Ice bocks and ice beers?
I've recently heard rumors of some breweries removeing some water from thier beers by freezing. I've always been led to believe any removal of water by freezing is legally a distilation process and needs the proper license. On a simular matter I've always thought that fortifing a beer with alcohol, IE: grain alcohol or other spirirts is illegal. I've heard rumors of both these practices over the years and want to hear what other people know about this. I have also heard that removing water from a beer by freezing may be legal in Canada and their may comercial examples. Just curious.
The ice beers produced by the various big brewers do indeed often produce lage masses of ice around the cooling coils. They are not using this method to intentionally concentrate the alcohol. It is much cheaper to produce a high wort gravity than to use expensive refrigeration. to do this The purpose is to remove additional quantities of haze material, harsh tasting materials (the proteins and tannins which also also cause the hazes), the precipitation process occuring more readily at lower temperatures. The fact that ice is produced as well is a by product and has been utilised as a marketing tool. Most of these beers are subsequently diluted after filtration to achieve a very accurate (i.e. limited range) target alcohol.
I can't answer the other comments - someone else please ??
I can answer a few of your questions
1. Freezing beer has nothing to do with distillation. It is ok, you just need to make certain that you don't go over State or Fed maximum alcohol concentrations.
2. You are right, it is illegal to add distilled spirits to beer.
3. It is not illegal to add spirits to wine. If you are a brewery that also has a wine license, you could produce a beer, add any kind of alcohol that you choose, and classify it as a fortified dessert wine made from "other agricultural products". It may take a while to get it through the ALFD, but it would pass in the end. In other words, you would have to have your formula approved before you obtained a COLA. If you are a brewpub/winery, you could make some really, really interesting high alcohol beers in this manner.
I suggest reading ATF Ruling 94-3 on ice beers.
The Dept of Treasury proposed rule change on flavored malt beverages.
Last edited by MoreBeer; 01-14-2005 at 07:40 AM.
Thanks MoreBeer for the link. The legal aspects of it was what I was more interested in and it pretty much confirmed my thoughts on the matter. What I got from the ATF link was that in the process of Ice Beers and/or concentrated beer was that any water removed from the process has to be reintroduced to the beer to maintain the previous volume and strength without going above .5% abv of the original beer. I was more interested in the craft brewed aspects of this as I have heard of people taking strong beers and further strengthing them by freezing off water such as in the German method of Ice Bock. What I gather is that is illegal as it removes water but does not reintroduce it back. As for distillation I was referring to the process called "freeze distillation" which was a technique used in the production of applejack where a hard cider was further concentrated by removing water via freezing. Lager Brewer was right in that it is not technically distillation but it is still called that by some. I am now interested if that method is used by anyone in the US to produce applejack or other beverages and what approval they might need.
Fermented Beverages by Lea and Piggot will probably have some info for you. It has the most thorough discussion on Cider that I know of...focusing quite a bit on the old school French methods. I don't recall that there are any rules regarding the freezing of cider, although the fact that you can add "alcohol" to "dessert fruit wine" up to a total packaged abv of 24% tells me that they probably don't care what the source of the pumped up abv is. You would probably have to call it "dessert apple wine" or something silly like that.
Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/se...894921-3129522
As always, check the BATF rules....most of this will be found under Standards of Identity.
I guess that I should have been more clear about the max. alcohol increase in the US. This is why Schneider's Eisbock is @ 11% in the US, and is in the 20's at the pub in Munich. Aren't BATF rules fun?
One last thing
The absolute easiest way to find out if a process is legal is to fill out a formula or statement of process form from ALFD, giving an honest account of what you are doing, and see if it passes. You'd be amazed at some of the categories that they'll stick your formulas in.....I know that I have been surprised.
You can drive a truck through most of the loopholes that exist in the BATF Standards of Identity reg's. Hell, the whole RTD segment arose from this fact.
Thanks for the links and info.