Friday Beer – Shackleton Antarctic Icebreaker Kolsch

Brace yourselves folks. This weeks write up is a bit of a read. This may have been our mistake from the start. The problem is when you ask a brewer to write 300-350 about their beer, they casually throw caution to the wind and send 650. We thought about cutting it down but truth be told we quite enjoyed the read, and we hope you do too. So, straight from the horses mouth comes a more grandiose take on their Kolsch, it’s the Shackleton Antarctic Icebreaker Kolsch.

What the Project is about:

Shackleton Brewing Company stands for exploration and innovation. It is the pairing of scientific exploration and creative innovation that drives the brand. We are passionate about exploring the untouched world of Antarctica, and how better than to use science and beer as a platform to express this. With the philosophy that brewing is both science and an art, we have recreated our beloved Kölsch using naturally formed Antarctic sea ice cores as the primary ingredient. This beer project came as an idea between two brewers Steve (Shackleton Brewing Company) & Jan (Dematec/Bevplus). Steve is as mad about Antarctica as Jan is about beer. This pairing meant that they went to extreme lengths to brew a beer made distinctly from Antarctic water and sustainable ingredients. The goal, one may ask, is to create something unique and having an impact. We aim to encourage science and sustainability through a carefully crafted product that everybody will enjoy.

How the Shackleton Antarctic Icebreaker Kolsch was made:

We started by gathering the ice cores from the UCT Oceanography laboratories and swiftly transporting them to the brewery. It was here that we melted them down and immediately sent the water for testing. The results were fascinating. Understanding that the water needed treatment, we were surprised to see how saline the cores actually were.

A reverse osmosis process brought the water to a base where we were able to build and profile to a quality that we were confident would work for our recipe. Careful attention to detail was needed when profiling the water. We need the beer to be clean and crisp without losing the essential flavours created by the Kölsch yeast.

Using organic malt supplied by Wyermann Malting and Bevplus, we mashed in with the Antarctic ice water. The addition of essential salts and minerals were added to profile the Antarctic sea ice water. This was followed by a vigorous boil and a hearty hopping schedule for a crisp/bitter finish. Having a goal of producing a clean but flavoursome Kölsch, we fermented and dry hopped the beer. The dry hopped Smaragd hops, supplied by Yakima Chief Hops, added spicy and floral notes to the beer.

The Taste of Science and Sustainability:

  • Appearance- Brilliant clear gold to light gold appearance
  • Aroma – Low malt aroma, slight sweet grain character. Very clean and fresh yeast aroma
  • Flavour – Low to medium bitterness, refreshing with high spicy hop presence. Dry hopped with Smaragd Hops. Overall a clean, crisp refreshing German Lager hybrid.
  • ABV – 4,5% alc

We partnered with the best:
In our opinion, we have created a beer that exemplifies the word ‘Sustainability’. The Shackleton Antarctic Icebreaker Kolsch and the project speaks for itself…proudly innovative, sustainable and conscious. With this in mind we’d like to thank our partners involved in the project:

  • Dematech/Bevplus – Our expert brewing and packaging partners
  • UCT Oceanography – For the efforts to get us the ice cores (each one collected by hand) all the way from Antarctica
  • Antarctic Legacy – Providing the project with information and context to the science research in the most remote of regions.
  • SEAmester – A programme that is aimed at building capacity within the marine sciences by coordinating cross‐disciplinary research projects through a highly innovative programme. This programme encourages young scientists in the disciplines of Ocean and Antarctic related studies. Shackleton Brewing Company has committed to donating 10% of all bottles sold toward this programme.


  • 750ml champagne bottle – brown
  • Champaign cork and gold wire.
  • Eco-friendly textures, glue and foiling on the bottle label
  • The bottle itself is wrapped in nautical designed newspaper/tissue print
  • The bottle sits in a wooden box on a bed of finely cut straw, alongside an information sheet describing the story about the brands involved
  • A vile of the pure Antarctic ice water in a hessian sack
  • The wooden box is held shut with leather strap made from offcuts, locally sourced.


  • From the brewery in Salt River LINK
  • Online Here (both national and international orders)

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