There’s something magical about adding powdered drink mixes to water—in a matter of moments, an ordinary pitcher of water becomes artificial lemonade or zero-calorie fruit punch (lookin’ at you, Crystal Light). The newest addition to the powdered beverage market? Craft beer.
To Øl brewery in Denmark has figured out a way to freeze-dry beer, removing the liquid elements from the drink without affecting the flavor. What’s left? Bittering compounds, sugar and aromatic elements. The two brewers, Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther, have created four different varieties of this powdered, freeze-dried beer: a fruity IPA, a dry pilsner, a stout with coffee and a hoppy IPA.
They worked with a German-based food and energy group to create the powder, blending technology with To Øl’s award-winning brews. They wanted to create a way to get quality beer to poorly stocked places…think mountain summits, dry picnics and the post-apocalyptic world. The Copenhagen brewery was ranked the 9th best internationally in 2014, so we’re expecting these beers to be top notch.
Here’s the catch: you need to add more than water to the powder. The freeze-drying removes the alcohol and carbonation, so unless you’re interested in drinking beer-flavored water (actually sounds kind of interesting), you need to add sparkling water and alcohol. Or if you’re stuck as DD, skip the alcohol and get the craft beer flavor you’re craving.
The brainiac brewers behind powdered beer don’t see this as a bad thing—instead, it’s simply an opportunity to be creative. They recommend adding bourbon, rum, or cognac to that coffee-flecked stout, or mixing a smoky mezcal into the IPA, which has notes of tropical fruit. On their website, they write that they love “to create new and challenging beers and play with new ingredients.” I don’t think it gets more creative than instant craft beer!
Powdered alcohol isn’t new to the market—we first saw it with “Palcohol,” which was approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in 2014, and after some confusion, released four varieties to the market. Several states have moved to ban Palcohol out of concern for potential abuse by underage drinkers. This brand focuses on hard liquor and mixed drinks, like to-go pouches of margaritas. Since To Øl’s powdered product doesn’t actually contain alcohol, getting it in stores should theoretically be pretty uncomplicated.
Unfortunately, To Øl’s freeze-dried beer isn’t ready for market yet—it’s quite expensive to produce, and Jensen and Gynther are hoping to figure out a way to maintain the carbonation and alcohol content. They’re still figuring out how to package the product, but wanted to get everyone buzzing before the powder hits shelves (hopefully) soon.