Ice distilled IPA blind test.
To celebrate first 500 followers on Instagram, I have decided to finalize the first blind test ever.
Very unique beer style – Ice Distilled IPA – to keep the long story short – take a good IPA and start freezing it. Water freezes faster than alcohol. Therefore, you can separate both phases easily. The trick is to not lose too much taste of beer in the process. At least in Europe, not many breweries decide to try, but I have managed to get 3 candidates:
Spółdzielczy Lodołamacz (www.browarspoldzielczy.com). Ice distilled Imperial IPA. 11% of alcohol. Spółdzielczy belongs to my favorite breweries and I hope that they have done a good job here.
From the Netherlands:
Uiltje Old Enough to Drink (www.uiltjecraftbeer.com ). Scary 21% of alcohol. Considered by me one of the best IPAs I have ever had.
Brewdog Hop Shot (www.brewdog.com ). 22% of alcohol, West Coast IPA. I am very curious whether the godfathers of craft can redefine the ice distilled beer style.
Of course, I am aware that Lodołamacz alcohol content puts it in the different league than the other two beers, but I need to be pragmatic. Not like I can pick this kind of beers on the street.
Test is really blinded. All beers were cooled down to 14O Celsius and poured in glasses by my wife.
All three candidates are amber brown, #3 being a tad darker than the rest. #1 and #3 still try to for something like a head, #2 looks flat. There are no CO2 bubbles in none of the beers. In fact, I haven’t expected a lot.
#1 is quite positive surprise. Well preserved hops aroma – some tropical fruits, grass and citrusy notes. Resin and some alcohol.
#2 very strong alcohol aroma burning the nose, there are some leftovers of hop resin and malt, but in that case alcohol takes the most.
#3 balance of alcohol and fruity marmalade, caramel, pineapple. Alcohol is clear, but does not burn the nose like #2. Pleasant.
#1 Peach and tropical fruits, caramel and bread. Bit sweet with a resin finish. Clear hop bitterness in the taste. Finish is bitter and a bit alcohol. Beer is full-bodied, sticky on the tongue but acceptable.
#2 As already suggested by the aroma, something went wrong here. Heavy alcohol is hard to beat. Some little notes of sweet malt and bread. Very thick on the tongue, no carbonation. Interestingly this one is very, very bitter. To tell you the truth – it is the only thing I like about it.
#3 Very well balanced tropical fruits, marmalade sweetness, floral aromas and alcohol. Bitter. Body is thick but not sticky, some carbonation is left. Overall looks like it is very balanced and alcohol is complemented by other assets.
Before seeing the bottles
#1 is probably the Lodołamacz (Polish word for Icebreaker). Mostly because of clearly different alc. Content than #2 and #3. If I am right this also proves what I have said before – the process is the key, and the longer you distill, the more you may lose. #1 that one is more on the beer side, whereas #2 and 3 are on the side of degustation alcohols already.
#2 and #3. I hated #2 for its heavy alcohol, #3 for me is excellent drink. Heavy but perfectly balanced. Unless Het Uiltje screwed this lot, #2 is Brewdog and #3 is Het Uiltje.
Comment – I am not saying who is the winner. I am saying who is the looser. In that case it is Brewdog. 1% alcohol difference between Hop Shot and Old Enough to Drink does not explain why Brewdog’s beer is so heavy of alcohol and simply distasteful.
Old Enough to Drink proves once again to be a world class beer. Heavy in alcohol, but still beer. Excellent.
Lodołamacz is simply very good beer. However, to compare it to Old Enough to Drink it would require additional double concentration.
Final notes on the bottles and availability.
Lodołamacz is impossible to get. You need to know people, who know people and a lot of begging is included (many thanks to www.ebrowarium.pl). This has a lot of to do with the costs of production and the policy of the brewery who likes to produce an exclusive beer from time to time.
Brewdog was (and still may be) available in many beer shops and Brewdog’s brewbars all around the Europe.
Het Uiltje was freely available over the internet and in various shops in Europe. Even in Poland.
Kudos goes to Het Uiltje, for making an excellent beer, and making it AVAILABLE to literally everybody who wants to try it. Everybody else – look and learn.
Now the bottle – here the situation is different. Brewdog sells the beer is shot, 150 ml bottles. Size fits the taste. Anyway, I couldn’t swallow more of this thing.
Het Uiltje, sells their beer in a classical bottle, with cartoon label. Nothing here suggests exclusivity. That’s a pity, because I would like to keep some of this beers for presents and they just lack the appearance.
Lodołamacz looks like the exclusive beer. Look at the label. It is not paper, it is fabric. Picture and letters are embroidered with a silver thread. Now this is something I could give to somebody.
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