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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Bourbon style Ice Beer at 30-40% ABV
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:11 AM   #1
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Default Bourbon style Eise Beer at 40% ABV

Revision: When done reading this, go to post #107 for an update. A link is posted at the bottom of this post.

Iced Beer is not a new style, but it is to me. I've just dived into this idea of freezing out the water and concentrating the alcohol and beer. Why not take this and have some fun with it? Like, make a concentrated beer that tastes like a Barrel Aged Bourbon, right? Can I do this? The answer is yes, yes I can.

Iced Beer means that the beer has undergone some degree of fractional freezing somewhat similar to the German Eis bock. Fractional freezing is used in a process to separate substances with different melting points such as water and alcohol's melting points.

First and foremost, there's always someone that calls this illegal distillation. This method is concentration through fractional freezing. Distillation methods that are illegal requires fire, alcohol must be converted to a gas to separate it from the "beer," then converted back to a liquid to form a pure alcohol. The question has already been run by ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) and TTB, which said that freeze concentration is not distillation and that there are no laws against it. Their only concern is commercial breweries labeling and taxes.

My first attempt to ice a beer was on a Wee Heavy at 10% ABV aged on wood. In addition, it was too simple of a recipe to win any competitions, which by the way didn't win a darn thing. However, the simple recipe is perfect for an Ice Beer. You don't want a bunch of adjuncts or caramel malts to concentrate in the Ice Beer.

When I first made the beer, I let it sit on wood a couple weeks. I took a gallon of the Wee Heavy and froze it solid. I turned the frozen beer upside down and within about 60-90 minutes I had a quarter gallon of what I believe to be 40% ABV (The ABV is directly related to the volume of liquids. If you know the ABV prior to fractional freezing, it's only a matter of math. If you reduce the volume by 75% with 25% remaining, divide the original ABV by the remaining percentage of the original volume, or 10%ABV/25% of original volume).

My friends and I took our first sip of my Ice Beer and...Holy cow it tasted awesome! It was like sipping on a nice Bourbon, seriously. My friends and I immediately contemplated how we could make more. A lot more...

Here is my original recipe. It is full of character, dry and slightly roasty after icing the final beer. I would let it sit for 30 days, or Ice it right away and let it sit a minimum of 30 days. However, it's best at 6-12 months. Young beer at a high ABV doesn't taste good. It needs to sit a while before drinking it.

Ferment at 55F to keep the hot liquor flavors to a minimum. If you ferment too high of a temperature, you'll get "hot liquor" flavors (nail polish remover).

Good Luck, and feel free to post your results, or opinions etc.,

09-E Scottish and Irish Ale, Strong Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy)
Min OG: 1.070 Max OG: 1.130
Min IBU: 17 Max IBU: 35
Min Clr: 14 Max Clr: 25 Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00 Wort Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 17.60
Anticipated OG: 1.091 Plato: 21.78
Anticipated SRM: 18.7
Anticipated IBU: 25.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 82 %
Wort Boil Time: 180 Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts
----------------

Evaporation Rate: 15.00 Percent Per Hour
Pre-Boil Wort Size: 10.91 Gal
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.050 SG 12.40 Plato

Grain/Extract/Sugar

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
96.6 17.00 lbs. Pale Malt (Maris Otter) UK 1.038 4
3.4 0.60 lbs. Roasted Barley USA 1.033 300

Hops
Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.75 oz. Fuggle Whole 4.75 25.7 60 min.

Yeast
-----
WYeast 1728 Scotish Ale


Water Profile
-------------
Profile: Reverse Osmosis
pH: 5.2

Near the end of mashing, pour off about 1 gallon of the wort and boil it alone until it caramelizes to almost a syrup. This will give the Wee Heavy its characteristics.

Mash-out Rest Temp : 158 Time: 60
Sparge Temp : 170 Time: 30

update on my experiments: SELECT HERE


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Old 11-26-2013, 08:25 PM   #2
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I will be trying this soon thanks

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Old 11-26-2013, 09:03 PM   #3
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Freeze distillation in the US is illegal, point blank. Ice beer however is not. The difference is how much water is removed. I doubt you will get busted as long as you ain't bragging about it. That said, I don't see most people freezing their beer or cider to make it stronger are testing and measuring to stay on the legal side.

If you want more info than just hearsay and wiki info look at atf ruling 94-3. That gives you the info on how much can be removed and stay legal.

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Old 11-26-2013, 09:08 PM   #4
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ATF Ruling 94-3 applies to professional breweries. I would still tend to doubt the legality of it at home.

That said, I don't think you could actually fractionally freeze up to 40% ABV at home, I would imagine you need better equipment to do something like that, even assuming it was legal. Did you actually find a method for measuring the alcohol content?

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Old 11-26-2013, 09:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neo71665 View Post
Freeze distillation in the US is illegal, point blank. Ice beer however is not. The difference is how much water is removed. I doubt you will get busted as long as you ain't bragging about it. That said, I don't see most people freezing their beer or cider to make it stronger are testing and measuring to stay on the legal side.

If you want more info than just hearsay and wiki info look at atf ruling 94-3. That gives you the info on how much can be removed and stay legal.
I may, or may not have, made some apple jack with this method...

However, the evidence, if there was any, is long gone...

I, may have, fought the law.. and I, might have, Won!

But I never thought of doing it with beer... Not sure how I feel about a 35% abv beer.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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Worst hangovers ever....

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Old 11-27-2013, 02:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neo71665 View Post
Freeze distillation in the US is illegal, point blank. Ice beer however is not. The difference is how much water is removed. I doubt you will get busted as long as you ain't bragging about it. That said, I don't see most people freezing their beer or cider to make it stronger are testing and measuring to stay on the legal side.

If you want more info than just hearsay and wiki info look at atf ruling 94-3. That gives you the info on how much can be removed and stay legal.
Show me the link to the ruling and I'll read it.

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Old 11-27-2013, 04:58 AM   #8
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Default Ruling 94-3 does not make Ice Beer Illegal

Quote:
Originally Posted by neo71665 View Post
Freeze distillation in the US is illegal, point blank. Ice beer however is not. The difference is how much water is removed. I doubt you will get busted as long as you ain't bragging about it. That said, I don't see most people freezing their beer or cider to make it stronger are testing and measuring to stay on the legal side.

If you want more info than just hearsay and wiki info look at ATF ruling 94-3. That gives you the info on how much can be removed and stay legal.
First and foremost, the term freeze distillation, only exists within the brewing community, not the dictionary or within the regulatory entities of the US Government. Therefore, is not illegal. The term does not exist outside of the brewing community. Distillation is the practice of heating beer, changing a liquid to a gas to remove alcohol from the beer, and changing it back to a liquid, or pure alcohol. It has nothing to do with ice.

I read Ruling 94-3 on the ATF and TTB sites, and determined that your argument that the ATF ruling 94-3 is an argument to say that the production of Ice Beer is illegal (by using the term Freeze Distillation), or limits the amount of alcohol concentration is preposterous. It in fact, authorizes the practice of beer concentration, and when applied to home brewing, I would believe that it is authorized.

Section 25.261 authorizes the production of concentrate from beer, and the reconstitution of beer from concentrate, at the brewery.

27 CFR 25.11 defines concentrate as "Concentrate produced from beer by the removal of water under the provisions of Subpart R of this part." This section further states that the processes of concentration and reconstitution of beer are authorized processes in the production of beer.

When ATF authorized the production of Ice Beer through concentration, with tax and label restrictions, the major Breweries took off and made Ice Beer, including Bud Ice.

A fact in point is multiple breweries throughout the United States produce an Ice Beer. In Fact, Redhook's Ice Bock 28 was officially approved and supported by regulators.

In conclusion, Ruling 94-2 was published to address beer concentration and reconstitution by commercial Breweries and address Ice Beer in light of Ruling 94-3. The ATF and TTB have allowed Ice Beers within their restrictions of taxes and labeling. And, using the term Freeze Distillation is outright incorrect in terms of use.
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:08 PM   #9
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I have a small sample of a cider freezing right now actually to try this out.

My wife is enamored with the idea, and is pushing to start doing this more often with more beer styles.

I'm very interested to see how it comes out.

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Old 11-27-2013, 05:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by chri5 View Post
I have a small sample of a cider freezing right now actually to try this out.

My wife is enamored with the idea, and is pushing to start doing this more often with more beer styles.

I'm very interested to see how it comes out.
Man... Now I have to turn you into the Feds.

But for real, not sure how small of a sample it is, but you might need more... To give you an idea. When I might have done this, I may have used a wine bottle worth of cider. That wine bottle possibly reduced to a bit less than a cup of apple jack. And it could have gone down more if the freezer was cold enough... Of course assuming I actually did this.

You can actually control the amount of alcohol based off the freezing temp.
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