Pop-Tart lovers, this beer’s for you.
Exton-based brewery Stolen Sun Craft Brewing & Roasting Co. this week plans to release a hazy IPA infused with about 50 pounds of the breakfast treat. Dubbed Unicorn Tarts, the beer will go on draft at the brewery’s taproom (342 Pottstown Pike Suite B), as well as some area bars, starting on Friday.
The beer was created using Unicorn Power Pop-Tarts, specifically — a limited edition cherry flavor. It could have been any variety, but Stolen Sun founder and brewmaster Jonathan Zangwill happened to find the unicorn-themed Pop-Tarts on sale during a trip to his local BJ’s, where he purchased enough of the toaster pastries to arouse suspicion from store associates.
“The lady who was checking us out just gave us the craziest look,” Zangwill says. “I just kind of said, ‘Well, they’re on sale — you might as well stock up.’”
Once he got his haul back the brewery, Zangwill started up a small batch of beer, and tossed the Tarts into Stolen Sun’s mash tun (basically a giant pot where brewers combine everything together before they ferment the beer). The resulting brew, which was hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops to “keep the fruit profile of the Pop-Tarts,” should fill about 10 kegs, making the beer a limited, experimental release.
Other breweries have also experimented with Pop-Tarts, or at least Pop-Tart flavors, in their beers. Ontario’s Dominion City Brewing Co., for example, released their own Pop-Tart-infused beer — Forbidden Fruit, brewed using Pop-Tarts and graham crackers — earlier this year. Other beers, like 21st Amendment Brewery’s Toaster Pastry India Red Ale, or Barebottle Brewing Company’s Pop Tart Monster, use various ingredients like fruits and spices to mimic Pop-Tarts’ classic, fruity flavors.
In brewing terms, Pop-Tarts are considered an “adjunct,” or an ingredient added to beer that is not among the usual components of water, hops, malted barley, and yeast. Adjuncts like Pop-Tarts supply flavor and additional fermentable sugars to the beers they’re a part of, the latter of which helps yeast create alcohol during fermentation. Others, like spices and lactose, a non-fermentable sugar used to make milkshake IPAs, just add body or flavor to the brew. Macro breweries MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch are currently involved in a legal dustup over the use of corn syrup, another adjunct, in certain brews, but in craft beer, flavorful adjuncts are increasingly welcomed.
Launched in September last year, Stolen Sun has played around with some adjuncts in the past, including the powdered breakfast drink Tang, which helps with the fermentation and flavor of their Sweet Tang gose, or coffee beans (roasted in-house) for Jumpy Jon’s Java Stout. However, Zangwill says, most of the brewery’s core offerings, like Uncle Jon’s Beer (a classic IPA) or New Exton IPA (a hazy, New England-style IPA), are “clean, drinkable, highly hopped beers.”
“We play around every now and then, so [Unicorn Tarts] is something that just adds to our collection,” he says. “We have our core lineup, and then we have beers we just want to have fun with. This was a beer just to have a fun day, pretty much.”
Drinkers, Zangwill says, should find the tropical flavors typical of hazy IPAs in Unicorn Tarts. But what they won’t find is bits of Pop-Tarts in the brew, thanks to the way in which the beer was made, as well as Stolen Sun’s use of a centrifuge, which allows the brewery to “spin the beer down” and pull out particulate. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean Pop-Tarts won’t be present.