Natural Ice is a strong, sweet American adjunct lager. It is ice-brewed, a unique brewing process used by Anheuser-Busch to give this beer its distinctive flavor profile. It is popular among younger drinkers for its low price point and high alcohol content.
Natural Ice is a pale, powerful American adjunct lager. It has a noticeably sweet, sugary flavor profile and is best enjoyed cold. Its main selling point is its relatively high alcohol content compared to other lagers. Natural Ice is aimed at drinkers looking to “take things up a notch when the sun goes down”.
Natural Ice is an ice beer produced under Anheuser-Busch’s Natural brand. If you haven’t tried Natural Ice and you’re wondering what it’s like to enjoy one of these potent brews, look no further. In this article, we’ll take you on a tasting tour of this popular American lager. We’ll look at Natural Ice’s flavor, smell, appearance, and the unique brewing process that contributes to the “Natty Ice” drinking experience.
Any serious beer drinker will tell you that their chief consideration for a brew is flavor. Natural Ice follows the flavor profile of its parent beer, Natural Light, but aims to be even easier to drink and more refreshing. Considering that Natural Light is one of the cleanest, crispest American beers, Natural Ice being even more so is somewhat remarkable.
The first sip of Natural Ice is smooth, refreshing, and quite sweet for the style. Its slightly sugary grain character and crisp taste are likely why this beer is so popular among younger, more inexperienced drinkers. Natural Ice has a subtly malty flavor profile, with minimal bitterness and very little by way of hop character. There are no citrus or floral notes to Natural Ice, just a slightly sugary malt flavor. As you’d expect from an American adjunct lager, Natural Ice has a mild, clean flavor palate with a polite, smooth finish.
As you finish your first sip of Natural Ice, its dry finish refuses to stick around, leaving next to no residual sweetness. Any aftertaste lingers only a few seconds, with a touch of metallic tang for just a moment. Overall, this beer is crisp, clean, and very easy to drink.
It’s easiest to compare the Natural Ice drinking experience with a mainstream blockbuster comedy film. The beer is inoffensive, enjoyable, and not meant to be contemplated, analyzed, or taken too seriously. Natural Ice is a very easy-drinking beer with an easygoing, mild character.
It’s easy to imagine enjoying a few Natural Ices at an outdoor barbecue with a few good friends, enjoying a slight buzz as the sun goes down on a warm summer’s day. Natural Light has a clean enough taste that it’s very easy to drink more than one in a single sitting.
Interestingly, considering Natural Ice’s higher ABV compared with other American adjunct lagers, it does not have any overt alcohol or acetone notes in its flavor profile. Unlike other “fortified” beers with higher than usual ABV, Natural Ice’s ice brewing process does not add alcohol to the beer. Rather, it simply removes other elements to heighten the amount of alcohol in the final product.
Natural Ice has a smooth, low amount of carbonation. It feels slick and thin on the tongue, without much body, with just enough fizz to dance on the tongue. The light body and relaxing carbonation of this beer are very much in keeping with the American adjunct style. Overall, this beer has a pleasant, inoffensive mouthfeel without any of the cloying character that its sweet palate might otherwise imply.
Natural Light’s aroma is dominated, as expected, by sweet malty, grainy notes. It smells a bit like a fresh bowl of cornflakes, with enough grainy sweetness to lend some character and assertion to the beer. There’s a touch of hoppy “funk” on the nose, but not enough to really dominate or for a drinker to notice unless they were really examining the beer’s aroma.
As Natural Ice warms up, however, a distinct metallic alcohol tang comes through the palate. This is likely due to the beer’s higher alcohol content compared with other lagers and begins to overpower the crisp, clean palate that Natural Ice has at colder temperatures. It’s best to enjoy Natural Ice straight out of the refrigerator or your cooler.
Natural Ice, poured into a glass, has the pale, clear yellow color of a classic American adjunct lager. The beer has a surprisingly hefty amount of white head at first, but this quickly fizzles out. Some small bubbles bounce around the glass. Natural Ice looks great in a glass when sitting outside in direct sunlight, with plenty of clarity in the pale golden body of the beer.
Natural Ice’s packaging leans heavily into the ice beer branding. With black, blue, and silver accents, this beer’s packaging is fairly overt in letting you know that this is an ice beer. Its black-and-blue color scheme puts one in mind of late nights and nightclubs, which is likely what Anheuser-Busch was going for when developing this color scheme.
Natural Ice Alcohol Percentage and Calories
Natural Ice’s major selling point is its relatively high ABV compared with other American adjunct lagers. With an ABV of 5.9%, “Natty Ice” is one of the strongest lagers on the market. This increase in alcohol percentage, however, is not reflected in its calorie content, which is still pretty standard for the style at 135 calories per 12oz serving. Natty Ice has 4.2 grams of carbs per serving.
Why Does Natural Ice Taste Like This?
Natural Ice was first launched in 1995. It was the first mass-market ice beer produced by American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch as part of the Natural brand. The Natural brand is popular among younger drinkers, and Natural Ice was clearly aimed at this market.
Anheuser-Busch cites an “exclusive ice-brewing process” whereby the beer is taken to a temperature below freezing, allowing ice crystals to form in the beer itself. The formation of ice crystals is what gives Natural Ice its smooth, refreshing taste.
Ice beer is a style of beer that includes fractional freezing during the brewing process, allowing the beer to feature higher alcohol content. The reason for this is that ethanol, responsible for beer’s alcohol levels, has a lower freezing point than water. When beer is subjected to the right temperature, the water in the beer will freeze, but the ethanol will not. When the frozen water, in the form of ice crystals, is removed, the resulting beer has a higher alcohol percentage.
Originally, ice beer was made by leaving beer barrels outdoors in winter, allowing them to partially freeze before removing the ice. Major brewers in the Americas, notably Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors, caught on in the early 1990s and set about launching ice beer brands of their own.
Labatt, which was later purchased by Anheuser-Busch, used an innovative fractional freezing process to produce their ice beer. In short, this involved rapidly cooling the beer after wort separation to form minuscule ice crystals and adding this cooled beer to a “beer slurry”. The beer would then be extracted from this mixture and filtered, resulting in a clear, balanced beer.
While Anheuser-Busch has not confirmed if they use Labatt’s process, it is likely that their ice brewing process is similar or derived from Labatt’s since Anheuser-Busch’s acquisition of Labatt.
Natural Ice is made using a blend of American and imported hops, with a combination of malt and corn.
Most of Natural Ice’s flavor profile comes from this combination of malt and corn and the ice brewing process.
What Do Other People Think?
It’s always valuable to see how others view your favorite brew. In the below table, we examined various Natural Ice reviews from across the internet. We weighted these reviews to give a score out of ten and determined an average score for Natural Ice based on other drinkers’ opinions.
As you can see, Natural Ice is quite poorly rated across the board, with the exception of the younger drinkers at Drizly. Most drinkers complained of Natural Ice’s lack of flavor and reputation as a “college beer” and disliked its adherence to the American Adjunct Lager style.
Those who enjoyed Natural Ice, however, praised its high ABV and easy drinking character. Most reviews referenced its reputation as a “college beer”, with one positive review referring to it as a “college essential,” like textbooks.
Here’s what one Beeradvocate reviewer had to say about their Natural Ice:
“Natty ice!! Yes even anheuser busch on there website now refers to natural ice as Natty Ice. It’s a very budget friendly bottom tank beer that, when drank ice cold, is good. It’s not meant to be in any class of craft brews, but it does stand on par with higher priced American Adjunts of higher prices. All in all for a ICE beer if drank cold like mentioned above it’s one of the best ice beers to drink”Source