Beer Frozen Over

Beer slurpies are all the rage this summer.

At Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Oregon, beer slushies called Crushies (pictured) feature the brewery’s Crush series of sour ales and flavors such as cucumber, guava, and lemon.
At Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Oregon, beer slushies called Crushies (pictured) feature the brewery’s Crush series of sour ales and flavors such as cucumber, guava, and lemon.

On an exceptionally hot day last summer, the brewers at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Bend, Oregon set out to produce the most refreshing drink possible. Their result—Crushie, an adult slushie-style frozen drink featuring 10 Barrel’s popular Crush series of sour ales—emerged as one of the company’s top sellers of the season. This year, all of 10 Barrel’s pub locations are offering a variety of Crushies, made in traditional slushie machines and supplemented with simple syrup and citric acid, served in chilled 12-ounce snifters ($7) and garnished with a drink umbrella.

Indeed, beer-based slushies emerged as popular taproom offerings around the country last year, and the excitement is expected to continue. “During the hottest days of summer, nothing really beats an ice-cold beer, but the challenge is keeping it cold,” says 10 Barrel marketing director Andy Goggins. “That’s where beer slushies come in.” Crushies are available in flavors such as cucumber, lemon, strawberry, and guava. “They pack the punch and tartness of a cocktail, but still have the sessionable abv of a beer,” Goggins notes.

10 Barrel, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev), isn’t the only brewer offering adult versions of the convenience store staple. Reve Brewing of Atlantic Beach, Florida, has produced its Slushees year-round since opening its doors nearly two years ago. “We love the idea of hot Florida weather and beer slushies,” says Reve co-owner and brewer Eric Luman. The company’s sour beer- and stout-based Slushees are available in a range of flavors—such as grape and chocolate—and are served in 12-ounce glasses ($8). Customer response has been favorable. “We sell out almost every day,” Luman says.

Wild Ride Brewing has put its own spin on beer slushies, serving up some of its draft brews topped off with an “iceberg” of slushie mix. “The slushie floats on top of the beer to keep it cold,” says Brian Mitchell, co-owner and general manager of the Redmond, Oregon brewery. “As the slushie begins to melt, it releases an addition of flavor into the beer, similar to a Radler.” Wild Ride’s most popular slushie is the Ice Cold Chillin’—a 17-ounce pour of the brewery’s Cold Chillin’ Vanilla cream ale, topped with 3 ounces of orange slushie from the taproom’s slushie machine, and served in a 20-ounce Pilsner glass ($6). “It’s the adult version of an orange Creamsicle,” Mitchell says of the drink’s flavor profile.

Some major beer marketers are also in the game. Heineken USA touts the Dos-A-Rita for on-premise accounts—basically a frozen Margarita, topped with an upside-down bottle of Dos Equis lager. This summer, A-B InBev is bringing that fun to the off-premise with Freeze-a-Rita Frozen Margarita Icicles. Available in two flavors—Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita—the 2-ounce popsicles are 55 calories and 8% abv. The icicles, sold at room temperature at Walmart and Kroger stores nationally, are packaged in 12-unit variety packs. Consumers freeze them on their own. “Ritas are known for bold flavors and refreshment on hot days,” says Lana Kouznetsov, vice president of the Beyond Beer business unit at A-B InBev. “So it felt obvious that Ritas would work excellently in a frozen popsicle format.”

The Rutter’s convenience store chain in Pennsylvania has also jumped on the frozen beer bandwagon. Its Spiked Slushies are available year-round in 37 Keystone State stores in 8-16 flavors, depending upon the location. The malt beverage-based Spiked Slushies, made in the stores’ slushie machines, are served in both 20-ounce plastic cups with sealed lids ($5) and one-gallon party bags ($25). “We’re always looking at new opportunities,” says Chris Hartman, director of fuels, forecourt, and advertising at Rutter’s Cos. The slushies, first tested in 2018 and expanded last year, “continue to grow with each new store where we add them,” he notes.

While Reve’s Luman and Wild Ride’s Mitchell note that freezing time must be factored in to the prep of the slushies, the biggest challenge to the drinks seems to be keeping up with demand. “The trick is keeping the machine full,” says 10 Barrel’s Goggins. And Luman adds that while beer slushies will never be a major part of Reve Brewing’s business, customer response has been very rewarding. “It’s a fun experience for those who enjoy frozen drinks,” he says.