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Belly up! Combine jelly bean flavors to create fave beer tastes

Feb. 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM ET

Jelly beans sit in a bin waiting to be packaged on the assembly line at the Jelly Belly factory.
David Paul Morris / Getty Images
Jelly beans sit in a bin waiting to be packaged on the assembly line at the Jelly Belly factory.

Jelly Belly jelly beans were a great source of joy for me as a kid. We'd regularly take long car trips and my sister and I would pass the time with a bag of Jelly Belly candy, following the "recipes" printed on the bag that called for combining different flavored beans to create new and interesting taste treats. Oh my gosh — two Green Apple and one Cinnamon totally DO taste like a candy apple!

When Jelly Belly recently announced it was making a new "Draft Beer"-flavored jelly bean, the dusty bean-blending gears in my brain immediately creaked back to life. I savored the opportunity to blend a fun part of my youth with an obsession of my adulthood: Jelly Belly candy and craft beer.

Jelly Belly based the Draft Beer bean on a German Hefeweizen, a sweet and bready wheat beer that’s known for its notes of banana, clove and sometimes a hint of bubblegum. The Draft Beer beans do a lovely job of replicating the Hefeweizen style, with a sweet, broad flavor that has just enough maltiness and a simulated taste of alcohol (the beans contain no booze) to trick your senses into thinking of beer when you chew one up.

I got my hands on some Draft Beer beans and Jelly Belly's 50-Flavor Gift Box and set to work concocting new flavor combos, intent on recreating the flavors of different styles of craft beer.

IPA
Two Draft Beer + One Sunkist Grapefruit

With the Draft Beer beans acting as the beery base, the grapefruit bean adds a bittersweet citrus punch to the proceeding, reminiscent of a classic West Coast IPA.

Dandy Shandy
Two Draft Beer + One Lemon Drop 

A lemon shandy is a beer that blends a wheat beer and lemonade. It was a safe bet that combining two wheat beer-inspired Draft Beer beans with a Lemon Drop bean would create a fair replication of this summer thirst quencher. It did, with the Lemon Drop adding a bright and clean pucker of lemon onto the finish of the flavor.

Imperial Stout
Two Draft Beer + One Chocolate Pudding + One Licorice

I love big boozy stouts, so I was happy when I found this perfect combination of beans to create a satisfying facsimile. The Draft Beer beans supply the beeriness, with the Chocolate Pudding bean adding richness and the Licorice bean bringing complexity and the sensation of booziness to the back end of the flavor. Serve this one in a snifter!

Chili Mango Pale Ale
Two Draft Beer + One Chili Mango

I was irrationally excited to see a Chili Mango jelly bean among the 50 varieties in the gift box I was using as a source of flavors to punch up the Draft Beer beans. And punching up is exactly what happened when I added one to the mix. It reminded me a bit of Ballast Point’s excellent Habanero Mango Sculpin IPA, with a rich malt base playing host to a sweet burst of mango and a peppery chili finish. Excellent!

Coffee Stout
Three Draft Beer + One Chocolate Pudding + Cappuccino

I love coffee stout, which blends a rich roasted malt profile with hints of espresso, vanilla and chocolate. Combining three Draft Beer beans with a Chocolate Pudding and a Cappuccino bean did a wonderful job of replicating the complex flavors found in these hearty beers.

Framboise
Two Draft Beer + One Raspberry

I found a super bright raspberry bean in the gift box, which was perfect for creating a chewy rendition of Lindemans Framboise, a Belgian wheat beer blended with raspberries. Earthy, sweet and having a very clean finish, these flavors worked wonderfully together. I also mixed a Sour Cherry with a single Draft Beer to create a facsimile of a New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red. Delicious!

Watermelon Wheat
Two Draft Beer + One Watermelon

My all-time favorite Jelly Belly has to be Watermelon, mostly because I love how they are green on the outside and pink in the middle, just like a real watermelon. Blending a Watermelon bean with two Draft Beer beans creates a tasty homage to 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon, a wheat beer brewed with the refreshing fruit. Malty, smooth and sweet, this might be my favorite combination of the bunch.

Those were just some of the fun combos I concocted — pairing a couple bags of Draft Beer beans and a Jelly Belly gift box creates a ton of possibilities to explore. I’m just happy that Jelly Belly has given me an excuse to revisit one of my favorite childhood treats while geeking out about one of my favorite adult indulgences. Now I’m just waiting for the whiskey beans!

Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter.

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