Shermans three years ago 903 brows Owners Jeremy and Natalie Roberts were at a Florida beer festival when they came across a downright unusual style of beer from Indianolis’ 450 North Brewing Company. Sitting next to the brewery’s booth at the festival, the Robertses noticed that the 450 North line seemed to be constantly full of people longing to try their mushy beers.
“We wondered why people wanted these beers so badly,” says Roberts. “And then we tried it and saw how refreshing it was. We said, “Look, nobody in Texas really drinks a mushy beer, and we have to.”
Enter the fruity sour beers from 903 Brewing – a seriously creative range of beers that have inspired Dallasites to head north an hour just for a drink since the slushies debuted last year.
For people unfamiliar with the term “mushy”, it’s not the frozen libation you might think of. In fact, no ice is involved at all. In 903, “mushy” refers to a fruity sour beer, as it essentially sounds: a sour beer, in this case Berliner-Weisse, to which a ton of fruit puree is added. The result is a thick beer with a mushy consistency and a seriously fruity flavor profile.
Roberts describes the style as “almost like a cocktail”. The fruits and other additives like lactose completely change the taste of the beer. While many of 903’s slushies are built on the same base, each variation is a completely unique experience. Some are cute, others are mouth dead. Some exist in a border area between the two. In fact, the transformation is so strong that even people who profess sour beer haters can find something in these types of beer that they can refine.
According to Roberts, 903 is now “one of the top breweries that produce the strongly fruity, mushy sour beers”. It’s a tremendous change for the brewery, previously known throughout the Metroplex for their dark and complex bold beers – especially the Sasquatch, an imperial chocolate milk stout brewed with lactose and cocoa nibs.
Now that there is so much interest in 903’s slushies, Roberts is focused on constantly experimenting with new flavors and styles. In 2010, 903 Brewers released a smoothie-style seltzer, an attempt to create a gluten-free companion for the mushy beers. It was slow to sell at first – the Ril 1 release date made some people think it was a cheeky joke from the Ril Fool – but just like that
People tried the fruity seltzer and it sold out quickly.
Roberts has also started working with ingredients that are traditionally not found in sour beers. In one of his most recent releases, the Raspberry Beret Slushy, Roberts mixed strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries with downright non-traditional ingredients like vanilla, white chocolate, and milk sugar (or lactose). Even if you see these latter ingredients more likely in something like a stout, they reduce the tartness of a typical sour berry spike, add richness, and help maintain a smooth mouthfeel.
Amid the muddy boom, 903 Brewers was also busy making some much-needed improvements to its operation. During the pandemic, 903 increased demand for canned beers dramatically, so Roberts says the brewery is unable to keep up with demand for its inventory. Roberts recently purchased a new line of cans from Blanco’s Real ale brewingThis enables the brewery to quadruple its daily production from 800 crates of beer per day to 3,200.
Roberts is also constantly working to increase the amount of beer 903 can brew. He says when the brewery started they each brewed 55 gallons of beer. They upgraded to a 200 gallon system in 2014 and have now gone even higher, brewing 1,000 gallons each.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he says. “I brew more beer every day before noon than in my first year of business.”
As companies across the country laid off employees during the pandemic, Roberts said sales of its canned breweries like the Mushroom Beers were strong enough to keep all of the brewery’s employees busy and even allowed 903 new employees to work.
When it comes to finding 903’s slushies, your best bet is to go to Sherman’s. Most of these releases, like the island-inspired Tiki Room infused with coconut, passion fruit, and guava, and the raspberry infused beret, are only available in cans from the brewery. The room is filled with squishy four-packs that can be bought to take away, while individual cans are offered for people who want a squishy swig on the brewery’s spacious terrace.
However, people who cannot reach Sherman are out of luck. About twice a month, Roberts says he’ll be shipping some slushies – about 40 cases – to 903 retailers across the state. The brewery also releases all slushies in kegs, but only ships between six and ten of these kegs to local traders. So while it’s possible to find these coveted slushies at various growler bars in Dallas-Fort Worth, it’s impossible to try the entire line without a trip north.
But Roberts says a lot of people are making this trip, not just from Dallas. “We have a lot of people from Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, but also from Tulsa and Oklahoma City,” he says. “The crazier we get, the better our beer gets.”