Long gone are the days when booze stopped at the martini glass’s edge. These days, almost any foodstuff can clock in with an ABV: There’s spiked coffee, hard kombucha and adult candies, just to name a few.
Which brings us to the line of Truly ice creams and sorbets, the frozen, scoopable versions of the Truly brand’s lemonade-flavored hard seltzers. (Truly is produced by Boston Beer, and has played second-fiddle to the market-dominating White Claw brand.) Produced this summer in partnership with Tipsy Scoop — which makes all manner of ice creams with a buzz — the treats are being billed as the logical extension of our collective obsession with hard seltzer.
The fizzy, low-calorie water isn’t just a drink, after all, it’s a lifestyle, a breezy, good-times party served up (preferably poolside) in a slender, Instagrammable can. Last year saw “Hard Seltzer Summer,” governed by the motto “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws.”
There’s all manner of seltzer-brand merch. You can buy Truly advent calendars. Earlier this summer, the chain Blaze Pizza added a splash of White Claw to its crusts. And now, not even America’s favorite summer treat is safe. What should we make of this hard-seltzer creep?
To find out, we ordered the company’s variety pack, whose flavors mirror each of the Truly lemonade flavors. Two versions, mango and strawberry, come in sorbet form, while the classic lemon and black cherry lemonades flavor ice creams.
Our overall verdict? Well … they prove the adage that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The thing is, these sorbets and ice creams are fine, really. They’re fine. They’re okay.
But here we are, living in the Golden Age of Delicious Ice Cream! Most of us have options that are better than meh. Freezer cases in even many mainstream grocery stores are chockablock with interesting flavors and quality scoops. Artisanal makers abound. So why would you pay $48 plus shipping for four pints of forgettable stuff?
Maybe for the buzz? Each Truly variety claims to have “up to” 5 percent ABV, which is less than the alcohol level in the drinkable version (Truly lemonades are 6 percent). If the ice cream is getting its booze content solely from the seltzer, there’s probably not much of the malt liquor-spiked seltzer in there. After all, there’s only so much water you can put in a sorbet or ice cream before it’s just an ice block.
And so it might take more ice cream or sorbet than a person would be willing to consume before feeling even a tingle. (I downed 6 ounces or so of the four flavors combined, and I didn’t feel a thing.) Without the promise of a pleasant tipsiness, the desserts are hard to justify.
The sorbets were overly sweet; the strawberry is vaguely medicinal, and mango only halfheartedly suggests the tropics. The ice creams are a little better, particularly the lemon, which feels like a novelty, since citrus flavors typically don’t get the creamy treatment.
In an effort to salvage things, I followed the suggestion on the label to enjoy the frozen treats alongside a Truly lemonade beverage. This definitely didn’t improve things. Although I don’t mind Truly’s regular seltzer, I find the lemonade range undrinkable; to keep the calorie count low, the brand jacks up the stevia to mouth-coatingly-sweet levels.
Desperate, I tried making floats out of different combinations. Lemon ice cream in the black cherry lemonade? Mango sorbet in the mango lemonade? It was all terrible. I made like Elsa in “Frozen” and decided to let it go — as in, abandon this experiment.
My brush with Truly ice creams didn’t leave me pleasantly buzzed. Instead, I was merely confused. Who, exactly, is this for? Not for ice cream purists, obviously. Or for the calorie-watching drinkers who guzzle the seltzer, post-Crossfit (the ice creams contain both cream and dextrose). So maybe just for the brand enthusiasts?
That is, if you’re looking for the target customer, it’s probably that guy across the patio in the “Unruly Drinking Truly” tank top.
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