of ice beer!