Wednesday, 19 March 2014


No, that isn't the shout that came just before the Titanic hit the iceberg. It's the name we've given to our latest experimental beer. It's an eisbock.

I've wanted to have a go at freezing a beer for a while. Really, to make it worth doing, it's best to start with a fairly strong beer. Having now tried it, I would further endorse this starting point.

Rhetoric III, our green tea and Szechuan pepper infused beer was 12.4% and interesting enough. I racked some off into firkins and got an old unused chest freezer and bunged the firks inside that. After several days we ran off what hadn't frozen and then refroze that.

The then double-freeze concentrated beer was re-carbonated and bottled for your delight. There are only just over 100 bottles. If you buy it all I'll have a go at making a bigger batch, and perhaps next time we'll try for a higher ABV. It's not that we're looking to break any records you understand, just learn how to make really good eisbock.

This one came out at 20.4%, but more importantly it's very interesting trying out the differences between the base beer and the concentrated version. You can buy it here if you'd like to try it.

It's an interesting process incidentally. Quite a lot harder than I expected. For a start, it is not really very easy to measure the ABV of what comes off and so judging when to stop is rather tricky. We'd love to have a means of checking ABV at each stage of the process, but sending multiple samples off to the lab is somewhat expensive. When we did send the finished product off for testing the lab reported some difficulties in getting an answer.


StringersBeer said...

Did you have to get a distiller’s licence?

Dave Bailey said...

Well Stringers, to get a distillers licence you need to have a still.

StringersBeer said...

Is that how it works? I'm sure you asked the Excise. What duty rate do they make you pay?

Dave Bailey said...

Clearly the details of exactly how we organise our duty is between me and the revenue.

Although, as an aside, when was the last time you got through to someone in our beloved HMRC who actually could answer your question?

StringersBeer said...

Genuinely Dave, I pray you're right. I wouldn't be at all happy if you got into trouble. The Excise, they're quite hard to speak to aren't they? Makes it hard to do due diligence. I saw this online though.

Cooking Lager said...

Only £21.50? How can it be craft when it's that cheap?

Dave Bailey said...

Cookie, you are so right, cutting my own through at that. Especially as Stringers has pointed out the possible risk associated with this balmy idea.

But, this is a development product, if you like. We need to find out if there is a demand for it before we progress the details of exactly were it sits in the whole "is it beer or is it a spirit" and the big question of investing in a very big freezer.

Tastes bloody great, mind.

StringersBeer said...

You're right Cookie, it's a cracking price for a lovely super-strong beer. Dave should have put an extra tenner on as a contribution to his legal fund.

Dave Bailey said...

Well Stringers, you know me, never let bureaucratic details get in the way. Experimentation and innovation tends to carry some risks. Be bold, that's what I say.

I'd not seen the particular link you posted before. Indeed, having revisited the issue I'm quite sure some of the information on the HMRC site has changed recently. I have been trying to get definitive answers previously. Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not totally stupid.

So, although ignorance is no defence, there are a few arguments I have up my sleeve. Surely ice filtered beer might also fall into the category, for instance. (It is interesting that in my experience icebock suffers absolutely no chill haze at normal refrigeration temperatures)

But, I calculate the extra duty due on this batch to be about 64 quid. Even then, it's not really due until the batch is sold. Meanwhile, as it is sold, I shall ring fence the extra duty for when the nice revenue man comes calling.