Crafting an award-winning beer requires a careful balance of skill, creativity, and patience. The team at Pillars Brewery and East London Liquor Company demonstrated all three with their collaborative Barrel-Aged Icebock, which took home the coveted Beer of the Year title at the London Beer Competitions 2023. From selecting the perfect barrels to age the beer for just the right amount of time, every step in the process was deliberate and calculated.
We HAD to know more about this wonderful beer. So we got in touch with them and asked them about the collaboration. Knowing all about the work that went into crafting such a wonderful beer truly could make anyone passionate about beer, melt. Read along as we get deep into the origins of Beer of the Year 2023 from London Competitions
How did the collaboration come about?
We started to work with East London Liquor Company a few years ago when they began stocking our beer. Since then the relationship has developed as we hosted events and showcases together, including teaming their London Rye Whisky with our Pillars Pilsner as a boilermaker. Our businesses have always worked in a complimentary manner, as two strong and well-established East London brands. When looking for a partner to create a new spin on our existing Icebock lager ELLC was the obvious choice! Luckily they felt the same way and Barrel-Aged Icebock was born. We love the ELLC team and have great fun whenever we collaborate with them.
Barrel-Aged Icebock was brewed using the same recipe and freeze-concentration process as our classic Icebock. Following fermentation the beer emerges as a Doppelbock which is when we begin the freeze concentration process. By bringing the temperature of the lager down below freezing point the water freezes leaving just ethanol. The ice separates from the alcohol leaving a more concentrated beer with a higher ABV, intense flavour and amplified aroma. The Doppelbock has now transformed into an Eisbock.
The additional final stage of the process is what differentiates Barrel-Aged Icebock. The classic Icebock was transferred into an East London Liquor London Rye Whiskey cask to be barrel-aged for nine months. The cask already absorbed London Rye Whisky into the wood, so as the Icebock sits the spirit leeches into the beer. Along with the whiskey, flavour and aroma compounds from the wood are also absorbed into the dark lager.
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The result is a rich, full-bodied lager packed with rye toast and oak flavours. A smooth noble hop spiciness seeps through to the palate with a balanced and warming finish. The intense taste is accompanied by the sweet aromas of vanilla, dark chocolate and prunes. A 10.8% ABV makes this lager ideal as a beer-lovers alternative to celebratory tipples such as champagne and prosecco.
So if you're a beer enthusiast, and are in London, don’t miss out on this one. Be sure to visit Pillars Brewery to try the award-winning Barrel-Aged Icebock. Experience the magic, savour it. Cheers!
Written by Jason Shepherd, Beverage Trade Network.