May 31 2019 – Simon Yarwood
By Charlotte Knowlson
I sometimes imagine that, now I'm an adult, I'm above being drawn-in by bright colours, childish gimmicks and frivolity when it comes to craft beer. And yet... there is something irresistibly gleeful about the thought of a slushie made of beer. And it's something we're seeing more and more, with craft beer bars installing slushie machines and topping beers with a helical crown of soft serve. While craft beer traditionalists might look on this trend with a certain degree of disdain, we welcome anything that adds an extra dash of creativity, fun and frivolity to the craft beer scene.
We decided we wanted a slice of the fun, and experimented with our own beer slushies. Here's what we found, with a few tips for those of you who might want to try this at home.
If you're fancy enough to have a slushie machine at home, then you can probably just chuck your beer in and wait for it to freeze up! If you're not that fancy (like us), grab an ice cube tray, or even a spare take-away container, and pour in about 3/4 of your beer. Pop the rest back in the fridge until you're ready to blend it up later. This is because you tend to lose carbonation when you freeze your beer. Reserving a little to add in at the end helps revive the fizz, as well as giving a fresh flavour boost. When the beer is almost frozen, take it out and dump it into a blender or smoothie-maker. Don't wait until it's totally frozen. When we did this, it turned out a little gritty and watery, for some reason. We got it out when it was almost solid all the way through, with flaky-looking ice crystals. Pulse it in the blender until smooth, which should only take a few seconds. If you're using any fruit juice, syrup or puree, throw this in before blending. Once it's as smooth as you want it, pour in the beer you reserved at the beginning, stirring to mix. Pour into your favourite beer glass, add a cocktail umbrella or a plastic flamingo, and you're ready to go.
Which beer style is best?
We tried a few different styles to see which came out on top, and the fruited sour won, hands down. Try Dugges' Tutti Frutti, Amundsen's Lush, Tiny Rebel's Frambuzi or Two Roads Passionfruit Gose. The sour fruitiness gives a fantastic sherbet-y character which is reminiscent of the slush puppies you had as a kid, while the absence of hoppy bitterness means there is no unpleasant bitter bite. We discovered the opposite of this when trying to make an IPA slush; the fruity hop flavours diminished when frozen, leaving a strong and unbalanced bitterness. If you do want to experiment with a more hoppy beer, we'd recommend maybe using a New England IPA with low or no bitterness. Alternatively, you may have to add a decent glug of sugar syrup, fruit juice or fruit puree to sweeten it up. We threw a bit of pineapple in which did help to balance the bitterness a little. Adding pureed fruit also gave a great smoothie-like texture and a fruity boost, so we threw this into the Two Roads Passionfruit Gose slushie, too.
If you prefer a darker beer, find a sweet, chocolatey milk stout. We'd recommend something like Tiny Rebel's Stay Puft Marshmallow Porter, Milkshake by Wiper and True or Stone's Xocoveza. For extra levels of decadence, dump in a good quantity of toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream when you blend it up. It becomes a creamy and delicious beer-slushie-ice-cream-float-milkshake hybrid.
It becomes more difficult to detect flavours at cooler temperatures. Have you ever noticed that ice cream is suddenly way more sickly once melted? This is because it's necessary to pack mores sweetness and flavourings in so you can still detect them at a colder temperature. This means that you will lose some of the flavour of your beer when you freeze it. As a result, we would avoid making slushes with beers that have subtle flavours, such as lagers. Adding in fruit purees, juices and syrups helps to boost flavours and give smoother texture.
If you try your own beer slushes at home, we'd love to see the results! Share pictures on our social media.