If you liked Slurpees from 7-Eleven or Mr. Freeze freeze pops as a kid, you’re going to love what’s up at craft brewery patios.
It’s a new take on brain freeze as breweries, including three cool spots in London, Sarnia, and Windsor, seize on serving adult versions of slushies made with fruity hard seltzers or sour beers or both for a decidedly different way to refresh on a blisteringly hot summer’s day.
Imperial City in Sarnia introduced beer and hard seltzer slushies on July 23 with sales starting only on the patio or in the taproom. They’ll soon be available packaged for taking home.
“We picked up a two-headed slushie machine and we add beer or seltzer depending on our recipe and infuse it with fresh or concentrated fruits or purees,” said Kyle Blandford, co-founder of Imperial City.
What’s sure to be a summer seasonal in Sarnia, the seed was planted by Blandford’s trip to Japan a few years ago. There, where the summers are hot and humid like ours, he kicked back for the first time with enjoyable frozen beers, including a frozen tomato beer.
No tomato beer yet at Imperial City, though. Maybe leaving that for Leamington.
“So far, we have experimented with four flavours, including a black cherry pink lemonade seltzer and a double orange and tangerine dream Belgian wit beer slushies,” Blandford said in an email. “We plan to switch it up regularly, depending on what is in season.”
At the brewery, the slushies cost $9.25 for a large 16-ounce pub glass.
“We view them as a fun and different way to enjoy craft beer and seltzer,” he said. “Owing to their seasonal availability and the hot and humid Southwestern Ontario summers, we think this beverage choice will continue to be popular summer after summer.”
Collaborating and skill-sharing are hallmarks of craft brewing, so it comes as no surprise that a couple of other breweries were instrumental in helping Imperial City get its beer slushies launched.
Craft Heads in Windsor has been making its Slosh-Eze packaged in brilliant booze-to-go freezie-like tubes with flavours ranging from Moscow Mule to mango, peach and lemonade. It’s sold at the brewery on University Avenue West and, if supplies allow, on summer Saturdays at the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market.
Closer to my neighbourhood, Storm Stayed’s most recent beer slushie starts with a beer base of its Moonshadow, a tart Berliner Weisse, with added raspberry, purple grape and strawberry.
“We use a frozen beverage (slushie) machine,” co-owner Michael Naish said. “We start with a sour base beer, then add fruit and other flavourings before allowing the machine to turn it into slush.”
The brewery, which now sports an attractively renovated patio, has been rolling out a new slushie almost every week this summer. So far, there’s been peach; orange, pink guava and passionfruit; pineapple and jalapeño; tropical punch; and raspberry, purple grape and strawberry.
“It is a great, refreshing way to cool off in the summer heat,” co-owner Michael Naish said. “With lower alcohol, they are easy to enjoy all afternoon. Our slushies appear to have broad appeal amongst our customers. Some are fans of the base beer, others are interested in trying something different, and some are those who aren’t traditionally beer drinkers.”
It’s available to enjoy at the brewery or in takeaway pouches.
“We have been looking to do slushies for a couple of years now, but only recently got the machine,” Naish said. “Given its popularity, we hope to keep them going for many summers to come. It is definitely attracting people’s attention. We love them as a refreshing alternative in the hot afternoon.”
It’s a new world of refreshment.
NEW AND NOTED
– Imperial City has a new hard seltzer featuring juniper and cucumber that has me thinking of porches and pauses.
– Fat Tire, the popular New Belgium amber ale brewed in Canada by Steam Whistle, is now being sold in short cans. Perfect for those times when a tallboy of beer is too much.
– Bellwoods, arguably the best craft brewery in Toronto, might be famous for its adventuresome beers. But it takes a turn with a new light pale ale, Stay Classy, a 2.9 per cent alcohol offering for low-alcohol beer fans.
– There’s a new IPA at Beerlab! London. Night Bloom, 6.3 ABV, has seasonal hints of Niagara peaches. The name is a nod to flowers that bloom at night being more fragrant than those that bloom during the day.
– Did we mention Beerlab! London also dabbles in slushies? Broken Hearts Club, a peach and mango slushie, is a collaboration with Third Moon of Milton and is projected to be sold out soon.
Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.