Frozen Beer Is the New Frosé
Frozen rosé (aka Frosé) was the breakout summer beverage of 2016 and continues to be a big seller at bars across the country. Why shouldn’t it be? It’s pink, fruity, frosty, and perfect on a hot day. But for those who prefer their frozen drinks on the drier, grittier side, this summer has something else to offer: frozen beer.
Frozen beer is certainly nothing new on a global scale—it’s a popular drink in Thailand, where it’s called bia wun (or jelly beer), as well as in Japan. But it’s only gained popularity in the U.S. over the past few years. And now, it’s becoming a summertime staple, with bars across the country serving frothy, frozen brews.
One of the latest places to add frozen beer to the menu is the just-opened Blue Ribbon Kanpai Garden (formerly the Blue Ribbon Beer Garden), which has its own dedicated frozen beer machine—one of only a handful in the U.S. designed specifically for Kirin Ichiban by an Italian company, the machine dispenses frothy, icy, snow white beer that looks a lot like vanilla soft-serve, but tastes like cold, crisp lager. Blue Ribbon doesn’t serve full glassfuls of the stuff, but rather curls it on top of fresh pints of Kirin. “The frozen beer keeps the beer below it colder longer,” says Blue Ribbon’s beverage director, Sam Ehrlich. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chow down on that semi-solid brewski. “I would ask for a spoon, eat the frozen beer, then chug the beer below it,” he says. “We know that everyone who walks into our restaurants is bringing in baggage; our job is to help them set it aside and relax. And there’s nothing more relaxing than the coldest glass of beer in NYC.”
Here, more places across the country where you can get frozen beer, the world’s most refreshing drink.
Bia Wun (Jelly Beer)
New York, NY
One of the first spots in NYC to offer Thai-style bia wun, Uncle Boons uses a traditional bia wun machine to slushify their beer. It’s essentially a wooden barrel filled with ice, salt and bottles of Chang beer. Powered by a small motor, the barrel rocks gently from side to side, allowing the beer to reach below-freezing temperatures without actually freezing. When the bartender pops the top off a beer, the change in temperature and pressure causes the beer to freeze into an instant slurpee. Served in the bottle, which is then placed in a metal mug, the Beer Slushie is the perfect foil to a platter of the restaurant’s spicy, crunchy Heavenly Pig Ears.
Whiskey Soda Lounge
Frozen Singhas have been on the menu at Portland’s Whiskey Soda Lounge for almost a decade. Like Uncle Boons, Pok Pok employs a traditional bia wun machine, which is powered by a windshield wiper motor. The beers come in both a standard 11-ounce size and a super-sized 22-ouncer, for those rare-but-scorching hot Oregon summer days.
Japanese-Style Frozen Beer
Japan Pavilion at Epcot
Yes, even Disney World is in on the frozen beer phenomena. The Japanese Pavilion at Epcot offers frozen Kirin as a pick-me-up to weary Orlando tourists, dispensed out of the same type of machine as the one at Blue Ribbon. Epcot was the first place in the continental U.S. to serve the cult Japanese drink, paving the way for restaurants like Blue Ribbon way back in 2012.
San Francisco, CA
Kirin isn’t the only Japanese beer that can be frozen. At Bon Nene, homestyle Japanese snacks like crispy potstickers and fried chicken buns pair with Mason jars of beer topped with snowy piles of frozen Sapporo.
Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge
For those who want their frozen beer to have more of a flavorful kick, there are frozen Shandies. The excellently named Lil’ Danny Speedo’s offers a rotating selection of frosty beertails. Past flavors include grapefruit with a float of Cappelletti as well as orange juice (aka the frozen Beermosa).
Reunion Surf Bar
New York, NY
The signature Frozen Corona at this beachy, Midtown NYC Bar is exactly that: a frozen, slushie Corona spiked with fresh lime juice and a hit of citrusy triple sec. It’s like a low-ABV frozen Margarita you can drink all day long.
D&T Drive Inn
Aside from its long list of brews, this biergarten offers a refreshing frozen Shandy made simply with beer and fresh lemonade. Those who want to shake things up can order a Half & Half, which blends the frozen Shandy with frozen Sangria, for a fruity swirl of frozen booze.