HOME > Chowhound > Beer >

Discussion

Freeze distillation

I'm not sure if this should be here or the Beer board, but anywho...

Has anybody ever tried freeze distillation? I have looked about on Google for methods, but there doesn't seem to be much available.
I intend to try and make an Eisbock style beer, starting with a good quality home brewed stout (though something commercial for trial runs) and, effectively, remove the water to concentrate flavour even further.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Distillation is the wrong word for it. Google _how to make applejack_. While it's for hard cider, the technique for beer will be the same.

    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

    6 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      Ah, just as easy as I had assumed then! How about carbonation though? Bottle conditioning would not work at such a high ABV

      1. re: Steve_K

        Keep in mind that you're going to run a very high risk of introducing a lot of oxygen into the brew. Oxidation might be okay for cider--I'm not sure--but it's certainly not desirable for most styles of beer.

        Carbonation? Invest in a Cornelius keg system. It's a great investment on many levels -- I highly recommend it. Once you have a keg system you will no wonder why you didn't buy one earlier, especially when you don't have to deal with 48 bottles every time you brew. Trust me on this.

        Actually, the best way to do freeze distillation (whether or not it's actual distillation) might be to pump the beer/cider/whatever into a keg, freeze it there, then pump the liquid portion through a loose filter (to catch the shards of ice) into another keg. The risk would be overfilling the keg and having it pop due to expansion during freezing. Avoid that and the plus side would be near zero potential for oxidation (assuming that you were using an impeller pump and filter designed for brewing).

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          I have considered a Cornelius system for ales, but I think the small production quantities of the eisbock combined with only wanting a small quantity at any given time make bottling a better option.

          1. re: Steve_K

            You can get a counter-pressure bottling system and use your keg to fill bottles very quickly and easily. (Just be careful not to flip the "liquid out" switch while the keg is full of cherry ale and the output end of the filler is pointed at the off-white wall of your kitchen. The cherry ale will shoot out at amazing velocity and you'll spend part of the following weekend re-painting the wall.)

            Or, if you want to forgo the counter-pressure investment, there is another workaround: increase the pressure in the keg (thus over-carbonating the beer), over-balance your line out (which means get a very long, thin line; I use 40' of 1/8" tube), and attach an extension (another piece of line, 1/4" this time so it fits) to the end of the cobra faucet--long enough to reach the bottom of the bottles. Chill both the beer and the bottles down and then fill the bottles using that system, making sure that the beer is getting pumped all the way to the bottom of each bottle with minimal splashing and capping each immediately the moment it's filled.

            The result is not quite as good as bottling under counter pressure but the long line causes pressure to be quite low at the output end, plus the chilled bottles help inhibit carbonation loss. And what carbonation you do lose will be made up for by the over-carbonation.

            All of this of course assumes that you've made the jump to a keg system. And even more fun awaits, but that's a topic for another day.

            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              >Or, if you want to forgo the counter-pressure investment, there is another workaround: increase the pressure in the keg (thus over-carbonating the beer), over-balance your line out (which means get a very long, thin line; I use 40' of 1/8" tube), and attach an extension (another piece of line, 1/4" this time so it fits) to the end of the cobra faucet--long enough to reach the bottom of the bottles.

              No need ot overcarbonate your beer if you fill the bottles correctly. In my experience, using a tube created more foam than just lowering the CO2 pressure down to about 5psi and tilting the bottle while filling from a picinic tap. You want a little foam anyway in order to purge O2 from the bottle when you cap on it. Takes a little practice to get it right, but that's true with anything related to homebrewing. I find no loss of carbonation using my simple technique - and have had bottles last years at cellar temps.

              1. re: LStaff

                Did you balance your lines out? This will avoid having the beer spray out even at high pressure.

                I'm not sure why the tube would create more foam; it should minimize splashing and distance that the liquid needs to travel through air. Plus, after the first ounce or so new liquid will be introduced under liquid already in the bottle, thereby eliminating the chance of further oxidation. I guess it could create additional nucleation sites but that seems like a stretch, especially if you cut the end of the tube at an angle.

                But anyway, as is usual with homebrew, whatever works for you is always the best approach!

    2. I believe the proper name for this is

      static distillation

      If you needed to search on this, try using this term.

      1. It's also called "jacking", hence applejack. Compared to evaporative distillation, it leaves behind a lot of by-products (like methanol) that aren't so good for you. It's still practiced in cold-climate backwoods regions of the US and Canada, but commercial applejack makers use evaporative distillation these days, presumably to avoid blinding their customers.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          The amount of methanol left behind depends on how much methanol is in the product to begin with. Methanol is produced during fermentation as a by-product of pectin, which may be a problem with apples, but should not be an issue with beer. The problem can be greatly reduced for apples as well by using an enzyme called pectinase (available at homebrew shops) to eliminate the pectin prior to fermentation. Not that I'm suggesting that anyone try such a thing.

          1. re: davis_sq_pro

            You are correct on all counts. All those are really good suggestions.

            In making a ice wine the methanol and other nasties doesn't get concentrated enough to be a problem, and actually it's the other stuff, not the methanol that's the problem. Methanol actually is very sweet and tasty and doesn't give hangovers. And the cure for methanol poisoning is ethanol, so the little bit of methanol mixed with the ethanol is fine.

            Applejack made in the old way by freezing is a many month long process. the first ice forms easily, but as it gets more concentrated the ice doesn't form as easily, both from the higher alcohol, and from the residual sugars.

            At my old brewery and winery I made eisbock by freezing beer in a tank that had the head space filled with CO2 to prevent oxidation. I also made an apple ice wine the same way.

        2. Definitely this should be on the beer board and the topic heading changed to Making Eisbock / Ice Beer.

          As others have said this isn't distillation or making a spirit. You are making an Eisbock. Although actually you are making an Ice Stout, since eisbock starts out with a bock ale.