Finally in Texas: Kulmbacher, the original eisbock

Dallas Craft Beer Examiner

Yes, I have a wish list of beers I want to see available for sale here in Texas. And today, that list is one beer shorter.

We now have Kulmbacher Eisbock stocked in Texas coolers, from the Kulmbacher Brauerei of Kulmbach, Germany. Kulmbacher is a relatively rare style known as an eisbock, or “ice bock,” that takes advantage of a quirk of chemistry that ethanol does not freeze solid until a temperature of –173°F.

According to the story, the eisbock was invented accidentally when a barrel of recently brewed bock beer was left to freeze outside during a cold winter. As the water freezes long before the alcohol, it can be removed as a solid block of ice and leaves behind a much stronger, more concentrated beverage. (If you have at all been following the recent BrewDog alcoholic arms race, this is the method they are using to achieve such high-gravity products.)

Kulmbacher is everything a good doppelbock is, only intensified. It pours a deep brown-black with a sweet and malty aroma, and the taste is heavily caramelized and roasted. Sorghum elements are present, as are deep, rich flavors of prunes, raisins and figs. However, even with a strength of 9.2% ABV, it remains smooth and never harsh or hot with alcohol.

Current Texas law prohibits our local breweries from producing eisbocks, as the method described above is technically distilling. And even with its luxurious flavor and alcoholic strength, Kulmbacher still pairs well with a meal of roasted beef or bird, heavy on the campfire.

(Possibly even more exciting than finally getting Kulmbacher locally is the fact this beer is brought in by the Shelton Brothers distributors of Massachusetts, a major importer of European beers, now available in Texas. Can EKU, Cantillon, Fantome and dozens of others be far behind?)

Availability: Bottles are now found at better liquor stores and pubs; I would assume draft accounts are soon to follow. A bit spendy, as a six-pack usually retails for around $16, but worth every penny.


Originally published February 19, 2010, at

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