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May 7, 2021

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Beer slushies the new summer sipper at Fortside Brewing in Vancouver

‘It’s not a wine, not a seltzer’

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Fortside Brewing Co. recently added a slushie machine to its taproom. Island Dreamin', left, and Rose Gone Wild are the icy brews currently on offer; Pink Lemonade beer is expected to join the lineup soon.
Fortside Brewing Co. recently added a slushie machine to its taproom. Island Dreamin', left, and Rose Gone Wild are the icy brews currently on offer; Pink Lemonade beer is expected to join the lineup soon. (Rachel Pinsky) Photo Gallery

Fortside Brewing Co. recently added a slushie machine — a very Vancouver response to the frosé trend popular in other cities for the past several summers. Vancouver’s waterfront may be filled with a multitude of wine-tasting rooms, but locals know that this is essentially a beer town. A beer slushie feels like the right thing to sip this summer.

“It tastes better than it sounds,” Fortside co-owner Mike DiFabio said. “We’re not doing IPAs and stouts in there. We’re using refreshing fruity beer.”

The machine has a two-beer capacity, with Rosé Gone Wild and Island Dreamin’ currently flowing at Fortside’s tasting room (2200 N.E. Andresen Road; 360-524-4692).

Rosé Gone Wild is made with a combination of pilsner malt and cabernet grapes.

“It’s not a wine, not a seltzer, mostly a beer,” DiFabio said.

The beer tests way below the threshold to qualify as gluten-free, according to DiFabio. In addition, each can has only 2.9 grams of carbohydrates and 118 calories. The light flavor, fruitiness and effervescence appeal to hard seltzer drinkers.

Island Dreamin’ is a fruited sour with passionfruit, mango and coconut flavors. The supply of Island Dreamin’ is expected to run out fairly soon, to be replaced by Pink Lemonade beer, flavored with lemons and raspberries.

A good beer slushie depends on the settings of the slushie machine, the size of the straw and the beer running through the machine. Fortside aced all three.

The beer had a fluffy, icy consistency — not too frozen. The ice had just enough texture to play nicely on the tongue, but it wasn’t so frozen that it couldn’t be sucked through a straw.

The hot pink plastic straws were firm with a medium diameter somewhere between a regular soda straw and a fat boba straw. Getting the frozen beer through the straw required a normal amount of sucking, and it flowed at a good rate.

Island Dreamin’ started out with a bit of fruit and a bit of bitterness, but the bitter flavors mellowed as it melted, bringing out more mango flavor and scent. Rosé Gone Wild tasted like it was specially formulated to be frozen. The cabernet grape flavor shined in slushie form.

A beer slushie’s freeze is fleeting. After the slushie melts, the drinker is confronted with a cold, slightly watered-down beer. Whether to set aside the straw or not is a personal dilemma that beer slushie drinkers must decide for themselves.

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