Jelly Belly beans are known for making grownups swoon. These "gourmet" candies first found their way into our hearts in 1976, changing the landscape of candy forever and making it "cool" for adults to get their sugar fix once again. And they've been favorites of presidents and heroes along the way.
President Ronald Reagan famously always had a jar of red, white, and blue Jelly Belly beans on his desk in the oval office and on Air Force One (in fact, a portrait of the former president, made from 10,000 beans, hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library) and Jelly Bellys have rocketed off into space with Sally Ride on the Challenger. Jelly Belly also sponsors athletes and has its own cycling team.
Of course, Jelly Belly's flavors have always been sophisticated enough for an adult palate with flavors like popcorn, mojito, pomegranate cosmopolitan, and chili mango being favorites. But recently, Jelly Belly launched a new flavor that completely won my heart before I could get my hands on a single bean -- draft beer.
The flavor, announced a few months back, quickly sold out everywhere, with the company backordering any purchases. The alcohol-free beans, which were described by its makers as the culmination of "years of perfecting the formulation of the right flavor of hops and yeast" were sadly unavailable. In fact, visits to almost every candy store in south Florida (and two in Orlando) yielded a firm "no" along with a stare like I just lost my mind when I inquired about the magic beans.
Then, just as I was about to give up hope, I passed It'Sugar at Shops at Sunset Place on the way to the movies. They had an extensive display of Ted dolls in the window and somehow I figured that any place that could devote so much window real estate to a foul-mouthed toy bear would carry beer-flavored beans. I was right!
There they were. Right alongside more common flavors like tutti-frutti and cherry. Golden peach in color, they were pearlescent and gorgeous. I opened the barrel to scoop some out and encountered a whiff of... beer. Yes. These beans smell like beer or, more accurately, stale beer. The aroma is not the most attractive.
Boldly pushing through, I purchased some. Barely out of the shop, I delved into the bag and tried a few. At first you get an overpowering of plain sugar. Then the flavor kicks in. There's a definite beer flavor..hoppy at first, with a strong yeast finish. That's obviously where the aroma gets its pungency.
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Are draft deer Jelly Bellys worth the $12.96 per pound? Yes. First off, they really are a gorgeous iridescent golden peach hue and would make great favors for a Saint Patrick's Day celebration or any party (totally better than candied almonds or M&M's at a wedding, I'd venture). Secondly, they're addictive and get better the more you eat (I'm eating them as I'm writing, by the way). Plus, they're non-alcoholic, so they're a fun little "naughty" treat to share around the office. Let's hope this is the start to an entire collection of "adult" beans. Bourbon Jelly Belly's, anyone?