Blog of an aspiring foodie

First beer . . .

Posted by beer_chris on 28-April-2009

I was thinking yesterday about the first beer I ever really developed a brand loyalty for, and how that has affected my beer tastes over the years. I’m not talking about the swill that we all buy in 224 packs as high school students (‘The Beast’, anyone?) but rather that first beer that we’re willing to pay a little more for.

For me, this beer was Icehouse. My first exposure to this was at a party at a friends beachhouse on West beach in Galveston. I was always used to drinking some swill like MGD or Natty Light – but this friend of mine had a 12 pack of Icehouse. He extolled the virtues of the higher alcohol brew, and I was hooked. It was so cold – and it only took a couple to get a buzz. What a winner. On top of that, it was made at some special place called the ‘Plank Road Brewery’. That sounded crafty and nice. Add that to the craze around that time with ‘clear’ things, and the related Ice brewing craze and I was in. I felt not only trendy, but popular. For a couple of years (until I discovered Shiner Bock  of course) I paid a little extra to get myself a sixer of Icehouse prior to every party I went to and mocked those who didn’t ‘know better’.

Of course, I can count on zero fingers the number of Icehouse brews I’ve had in the past 10 years – but I still have a fascination with ice brewing. It’s a German technique (I think) that basically takes a beer in the secondary fermentation stage and lowers the temp down to a  point where the beer turns to a slush. Water is removed by straining out the ice – with the alcohol (C2H6O) left in solution. This increases the ABV and makes the beer taste ‘crisper’ (generally) because of the lower temps.

I’ve read some homebrew journals about how to do this with all kinds of styles, including barleywines (yikes – bordering on home distillation). I recently did this with a schwarzbier, and the results were really fantastic. The already crisp dark lager became really nice, if not a little bit strong.

I’m sure I would have loved it when I was in college.

A basic (and highly simplified) timeline of my beer obsessions:

1993: Whatever I could get my hands on

1994: MGD/Icehouse

1996: Shiner Bock (bottles)

1998: Shiner (draft)/ Saint Arnold Amber

1999: Guinness draft cans

2001: Saint Arnold Brown (began homebrewing??)/Saint Arnold Christmas

2003: Lagunitas IPA (first dedicated beer fridge ‘acquired’ 🙂

2004: Second beer fridge acquired – lambic (yum)/kegged homebrew

2005: Third beer fridge acquired/Elissa IPA

2008: Rogue Chipotle (GAWD I love this)/Southern Star Pale

2009: Southern Star Blonde (latest fascination)

PS – I know now that the Plank Rd Brewery is now just a tool of SABMiller. Just sayin’

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