BeerSci: How To Make Strong Beer Stronger

on 11/01/13 at 1:25 pm


imagesFractional freezing will concentrate any beer, provided you have a bit of patience and a very cold freezer.

Team BeerSci was marooned in The Land of Always Winter (aka New Hampshire) for the Christmas holidays. I decided to take advantage of the absurd cold (it never got above freezing) and try an experiment in beer concentration: I would freeze some of the water out of a brew and decant the now-concentrated booze into a delicious stronger tipple, a practice called fractional freezing.

The concept is simple: water (the main component of beer) has a higher solid-to-liquid phase transition temperature (aka “melting point”) than does ethanol. If one were to get beer cold enough, one could freeze some of the water in the beer — the alcohol would remain liquid — and separate the solids from the liquids. This would yield almost-pure water ice, and beer with a higher percent alcohol-by-volume (%ABV). Repeated rounds of this (under successively colder conditions) could yield a pretty potent brew.