Came home last night around 2:30am after seeing Bob Weir and Phil Lesh rip it up with Further and found this bad boy waiting for me in the fridge. It was wrapped up in a shady brown paper bag with my name written on a yellow sticky note attached to it…last minute surprise birthday present from my roommate. No one was up and it was a million degrees in the apartment so I cracked it and session-ed the shit out of it alone in the kitchen listening to the Dead.
I’m not gonna type out a formal review of this beer. It just doesn’t need one. We’ve all had 40’s of Milwaukee’s Best Ice. “Ice brewed for a crisp, bold taste” says the label. You buy it because it’s cheap and gets the job done. A $1.99 can go a long way these days believe it or not.
For those of you who are curious, “ice” beers are generally cheap-ass pale lagers that have been frozen before filtration. Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water so when a batch is frozen, ice crystals form in pockets of water in the beer. Those ice crystals are then filtered off leaving a beer with a reasonably higher alcohol concentration.
Here’s a little history of ice beers from Wikipedia…
Ice beer (in name) originated in Canada. The first ice beer marketed in North America was Molson Ice which was introduced in April 1993, although the process was patented earlier by Labatt, instigating the so-called “Ice Beer Wars” of the 1990s. Labatt patented a process where beer is pumped through a tank of ice crystals before filtration. The freezing of beer allowed the removal of protein-polyphenol compounds, creating a smoother, more colloidally stable beer, and avoiding long aging time.
Ice beer gained popularity in the United States during the 1990s. Miller introduced Icehouse under the Plank Road Brewery brand name at that time, which is still sold nationwide; Molson introduced Molson Ice; Budweiser introduced Bud Ice (5.5% abv) in 1994 and it remains one of the country’s top-selling ice beers, Bud Ice has a slightly lower alcohol content than Natural Ice and other competitors and it is claimed to retain more of the character/flavor.
Brands such as Busch Ice (5.9% abv) and Natural Ice (5.9% abv) also use the freezing process. Natural Ice is the No. 1 selling ice beer brand in the United States, its low price makes it very popular on college campuses all over the country. The ice beers are typically known for their high alcohol-to-dollar ratio.
Although “icing” increases alcohol content, most of the United States breweries simply add water back into their beer after the icing process to bring the alcohol content back down to nearly the same levels. Otherwise the beer would qualify as a “beer concentrate,” which is illegal under ATF rules governing beer production.
So find two or three buddies this weekend, throw on some Rage Against The Machine or some Snoop and grab a roll of duct tape. Unleash the Beast!