A cool alternative to spirited classics like the daiquiri and piña colada, beer slushies are a refreshing spin on boozy ice-blended beverages. Beyond the endless flavor opportunities, it provides a touch of fizz (the blending beats out most of the carbonation) and a distinctive kick to your summer frozen cocktail repertoire.
“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 began churning out slushies in 2017, and over the ensuing years Barnes has become a master of the craft.
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“It’s been a lot of research,” admits Barnes, who is well-versed in the challenge 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 beer slushie success, 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 which covers the spectrum from light to dark, 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 thanks to Instagram (the beverages are particularly photogenic) and good old-fashioned word of mouth.
Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, $349.95 from Sur La Table
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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. One of his signature blends is a chili mango slushie (inspired by the popular Mexican candy combo) featuring Meseeks Joose, the brewery’s celebrated hazy double IPA. The result is a tropical umami explosion of sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter refreshment that offers the perfect antidote to the summer heat.
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 [the slushie] 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.”
Chili Mango Beer Slushie
- 64 ounces hazy double IPA (like Los Angeles Ale Works MeSeeks Joose)
- 4 ounces pineapple juice
- 4 ounces orange juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- Chamoy sauce
- Freeze 32 ounces of beer in a covered, freezer-safe container or ice cube trays overnight.
- Add 32 ounces frozen beer, 32 ounces cold beer, 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.
More Beer Slushies & Frozen Beer Desserts
Of course, one frozen beer option just isn’t enough for what’s poised to be a particularly long summer. Here are a few more recipes, including slushies, popsicles, and milkshakes made with suds you’ll want to give a whirl.
Tired of the same old frozen margarita? Just bring beer to the mix. This hopped-up version of the South of the Border standard uses Mexican lager for added frothiness. Get the Frozen Beergaritas recipe.
Jackie Dodd (a.k.a. The Beeroness) bridges the gap between slushie and shake. Instead of ice, she uses raspberry sorbet for the drink’s frozen anchor to pair with fresh peach for a tried and true fruity combo. Along with a full serving of IPA, a shot of either gold tequila or dark rum is tossed in for added oomph. Get the Raspberry Peach IPA Slushie recipe.
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A pint (or two) of vanilla ice cream joins forces with a pint of Guinness for this stout shake. Finish with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and indulge on St. Patrick’s Day or whenever the weather’s warm. Get our Guinness Milkshakes recipe.
Shake up your summer with a creamy, frozen boilermaker. For the beer, seek out a stout of the golden or milk variety. Get our Bourbon Stout Milkshake recipe.
Related Reading: 13 Reasons to Keep a Bottle of Bourbon in Your Kitchen
Liz from Floating Kitchen is known for her popsicle prowess, particularly when a bit of alcohol joins the frozen fun. Case in point: this blend of fresh berries and your favorite fruity beer on a stick. The addition of rosemary simple syrup adds a welcome herbal touch. Get the Berry-Beer Popsicles recipe.
Header image courtesy of Sarah Gardner