When is a beer not a beer?

Through Metafilter, I recently discovered news of a beer that states it has an Alcohol-by-Volume(ABV) of 41%.

41%? That’s a beer that has a proof of eighty-two! To put this in some context, your average beer weighs in somewhere between 4-12% ABV, depending upon the beer. Even those nose-punchers known as Barleywines can only get up to 20% ABV, give or take. 41% is rather remarkable, and one wonders what yeast combo they are using to get such a high alcoholic content, as most yeasts are incapable of living through such a high concentration of alcohol.

A quick look at their description of the beer lets all of us in on their secret:

Sink the Bismarck is a quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create at a staggering 41% ABV.

Um…it’s frozen four times? So the alcoholic content is not created by some strain of super-yeast, but rather by ice-distillation, a process so old that Applejack, that liquor made from distilling fermented cider was often made the same way?

Folks, this doesn’t sound like it’s a beer, it sounds as if they’re making a whiskey. Granted, an over-hopped, carbonated whiskey, but still… whiskey. If the intent of the freezing is to remove water from the beer and to concentrate the alcohol, that’s distillation in the oldest definition of the process.

I’d be very interested in seeing how it looks after poured. What kind of coloring does it have? How kind of head does it carry? My guess is that it would be lacking on both of these fronts.

That’s not to say I don’t get a kick out of the idea…I do. But this sound more novel than marketable. It’s sort of the craft beer version of “The world’s hottest hot sauce”, or “The $10,000 Sundae”. It’s purpose? To get us talking about Brew Dog.