The Net Net Home


















Contribute Masthead About Home

Ice House Beer
Plank Road Brewery, Milwaukee

by Markian Gooley

When the ice beers hit the U. S. a while back, I tried several of them and was disappointed each time. They all tasted like conventional mass-market beers that had been left in too cold a refrigerator, then opened and decanted off the lump of ice that had formed in the bottle. Various qualities of the parent beer, both good and bad, appeared in a concentrated form.

I can't recall whether Ice House was one of the beers I tried back then, but it's true to type: concentrate of the usual American beer. The label gives some indirect warnings: the phrases "union made" and "5.5% alc./vol." When a label boasts of pure water or appeals to patriotism or labor solidarity or the desire to get drunk or anything else that doesn't affect the flavor of the beer, beware. Note also that (unless alcohol has finally dissolved my memory) in the U. S., alcohol content is traditionally given by weight, not by volume as in the rest of the world: because alcohol is less dense than water, a given weight displaces more volume than an equal weight of water, so that the by-weight percentage is smaller. (Ask anyone running naked through the streets shouting "Eureka!") Either Plank Road is trying to make its beer seem stronger than it is, or it's competing with Canadian ice beers labeled with by-volume strengths.

Ice House (I can't tell from the label whether the name is two words or one) has the usual American Pilsner smell of light malt and Saaz hops, only more concentrated than usual. When cold it's bland, with only a hint of hop bitterness in its aftertaste. It's more malty in flavor than the typical mass-market beer, but as it warms, the usual nasty tastes show up in unusual force: adjuncts, maize, rice starch, and Heaven knows what else: the usual culprits that make the major brands so bad. The dextrin stickiness that belongs with this much flavor is absent, and the bite of unbalanced alcohol is all too present.

When a good beer is warm enough to show off its virtues, Ice House is sickly-sweet, and the tastes of adjuncts are intense. I still can't pin them down, but they bring to mind the nastier sides of Cream of Wheat, cornmeal mush, and envelope glue. I thought that I'd be able to characterize these flavors better, given their greater strength here, but I couldn't. They're the same ones in Miller, Budweiser, Coors, and the other major beers, followed by an aftertaste that strikes me as unusually foul. I couldn't finish my review bottle, and I'm not one to pour beer down the drain. If you're stuck drinking Ice House, put it on ice first and choke it down before it grows warm, just as with any similar beer.

The Net Net is affiliated with
All contents of this Web site are copyright © 1996 - 2001 The Net Net and individual artists and authors. Do not reproduce contents of this site without permission of The Net Net and the artist or author. You may link to this site freely.
Design by Marmoset Media. Illustrations by Les graphiques Grenade. Hosted by The Anteroom.