Eisbock: A journey

29 Mar

Last year we decided to try a couple of big beers as a group because, why not? So we embarked on a barrel aged Barleywine project, a Belgian Quad project, and the grand-daddy of them all, an Eisbock. If you don’t know what an Eisbock is, you probably also don’t know that Gummi Bears should really be pronounced more like “goomi bars” and you should probably go back to drinking your PBR out of your paper bag. OK, just kidding, I’m forgetting the second rule of the CDBC (“Don’t be a d*ck”), and only Germans call them goomi bars. An Eisbock is a super-concentrated, freeze distilled version of a Doppelbock (sometimes people use a Weizenbock as a base) that is super malty and super alcoholic. You can read more about Eisbocks from the Germans themselves (and more about the origins of Gummi bears too, if you insist).

Last December we brewed 20 gallons of Doppelbock (See recipe post here), and then lagered it until March at 37 degrees. Although we brewed the two ~11 gallon batches on the same day, and both hit 1.080 OG, for some reason (two different brew systems?), we got very different attenuation on the systems, and one batch finished at 1.016 (8.6% ABV), while the other barely cracked 1.030 FG (6.9% ABV). So, we decided after lagering to blend the two beers into four new corny kegs for the ice distilling process, making a new Doppelbock with a blended ABV estimated at 7.9%.

After doing this on 3/23, we were ready to freeze distill.

I found an awesome guide for how to do this here, at Lug Wrench Brewing. It was exactly what I needed to help me figure out the process.

We lowered the temp controller target in the chest freezer to 0 (although with the high wood collar it could only manager around 13 F), and let the beer sit overnight. Sure enough, in the morning, we had a beer slushy in the kegs. Two pics are attached (we had four kegs, and one froze a little less than the others.

Following the instructions I got online, I pushed the beer from the slushy kegs using CO2 into a clean and sanitized keg, one at a time. This worked pretty well, although once I had to knock the keg to sake ice off of the dip tube. Other than that, it was pretty smooth sailing.

In all, I extracted a total of around 3.5 gallons of ice from the beer, about a half gallon from the least slushy keg and about a gallon from the others.

Now, there’s a bunch of assumptions here, but I think if it’s pure ice (it’s probably not), and if we started with around 4.5 gallons per keg (we probably didn’t), we probably have 1 keg that’s at around 8.89% ABV, and three other kegs that are at around 10.15% ABV.

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One Response to “Eisbock: A journey”

  1. Justin Gerardy March 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    This is awesome. I look forward to hearing about you future brews. I’ve always wanted to start eising things arbitrarily.

    Justin Gerardy Standard Brewing standardbrew.com justin@standardbrew.com (206)228-9797

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