Yes, beers brewed with marshmallows. This once niche ingredient has actually become a trendy adjunct, but will it stick? The industry is no stranger to fads coming and going, seemingly overnight, of course.
The craft beer geeks at Tavour, the app-based retailer that works with over 600 craft breweries across the country, tell us the marshmallow beer trend is like a Peep in the microwave: it is on the rise! Just last year, the number of beers containing marshmallows available through Tavour increased 31% over the year prior.
A big part of that persistent growth is boundary pushing breweries like Drekker Brewing Co. in North Dakota. Like many, these brewers started using mallows in small doses in select Stouts. As co-founder and president Mark Bjornstad recounts, “one day, we just decided to see how much we could possibly inject into a Sour.”
Unsurprisingly, fans of the brewery loved it and continue to love it. Tavour recently featured one such Drekker, a dessert-inspired smoothie Sour –– Chonk Mango & Marshmallow. It sold out in less than 48 hours.
Since then, Drekker has helped pioneer the marshmallow revolution, adding the adjunct to a whole host of unexpected styles. “We’ve done it in Stouts, IPAs, Seltzers, and probably a few more we’ve forgotten by now,” says Bjornstad. That laundry list, perhaps most shockingly, even includes Lagers!
While experimenting with classic styles has certainly pushed these puffed treats forward, roughly 85% of growth occurred in new-school brews that are no strangers to marshmallows. That includes adjunct heavy beers like Milkshake IPAs — which frequently feature marshmallows to replicate ice cream-like flavors — and dessert-inspired Pastry Stouts.
The Cincinnati-based Streetside Brewery is beloved by fans for its marshmallow mastery, particularly in Stouts. Speaking about the ingredient, owner and managing brewer Garrett Hickey muses, “My thought is to keep it in the styles it makes sense in. In Fruited Kettle Sours and IPAs, it makes a lot of sense. Stouts make a lot of sense.”
Tavour recently featured one Streetside Stout, Snowball Speak of the Devil, in which the brewers crafted a high-end take on a Hostess Snowball while still capturing the essence of the nostalgic flavor. It’s one of the many assets of the adjunct. As Hickey explains, “when you’re using straight mallow, you’re just getting flavor. If you’re using fluff, you’re getting body AND flavor.”
He didn’t beat around the bush about which he prefers. “I’m on team fluff.”
When asked whether he thinks the marshmallow beer trend will continue, he responded, “I think they have a place in craft beer. The marshmallow beer now is better than it was. Good mallow beers are here to stay, the old mallow beers that just gave you vanilla and a hint of creaminess are on their way out.”
That’s not to say marshmallow beers don’t face certain hurdles. “Working with marshmallows is terrible, especially at large scale,” says Drekker’s Bjornstad. “We’ve tried classic mallows, fluff, freeze dried…you can only imagine the sticky situations we’ve gotten ourselves into.”
Hickey also noted a big barrier to entry. “The people using it are the people who know how to use it.”
That includes Drekker and Streetside, both of which will continue using the sweet treat. In fact, Streetside is currently slated to release a whole slew of Speak of the Devil Stout variants, several of which feature marshmallows.
Like mallow in the mash, marshmallow beers are sticking around. While these pillowy, puffed up brews might still strike some as novelty, as more and more breweries move toward online beer delivery with services like Tavour, more craft beer fans all over America are getting the chance to sample these fluffy, flavorful delights.