Worth taking a lick: Wiley Roots’ beer ice cream is silky smooth and tingling with alcohol

When Wiley Roots Brewing Company develops new product, marketing gimmicks aren’t top of the game plan. But two years ago, the award-winning Greeley craft brewery saw an avalanche of approval after its successful release of Slush, Colorado’s first frozen sour slushie. Owners Kyle and Miranda Carbaugh realized they were onto something.

If it was possible to serve a kettle-soured base beer swirled with fruit purée in beer goblets from an on-site commercial-grade slushie machine, why not go the next step and serve alcoholic, soft-serve beer-infused ice cream in cones?

Wiley Roots Brewery
Wiley Roots’ frozen sour beer slushie caused a tsunami in the craft beer world. The kettle-soured based beer whirled with fruit purée, Slush, is available in to-go cans and seasonally on-site from the brewery’s commercial slushie machine. (Photo: Emily Kemme)

Their first release the last week of August 2020 featured Ice Cream Truckz: Queen Whip, a smoothie style unpasteurized pastry sour ale with puréed strawberry, caramel, marshmallow, vanilla, and milk sugar. Other flavors in the line up include Ice Cream Truckz: Camarostang with raspberry and chocolate overtones; and A Visit from the Fruit Lady in either Banana Orange Passion Fruit or Blackberry Pomegranate Raspberry.

Making soft-serve ice cream out of beer — known for its inability to freeze — involves some innovative tinkering. Or as Kyle Carbaugh put it, their local Taylor service reps had the know-how to make it happen.

“It’s kind of like when a race car driver says the tires felt a little soft in turn 3, and the tire team got some custom rubber. We aren’t ice cream machine techs, but we know what we want beer ice cream to taste and feel like,” Carbaugh said. 

He admits the ice cream machine works pretty hard for this project.

Wiley Roots Brewery beer ice cream
Wiley Roots Brewery doesn’t take gimmicks for granted. But when they feed innovation, like their newest, soft serve beer ice cream, they roll with it. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Birkin Oliver).

The prepackaged mix in a bag contains condensed ice cream product that is rehydrated with beer and added to the machine, Scott Davidson, Wiley Roots’ Marketing Manager, explains it. And while soft-serve isn’t technically a food product, the county health inspector signed off on the process. Being Covid-19 cautious, Wiley Roots staff serves the cones while wearing gloves, and as another example of the team’s innovative brainpower, converted a beer can box into a tray to serve the cones. 

The ice cream beer series are smoothie sour beers fermented with fruit and other sugars added afterwards, creating beer with unfermented sugars. Fruit is sourced locally from Wellington-based Source of Nature, co-owned by Alex Leedy. The women-owned business, open for almost five years, provides unique artisan flavors and ingredients to the craft brewing industry. 

A Visit from the Fruit Lady series features smoothie style unpasteurized fruited sour ales, with fruit sourced from Leedy’s company. “She’s our fruit source so we named the beer after her,” Davidson said.

So, what does beer ice cream taste like? It depends on the format. As ice cream, Ice Cream Truckz: Queen Whip is tart and tangy, with notes of banana, mango, raspberry, and kiwi. With an ABV of 5.2%, there’s a tickle of alcoholic vibes as the ice cream melts on your tongue; the more you lick, the less you remember there is a beer mixed in there somewhere. At 4 ounces a cone, it’s a nice little frozen treat.

The series is also available in smoothie form. Drinking Queen Whip is remarkably similar to sipping puréed cherry-strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. That’s to say it’s tastily sweet, underlaid with a hint of chewy pastry crust.

With the new Covid-19 era guidelines, pickup orders are website preorders. Pick up is offered Wednesday through Sunday. Check Wiley’s website and social media for hours. New flavors are announced on Thursday or Sunday nights. 

Wiley Roots Brewery
Wiley Roots announces new releases for pre-order on Thursday or Sunday nights. You can also place pick up orders for older releases, or sit and enjoy the sunshine on the brewery’s large, umbrella-shaded patio. (Photo: Emily Kemme)

While customers can stop in to purchase, this release structure helps spread out the pickup flow, Davidson said. You can also enjoy new releases, lick an ice cream cone, or kick back with Wiley favorites on the brewery’s giant new astroturf-lined patio, home to umbrella-shaded socially distanced picnic tables. The taproom is open and there are also drive-thru or to-go options. 

Reopening was a struggle, Davidson said. “I don’t think many people think of a brewery operation’s logistics. Our business plan changed three times during the pandemic, with skeleton crew in the middle segment. The brewery is back to being fully staffed these days to provide table service. But we took three weeks to train before reopening on June 19 for on-site consumption. We wanted to make sure the customer and tap room experience mirrored what it was before shutting down for three months.”

The next release is September 16-20. Featuring After School Snackz (peanut butter and jelly ice cream beer) and Floof Raptor, a blend of passion fruit, orange, and guava “floofed” with marshmallow, it’s a sweet something to savor in these unsteady days. 

Go try it. Take off your mask and lick a beer ice cream cone. Bask in the waning fall sunshine. Keep it simple. Keep it sweet.

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