A welcome alternative to familiar spirits-based frozen cocktails, the beer slushie, which has endless flavor opportunities, provides a touch of fizz (the blending beats out most of the carbonation) and a distinctive kick, offering a refreshing spin on ice-blended classics like the daiquiri or piña colada.
“Beer is so different because it has hops in it,” says Kip Barnes, managing partner and brewer for Los Angeles Ale Works, the Hawthorne-based brewery which has elevated the beer slushie to new heights. Over the last year, he has been busy perfecting the recipes for his brewery’s diverse frozen beer concoctions.
“It’s been a lot of research,” admits Barnes, who has become familiar with the challenges of freezing beer. “All of the hops that are in there that are in suspension with the yeast, they all just turn into super crazy bitterness.”
The key to crafting a successful beer slushie, according to Barnes, is finding a way to balance that bitter bite with added sweetness and acidity. He takes advantage of the brewery’s wide-ranging tap list, matching each beer’s unique flavor profile with a variety of ingredients including locally sourced fresh fruit, agave syrup, and cold brew coffee.
Barnes, who initially blended his slushies with a Vitamix one small batch at a time, was compelled to purchase a full-fledged slushie machine for the brewery in order to keep up with demand which continues to build via Instagram and good old-fashioned word of mouth.
Last month, the Blümerita—Los Angeles Ale Works’ riff on a frozen margarita that substitutes the brewery’s Blüme Berliner Weisse for tequila—was the breakout hit amongst hundreds of beers served at the L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Festival. “We went through about 10 gallons of the [Blümerita] which is crazy,” says Barnes, who plans to offer beer slushies on weekends throughout the summer at the Los Angeles Ale Works taproom.
While Barnes tends to favor Berliner Weisse, which is low in hops and high in acidity, as the anchor to his slushies, he’s also found success working with beers that are more hop-forward. Recently, he served a chili mango-inspired slushie featuring Meseeks Joose, Los Angeles Ale Works’ hazy double IPA. The result was a tropical umami explosion of sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter refreshment that offered the perfect antidote to the summer heat. It’s the type of drink you would enjoy slurping out of a three-foot novelty glass while walking along the Vegas Strip.
The beer world has seen plenty of fads come and go (Black IPAs, we hardly knew ye) but Barnes is convinced that the slushie is here to stay. “If it was just a gimmick I’d probably just do it once at a party and that would be it,” he says. “But because they’re so good and people like them so much, they do come back.”
As for the beer purists who scoff at a frozen beer mug, let alone frozen beer, Barnes isn’t concerned.
“Things like this…bring a whole new demographic into beer,” he says. “There are so many different beer drinkers out there and it’s fun to try beers in different ways.”
MeSeeks Joose Beer Slushie
– 64 oz. Los Angeles Ale Works MeSeeks Joose (if unavailable, you can substitute another hazy double IPA)
– 4 oz. pineapple juice
– 4 oz. orange juice
– 1 oz. simple syrup
– Chamoy sauce
- Freeze 32 oz. MeSeeks Joose in a covered, freezer-safe container or ice cube trays overnight.
- Add 32 oz. frozen MeSeeks Joose, 32 o.z cold MeSeeks Joose, pineapple juice, orange juice, and simple syrup to a blender.
- Pulse to break up frozen beer and gradually increase blender speed until smooth.
- Serve in chamoy and Tajin rimmed glasses.
Related Video: How to Make a Sweet Tea and Vodka Slushie
Header image courtesy of Sarah Gardner.