Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Look, The Flavor, The Beer Memories Without The Hangover: Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans!

The Good: Tastes very much like inexpensive beer, Accurate aroma, Great ingredients! Very cool look!
The Bad: Flavor could be a little stronger (more beer, less water), Fans might want to wait for an environmentally responsible bulking!
The Basics: The new Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly beans are exactly what they promise to be and will satisfy casual beer drinkers, while those who like more flavorful beers will find them to be just a little less than they could hope.

It’s that time again! Every year, Jelly Belly shakes up their line-up of amazing jelly bean flavors and 2014 is off to a good start for the company with one of its most inventive jelly beans in years. This year, Jelly Belly is releasing Draft Beer flavored jelly beans and I have been fortunate enough to receive my samples from the company for review (Thanks Jelly Belly!). It should be noted up front, mostly because my wife was on me about this from the moment Jelly Belly announced their new flavor, that I do not drink alcohol. In fact, I have not had an alcoholic drink in over twenty years, so my ability to review alcohol is nonexistent. I vaguely remember the taste of beer – my father (unlike my wife) had a taste for pretty light beers, like Genny Cream Ale, Coors, and in later years Sam Adams – and in my college years, I took the trash out in the dorms for a year and the smell of cheap beer became one of the omnipresent, nauseating scents of that period in my life. But, the short of it is that I have very little comparative analysis abilities when it comes to a beer flavored bean – my wife jokingly said I would be unable to differentiate between a beer, lager, and ale for the flavor and she is right. But, my interpretation of draft beer (from watching my wife’s career in the restaurant business) is that draft beers tend to be less expensive beers at most establishments (and their taste really depends on how well the lines are kept clean!).

All of that said, having now tried the Draft Beer Jelly Bellys, the best way I can both compliment and critique the bean is with a chocolate analogy. The Draft Beer flavor is a perfect representation of what it promises to be, but what it promises is something less than the ideal. To wit; so many chocolate-flavored items taste like chocolate, but once one has developed a taste for dark chocolate, it is very hard to go back to milk chocolate. Milk chocolate and milk chocolate-flavored items taste “watered down” by comparison to the bold, full flavor of dark chocolate. Even by scent alone, I can tell the difference in potency between a porter or stout and a draft beer or mass-produced beer. Jelly Belly gets the “watered down” beer flavor absolutely right, but given their talent it is somewhat disappointing that they did not develop the headier, stronger, darker flavor of a more powerful beer. But, it’s hard to argue with nailing the promised flavor and Jelly Belly does that once again with Draft Beer.

For those who might never have had Jelly Belly jelly beans, these are easily the best jelly beans on the planet, packing a lot of flavor into a very small size. Unlike most jelly beans which are only vaguely flavored and are more based on colors, Jelly Belly jelly beans have a wide variety of actual flavors, like candy cane, Plum, Snapple Ice Teas or their signature flavor Buttered Popcorn.

The Draft Beer Jelly Bellys are creeping into the market in smaller packages (the ones sent to us from the factory were .5 oz. bags), but if these are successful they will no doubt create their usual ten pound bulk boxes.


Draft Beer is a new flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans, a premium jelly bean, and this flavor is one kept out of the standard 50 flavor assortment. Jelly Belly jelly beans are approximately one half inch long by one quarter inch wide and they are roughly bean-shaped. These little candies are marketed to taste precisely like Draft Beer and they meet the expectations of those looking for a pretty generic beer flavor perfectly!

Draft Beer flavored Jelly Bellys are easy to recognize in the pantheon of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The Draft Beer is very coolly colored with an iridescent (shiny!) brown/copper color that looks like the bubbly head of a beer! This distinctive, pearlescent color is different from every other Jelly Belly jelly bean and sets the consumer up for a fun taste experience from the look to the smell to the taste.

Ease of Preparation

These are jelly beans, not making your own microbrew, so it's not like there is a challenge to eating them. In the case of the small bag, simply open and pull out the beans and enjoy!


Opening the package of Draft Beer Jelly Bellys, the scent of a college frat house bursts out. The sour, distinct smell of beer is instantly evident the moment the package is opened. In fact, the scent is so true to the smell of beer that my stomach turned. But, anyone who does not like the smell of beer (it truly is a young, manly smell that is instantly associated in my mind with dirty places and empty bottles – the frat house without the smell of pizza and/or sweat) will find that Jelly Belly’s accuracy works as a detriment; the scent is inviting only to those who like beer and are excited by the potential that the aroma elicits.

As for the flavor, my wife beat me to the punch as she tried one and said, “They nailed it!” Well, my taste buds and tummy agree; Jelly Belly has created a fizzy, beer flavored bean that is distinct, but not overwhelming to the taste buds . . . just like draft beer. The amazing aspect of Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly beans is how the company captured the watered-down flavor of draft beer or light beer as opposed to the darker brews; the Draft Beer jelly beans are sweet only as an aftertaste, with a primary flavor that is watery and the exact flavor of a lighter-colored beer.

The Draft Beer Jelly Bellys have a slightly sweet, minutely bitter aftertaste that dwells on the tongue for about a minute after the last bean is eaten . . . and yes, if you burp for up to half an hour after the last bean, the mouth fills with a beer flavor again. Ahhh . . . gross (but perfect for the flavor!).


Again, these are jelly beans, so anyone looking to them for nutrition needs to understand that they do not have any of the nutritional benefits (or detractions, for those watching their sodium or caloric intake) of actual Draft Beer. Jelly beans, even Jelly Belly jelly beans, are not a legitimate source of nutrition. These are a snack food, a dessert, and are in no way an adequate substitute for a real meal. A .5 oz. serving is approximately fifteen beans, with each Jelly Belly jelly bean having approximately four calories (there are 50 calories in the .5 oz. pack). The 13 grams of carbohydrates represents 4% of the RDA of carbs.

elly Belly jelly beans are not as bad as they could be in the nutrition area. They have no fat and no protein and these are Vegan compliant (except to the most militant vegans who won’t consume beeswax) because they contain no gelatin! They have no significant sodium and they are gluten and alcohol free! The main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup and modified food starch, so it's not like this is an all-natural food, but they could be far, far worse. Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly beans are made in a peanut free factory!


Jelly Belly jelly beans have a shelf life of approximately two years and I have yet to run across a stale Jelly Belly. The batch I just received direct from the factory did not have an expiration date, so how long it might take them to go bad shall likely remain a mystery! They remain freshest when they are kept in an airtight container and they ought to be kept in a cool or lukewarm environment. Storing them in hot places is likely to make the beans stick together and be gross. Kept in a cool, dry place, the beans retain their flavor perfectly.

As for cleanup, unless one allows the Jelly Belly to get hot to the point that the waxy coating on the bean melts, the dyes on these do not bleed or denature, so there is usually no cleanup necessary, but you should wash your hands before eating them anyway (you might want to wash them afterward as well, especially if you’re going out driving because, let’s face it, the only thing more embarrassing than telling the officer you’ve just had a couple of beers is probably having to admit that you’ve just gorged on beer flavored jelly beans). I've never had Draft Beer Jelly Bellys stain anything.


Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly beans are incredibly good, but looking over my pantheon of Jelly Belly Jelly Bean reviews, the common element for the beans I gave a perfect 10 to was not only fidelity to flavor, but a flavor I would actually enjoy having again. Draft Beer was wonderfully accurate, but was a flavor novelty, more than one I would ever crave having again. It’s perfect for the draft beer drinking crowd, but me? I’m more a dark chocolate fan and to really sell me on a beer bean, I’d want something more potent than this.

For other Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors reviewed by me, please check out:
Beanboozled Assortment
Raspberry Dips


For other Jelly Belly Jelly Bean reviews, please visit my Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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