Nothing signals summer quite like the jingle of the ice cream truck. And of all the ice-cold treats it carries, there’s no seasonal stalwart quite like the rocket-shaped Bomb Pop. Long, thin and vaguely patriotic, its cherry, lime, and blue raspberry flavors are the stuff of childhood dreams, right alongside sandlot home runs and kissing Wendy Peffercorn.
Rightly so, beverage makers have begun to tap into that nostalgia. Breweries around the country have been releasing gose, Berliner Weiss, kettle sours and more beers inspired by the treat, whether that means borrowing from its flavor profile or using familiar iced imagery on cans.
Many of these styles offer a tart flavor profile that plays well with the popsicles’ fruity nature, offering a balance on the palate.
“Finding the right balance of all of the sweet and tart flavors is important,” says Alex Flores, Director of Brewing Operations at New Orleans’s Urban South, whose Rocket Pop Gose started as a taproom release and is now a summer seasonal beer. “You don’t want the beer to be too cloying, so the addition of lime and the acidity of the base beer really help to balance out the sweetness of the blue raspberry.”
Some breweries use actual popsicles in the brewing water to give that extra kick of flavor and color. A scroll through the social media accounts of breweries producing these ales shows beer with hues of pink and red, lively green and electric blue.
“We pulled a barrel of our base Berliner Weiss and [brewer] Jenna Munoz melted down several boxes of Bomb Pops. They are great as a popsicle, but they weren’t enough for beer,” says Chris Myers the vice president and co-founder of Crane Brewing Company in Raytown, Missouri. “They blended into a green color and didn’t pop as much as we liked, so we also added raspberry, cherry and lime juice. I think it turned out a lot fruitier and brighter than the beloved popsicle.” Myers says the beer was a big hit the first year it was introduced.
Not surprisingly, Bomb Pop flavors have also landed in the hard seltzer space. Last year Quirk, the hard seltzer brand from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri, released a Raspberry Rocket Pop offering.
“We were reminiscing on how tasty Bomb Pops are in the heat of the summer, and the idea came during an innovation brainstorm meeting,” said Boulevard Brewing spokeswoman Julie Weeks. “Our marketing team worked closely with our brewmaster at the time, Steven Pauwels, and our lab team to recreate that flavor of summer. We wanted to stay true to the real fruit aspect of Quirk and the raspberry addition made it a clear winner from our tasting panel.”
The only thing the brewery didn’t count on was its popularity. In 2022, Raspberry Rocket Pop was Boulevard Brewery’s top-selling hard seltzer item in dollars per store in its priority markets. The product returned in earnest this summer.
Even major names are getting in on the Bomb Pop action. Earlier this year Twisted Tea, the hard iced tea produced by Boston Beer, the company behind Samuel Adams, released a Rocket Pop flavor as part of a summer variety pack, which it called “an adult take on the frozen treat.”
To make these drinks even more perfect for summer, a variety of brewers recommend pairing them with barbecue and backyard cookout staples. “Being a more full-flavored sour, Rocket Pop Gose pairs well with saltier foods and foods high in fat,” says Flores. “It also makes for a great dessert pairing—my personal favorite was a cherry and chocolate rocket pop inspired dessert.”
While some beer purists might decry Bomb Pop-inspired beers as just another gimmick, they certainly only continue to grow in popularity. We’re certainly not mad about a little summer fun.
Rocket Pop-Inspired Drinks to Try
Last Updated: June 30, 2023