Icehouse Beer Review

Icehouse Beer Review and Guide: Is It Right For You?

IceHouse Lager is an interesting beer that is produced by the Molson Coors Brewing Company. These innovative creations push the envelope of domestic and commercial brewing, and the result is a satisfying and drinkable beer. In this Icehouse Beer Review, we’ll see how this beer, commonly referred to as an “Ice Beer”, offers flavors of sweet roasted malt and soft notes of caramel, combined with hearty American grown corn. The finish is crisp, dry, and smooth, with tastes and aromas of hoppy bitterness.

Read our full guide on how to find the best Lager Beer.

Pros and Cons of IceHouse Lager

Pros:

  • Decent beer with a smooth and satisfying finish
  • Easily Accessible
  • Extremely well-priced
  • Well packaged

Cons:

  • Made with Hop Extract
  • Brewed using corn as an adjunct supplement

What does IceHouse Lager taste like?

IceHouse Lager

IceHouse Lager can be thrown into the typical “All American Lager” category. It’s a good beer but it’s not a great beer. The balance of nutritious corn and sweet roasted malted upfront is interesting and is followed by sharp yet mild aromatic and hoppy bitterness. The finish is surprisingly smooth, crisp, and dry.

What is Ice Beer?

Ice Beer is a type of beer that has undergone freeze distillation or fractional freezing. This process (also known as icing), allows the brew to be lowered to extremely low temperatures until there is the formation of ice crystals.

The theory behind this brewing method is that ethanol has a much lower freezing temperature (-173 degrees F or -114 degrees C) compared to water (32 degrees F or 0 degrees C). Once the required stage of “icing” has been achieved, the ice crystals are removed and then the magic begins. The tastes and aromas are greatly enhanced, and the ABV of the brew can increase to between 12 % and 15%.

The History of Ice Beer

Eisbock Dark Lage

The first-ever Ice Beer was the legendary Eisbock Dark Lager from the Niagara Fall Brewing Company. This beer was the micro-breweries signature winter beer and started with a Doppelbock dark strong Lager (6% ABV) that was then exposed to traditional fractional freezing. Once the ice crystals had been removed, the tastes and aromas had been concentrated and the Niagara Falls Brewing Company were left with the first-ever 8% ABV Eisbock Ice Beer.

The Ingredients

IceHouse Lager is brewed using all-natural ingredients, farmed and sourced in the United States.

  • Water: There are rumors that Molson Coors uses water from the Rocky Mountain Springs to brew their beer, but this is simply not the truth. Molson Coors utilize water that has been collected in the Clear Creek Watershed in Colorado. Not only does the company utilize the water but has been part of the CCWF (Clear Creek Watershed Foundation) since it began in 1997. Molson Coors uses a network of watersheds that are ideally located in proximity to their production facilities.
  • Malt: Malt is a key ingredient to any great brew, whether it is a Stout, Ale, IPA, Lager, or Pilsner. Molson Coors uses a specialty two-row low-protein Lager Malt that is made from all-natural and all-American grown Moravian Barley. Malted barley greatly contributes to the color and taste of the beer.
  • Corn: IceHouse lager and most beers produced by the Molson Coors Brewing Company use corn (adjunct) and corn syrup (dextrose and maltose) in their brewing process. Corn (adjunct) and corn syrup are traditionally used as a source of fermentable sugars and the practice dates back to 1796 in Sydney, Australia. The use of corn produces a lighter and smoother beer. 
  • Yeast: The Molson Coors Brewing Company uses its own specific bottom-fermenting lager yeast strains. The type and origin of this yeast strain is a closely guarded company secret, there is very little known about it except that it is over 161 years old.
  • Hops: IceHouse Lager uses hop extract in their brewing process. Hop Extract is a combination of pure resin and essential oils. Essential oils and soft resins are extracted from the hop bud using an intelligent C02 process. The pure hop resin contains impressive amounts of hop oils, alpha acids, and beta acids. Hop Extract is not as bold or intense as real hops or even hop pellets, but is extremely effective when utilized for aroma and flavor.

The Color

IceHouse

IceHouse Lager is a Dark Lager that is Golden brown to light copper. It looks enticing in a glass and offers a rapidly dissipating solid white head (even when pouring aggressively), with low to medium carbonation. Due to the rapidly dissipating head, there is virtually no lacing on the glass.

The Fermentation Process

IceHouse Lager is brewed using the bottom-fermentation method. As is the case with all Lagers and Pilsners. The bottom-fermentation method uses specific bottom-fermenting yeast strains that operate at the bottom of the wort.

Bottom fermenting yeast strains operate best at temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees C (41 degrees F and 50 degrees F). The lower brewing temperatures allow the yeast to work less vigorously which results in carbon dioxide being created at a slower rate. Subsequently, this results in significantly less turbulence within the beer during this process. While top-fermentation only takes a few days, bottom-fermentations can take up to two weeks. This is because the lower temperatures slow down the rate that sugar is being consumed by the yeast.  

Nutritional Value of IceHouse Lager

IceHouse Lager (and all beers) can be good for you if consumed in moderation and has been made using natural ingredients. Each 12oz serving offers:

  • Calories 153
  • Protein 1 gram
  • Total Fat 0 grams
  • Total sugar 0 gram
  • Dietary Fibre 0 grams
  • Sodium 10mg
  • Carbohydrates 10.6 grams

Packaging

Ice House Package

IceHouse Lager can be purchased in a variety of sizes and containers. It is available in 12oz brown glass bottles, 12oz, and 24oz cans, and even in a 42oz brown plastic bottle.

The 12oz glass bottles are available in 6 and 24 pack options, the 12oz cans are available in a 30 pack option, and the 24oz cans are available in a 12 pack option. Each glass bottle, can or plastic bottle features the Icehouse Logo, it is a classic logo that is red, green and white, and pays homage to the Plank Road Brewery. Each 6, 12, and 24 pack option is expertly packed into a sealed cardboard box, the box is professionally branded and is easy to carry, transport and store.

Where can you purchase IceHouse Lager?

IceHouse Lager is easily accessible and available from numerous outlets across the United States. Most local liquor outlets and gas stations keep stock. IceHouse can also be purchased from supermarkets like Tesco and Walmart.

Numerous major distributors ship IceHouse Lager all over the United States, you can try companies like Tower Wine and Spirits, US Distribution, or Beverage Distributors Inc. Alternatively, so can simply have IceHouse Lager delivered to your door. Numerous online companies will ship to you regardless of your location. I recommend InstaCart, Drizly, or Uptown Spirits.

Additional IceHouse Products

Also available from the Molson Coors Brewing Company is the IceHouse Edge. Icehouse Edge is like the big brother of Icehouse Lager and is brewed along with the same fractional freezing principles. Where they do differ is in the taste and the ABV.

When compared to IceHouse Lager, IceHouse Edge has enhanced malty and corn flavors with bold hoppy bitterness. The ABV of IceHouse Edge is a whopping 8.0%, which is significantly higher than the above-average 5.5% that IceHouse Lager offers.

The Molson Coors Brewing Company

Possibly on track to be the largest Beer and Brewing company in the world, Molson Coors has been brewing beer for more than two centuries and has accumulated eight breweries in the process. They are responsible for an astounding 106 brands, some of the most popular on the market like Fosters, Sol, Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, and Miller. They also own some niche brands that most individuals are not aware of such as Huzzah, Revolver Brewing, Saint Archer, Steel Reserve, and Wanderoot.

Molson Coors started in 2005 as a merger between Molson of the United States and Coors from Canada. In 2016, Molson Coors became the third-largest brewer in the world after acquiring the Miller Brewing company for the sum of US$12 Billion.

IceHouse Lager Alternatives

Blue Ice Beer

Below are four quality alternatives to IceHouse Lager:

  1. Boxer Ice: Boxer Ice Lager is hand-crafted by the Minhas Craft Brewery in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Canada. A typical Canadian Dry Lager is expertly brewed in small batches using all-natural ingredients. Exceptional water from deep water wells, the finest hops from the Pacific NorthWest, pure two-row barley that is grown and malted locally, resulting in a satisfying and refreshing beer. Upfront you get a slight sweetness, subtle aromas of grain and malt, followed by light hoppy bitterness on the dry finish. Boxer Ice lager is matured in cold storage facilities for a minimum of five weeks to ensure a smooth, crisp, and clean beer.
  2. Blue Ice Beer: Blue Ice Lager is produced in Hong Kong by the San Miguel Brewing Company. It is a pale amber adjunct Lager that has been slowly cooled until ice crystals are formed, it is then carefully cold filtered to remove any heavy or unwanted flavor composites. The result is a medium-bodied beer with lovely hoppy aromas and bitterness followed by a smooth dry finish common with adjunct lagers. Blue Ice Beer is big on hop flavor and bitterness but offers a lower than average ABV of 4.1%.
  3. Schlitz Bull Ice:  Schlitz Bull Ice is a complex and flavorful beer. Initial aromas of malt, yeasty dough, earthy goodness, and pure honey are followed by tastes of corn and freshly baked biscuits. The finish is smooth and dry, with lovely flavors of malt, honey, fruity corn combined with sharp hoppy bitterness. This high-gravity beer will not only satisfy your thirst but will keep you wanting more. Schlitz Bull Ice is proudly brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company in Milwaukee, United States.
  4. Molson Ice: Molson Ice is an American-style Lager that has undergone fractional freezing to enhance the flavors and aromas. Upfront you get aromas and tastes of sweet grain, the finish is dry and smooth with subtle notes of hoppy bitterness. It offers a small white head, is pale yellow with medium carbonation. Molson Ice is a full-flavored Lager with an ABV of 5.6%.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What beer is similar to IceHouse Lager?

Answer: If you are looking for an alternative ice beer with similar tastes and qualities, then Molson Ice is probably your best bet. Both beers undergo the fractional freezing and ice-filtration process that result in similar enhanced flavors and aromas. If you are in the market for a regular Lager or Pilsner then I would recommend a Stella Artois Lager or a Coors Light American Lager. Now although these beers differ greatly, both possess similar qualities to an IceHouse Lager, the sharp hoppy bitterness from the Stella Artois Lager, and the smooth adjunct qualities from the Coors Light.

Question: Is IceHouse Lager a good beer?

Answer: IceHouse Lager is a good beer, but it’s not an exceptional beer. It is drinkable and lives up to the promise of never having a watered-down taste. Considering the innovation and amount of energy required to produce this product, combined with the full flavors, high ABV, and extremely affordable price, it is a good beer and a good product.

Question: When was IceHouse Lager first produced?

Answer: IceHouse Lager was introduced as the first domestically brewed ice beer in 1993. It quickly became the most popular ice beer available and this resulted in the start of the now-infamous “ice beer wars” of the 1990s. IceHouse Lager was created at the Old Plank Road Brewery in Milwaukee, United States.

Question:  Is IceHouse a Lager?

Answer: Icehouse is a Lager-style beer as is the case with all ice beers on the market. The very first ice beer was developed using a high gravity dark Lager called Doppelbock (Double Bock). Once this dark Lager went through the fractional freezing and ice filtering process, it was renamed Eisbock (Ice Bock). A “Bock” is a strong dark traditional German beer and when translated means “desire”.

Question: Is there a shortage of IceHouse Lager?

Answer: Unfortunately, IceHouse Lager is fast becoming one of the company’s worst-performing brands, and the trend indicates that demand is likely to continue along the same path. I’m not sure if the market is flooded with alternative brands or if the general interest in ice beer is simply dwindling. If you are a fan of this beer I suggest you stock up, I don’t foresee IceHouse Lager being produced for very much longer.

Conclusion

IceHouse lager is an all-American Lager produced by the Molson Coors Brewing Company. Upfront you get flavors of roasted malt with a hint of caramel, combined with American corn. The finish is surprisingly smooth with bitter hoppy goodness. It is easily accessible, professionally packaged and considering the ABV it is an affordable and budget-friendly beer.

The fractional freezing and ice filtration process do enhance the flavor and aromas but there seems to be something missing. As I said, this is a good beer but by no means a great beer. I’m not sure if it’s the use of hop extract or the use of corn as an adjunct, maybe the combination of the two but it just doesn’t hit the spot.

I consider IceHouse Lager to be more of a novelty beer, and one that every beer lover should at least try once. However, it is not a beer that I could drink all the time or even have more than two in a row. At the same time, I can also understand why Milwaukee locals or ice beer lovers might enjoy this beer, particularly if you grew up drinking Milwaukee’s finest.

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