With as much fanfare as they could muster Three Floyds introduced their first ever line extension last week. A double version of their wildly popular Pale Ale Zombie Dust, humorously called Zombie Ice hit the shelves, alongside the brand’s first ever variety pack. Which as an aside, this variety pack fucking rocks. I brought it to a party and those who don’t really care for craft beer enjoyed the Jinx Proof Lager, while the craft beer fans were excited to see Zombie Dust and Ice, and those who are craft curious enjoyed the citrusy punch of Barbarian Haze.
But how could Zombie Ice possibly live up to the expectations of being the big brother of the beer that put Three Floyds and Citra hops on the map? When I cracked my first can, I was very nervous. Tastes, especially around Pale Ales have changed and Floyds was marketing this as the “bigger more aggressive” version of their beloved beer. I took a sip and was floored. Is it bigger? Yes. More aggressive? Not really.
Zombie Ice is bolder, but not more bitter, it’s cleaner, crisper, and well rounded. A truly refreshing throwback of a Pale Ale that completely betrays its ABV and marketing. And the most baffling part is its price. At $14.99 a 6-pack, and $3.99 for a 19.2oz can, Zombie Ice’s aggression may actually come from how well it’s priced. Zombie Dust only sells for a dollar less in each format.
As Kate Bernot wrote for the Washington Post recently a lot of beer drinkers are buying with ABV in mind. Goose Island sells a 19.2oz can of a 9.9% IPA, and New Belgium offers a 9% Voodoo Ranger in the same format. But craft beer fans who live in Three Floyds ever expanding distro network are going to start seeing this very aggressively priced 8.5% take on one of their favorite beers and I could see Zombie Ice starting to sell on par with those brands, at least initially. New Belgium definitely has more “sale levers” they could pull should they feel Ice is starting to encroach on their territory.
Which brings me back to just how incredibly well executed this beer is. People who claim they want craft Lagers because they are “crisp and clean” will find what they are looking for here. Decades of brewing experience make Zombie Ice pop from the moment you crack the can until you finish the last sip. All with no lingering bitterness or cloying sweetness. You could almost sit this beer side by side with a Cold IPA.
I’m really excited to see what happens with this beer and what it could mean for the future of one of America’s best craft breweries.