5 Best Eisbocks of 2021
This style of beer began completely by accident. As the story goes, in 1890 a distracted Bavarian brewer from Kulmbacher Brauerei, the most famous maker of bocks (strong German lager) at the time, left a barrel of beer outside in the cold snow. In the morning when he discovered his mistake, the brewer found a barrel of frozen water separated from a highly concentrated solution of alcohol.
Eisbock, or "ice bock" as it became known, is a type of beer that undergoes freeze distillation, where the frozen water separates from the alcohol and sugars. The liquid that is left over is not only sweet on the palette, but also incredibly potent, typically hitting somewhere between 12 percent to 15 percent ABV. Accordingly, these beers are often compared to being more like liqueur than beer.
Although it's a fairly rare style, especially in the U.S. where alcohol laws sometimes equate freeze distillation with an actual form of distillation, Eisbocks are worth your time. If only to try a unique form of beer.
It's important to note the distinctions between Eisbock and the commercial ice lagers that macro breweries popularized in the mid 1990s. These breweries used freeze distillation to make almost slushy-like lagers (think Natural Ice, Bud Ice, etc). These beers were nowhere near their authentic, rich, complex counterparts. But, they did prove to be great marketing gimmicks.
Normally appearing in a range from reddish ruby to dark brown, Eisbocks carry notes of toast, caramel, chocolate, and dark stone fruits with a very velvety finish. You won't find much hoppiness here.
Today, you'll mostly come across this style in Europe, but a few American brewers have tried their hand at the Eisbock. From a boozy treat aged on raspberries from a Michigan-based brewery to a Jamaican Rum barrel-aged version from a Netherlands brewery, here are Untappd's 5 Highest-Rated Eisbocks of 2021.
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If you do venture out into the tundra of Eisbocks make sure you check-it in. Untappd recently announced a new core badge for 2021 called From the Cold. To earn this badge, check-in to five different beers with the style of Bock - Eisbock Traditional and Freeze-Distilled. Then grab your ice pick and join Drinking Socially hosts Harrison and Jon as they come in "From the Cold" themselves to earn this badge! Tune into this week's episode of Drinking Socially on YouTube or listen wherever you find your favorite podcasts.