Beer slushies are now a thing – the Sydney breweries making them for summer

Stef Constantoulas, co-founder of Philter, with his beer slushies at the brewery's new rooftop bar.
Stef Constantoulas, co-founder of Philter, with his beer slushies at the brewery's new rooftop bar. Photo: James Brickwood

A hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer, and there are few ways to serve a beer colder than in slushie form.

With summer more or less already here, Sydney bars and breweries are taking the frozen drink beyond its service station roots and making booze-spiked slushies to enjoy in the sun.

"A beer slushie is super refreshing and a really interesting space for Australian breweries to experiment, especially when it starts getting bloody hot," says Stef Constantoulas, co-founder of Philter​ Brewing in Marrickville.

Philter's sour beer and pale ale slushies.
Philter's sour beer and pale ale slushies. Photo: James Brickwood

"I made a huge beer slushie batch for our new rooftop bar last weekend, thinking it would last through to Sunday, but it went absolutely off with customers and sold out by Saturday night."

The $16 Philter slushie includes Poor Toms gin, sugar syrup, citric acid, and raspberry and passionfruit sour ale. Sour beer, broadly, has intentionally tart and fruit-forward flavour profiles that make it highly suitable for churning into a slushie.

"The idea came from the legends at One Drop Brewing in Botany," says Constantoulas. "We were at GABS​ [The Great Australasian​ Beer Spectapular​] before lockdown and One Drop was pouring sours from a slushie machine over the weekend.

One Drop's sour beer slushie is now available from the brewery's taproom and online store.
One Drop's sour beer slushie is now available from the brewery's taproom and online store. Photo: Supplied

"We were using them as a refreshing wake-up drink in the morning, albeit not quite realising how high the alcohol content was."

One Drop head brewer Nick Calder-Scholes is now widely selling his boozy sour ales specifically created for a spell in a freezer. Seasonal flavours include cherry, blackcurrant, strawberry and boysenberry, and are available from One Drop's taproom and online store.

"It's a new style we call a 'slushie sour'," says Calder-Scholes. "Essentially it's a really sour, high-alcohol, highly-fruited beer. To make a slushie you need a high salt or sugar content, and we get our sugar from the fruit.

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"You can put it in the freezer for two hours before drinking and pour it straight from the can, or you can add a larger batch into a slushie machine."

Constantoulas pushed the beer slushie boundary further this week and also created a cocktail with Philter's Troppo Tropical IPA, a pale ale featuring plenty of fruity citrus notes. With a dash of Malibu and pineapple juice, the slushie has a "resort punch" vibe, he says.

Meanwhile, small bars across the city are gearing up for their own summer of slush. PS40 has long churned the city's best slushie cocktails (the salted pina colada especially), while The Roosevelt in Potts Point slings a slush featuring citrus vodka, Aperol, peach, lemon and saffron.

About Time's Irish coffee slushie is made with cold brew-enhanced whisky, oat milk and agave syrup.
About Time's Irish coffee slushie is made with cold brew-enhanced whisky, oat milk and agave syrup. Photo: Patrick Stevenson

The Duke of Enmore is popular for its frosty "lagerita", starring tequila, triple sec and lime, and new CBD bar About Time has combined cold brew-enhanced whisky, oat milk and agave syrup to create an Irish coffee slushie.

"Next week, we'll also have a Frosty Fruits ice block-inspired slushie full of mango nectar, white rum, citrus, passionfruit and a little touch of Campari," says Jonothan Carr, About Time's head bartender and general manager.

Carr says slushie cocktails in small bars today are much more balanced and considered than the overly sweet alcoholic slushies common to cruise ships and late-'90s nightclubs.

"In the past, people may have tried to pull a sneaky one and used lots of fruit juice and very little alcohol just to make a colourful slushie cocktail that provides a sugar high but not much else," he says.

"But a good slushie cocktail requires a delicate balance of booze, sugar and dilution. In places over the world where it's sunny, slushies make a lot of sense for bartenders trying to create refreshing, balanced drinks."