REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Breakside Brewery’s Spent Grains & Bacon S’mores

No stranger to being the cool kids in the ice cream class, Salt & Straw are kicking off the summer season with an entire line of gourmet flavors using recycled and rescued ingredients.  No, they didn’t dig through the garbage to make a creamy casserole of mismatched scraps, but rather, sought out byproducts of food processes, fruit too bruised to sell at full price, or bread that is too stale to stay on shelves and flipped them into inventive flavors of melty indulgence.  As a country that wastes 40% of our food, this is a great thing to do for the United States, and owners Kim and Tyler Malek estimate this limited line alone will save around 2,000 pounds of food waste.  For Breakside Brewery’s Spent Grains & Bacon S’mores, S&S utilized the flavor of leftover grains and malts from brewing beer and combined them with chocolate chunks and a bacon marshmallow fluff swirl.

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Anytime that I see bacon as a component used in a sweet or non-traditional way I get skeptical that it is there purely for gimmick because of the “everything is better with bacon” hype, but with this flavor that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The marshmallow swirl is composed of 70% or so pure fluffy sweet marshmallow fluff, with an incredible balance of bounce and sugar that is everything a marshmallow should be – it’s perfect.  Dispersed sporadically throughout the ‘mallow are chunks of bacon that cut through the sweetness with a touch of salt and a wonderfully pronounced smokiness that evokes the flavors of a campfire.  The bacon is used not only to add an interesting tasting component, but to elevate the entire s’mores experience to a new, truer level than I’ve had in ice cream and it is fantastic.

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The chocolate, unsurprisingly because it’s Salt & Straw, is incredibly dark and bitter with a big, bold cocoa flavor and an interesting gritty texture.  It tastes very high quality and feels like some of the spent grains were used in the pieces, as there’s a chunky density to the chocolate instead of the typical smooth and clean texture that usually coincides with chips/chunks.

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Rounding the entire s’mores experience out is the actual ice cream itself, which is a slightly gritty yet still silky smooth graham cracker base with light honey notes and hints of earthiness.  The texture feels like a bunch of crackers were ground up and soaked in cream and then churned without any kind of aggressive straining to filter out the bits.  The base is also where the recycled component comes into play, mixing the roasted spent grains from Breakside Brewery in conjunction with the graham to create a deep slightly smoky presence, and there are no odd flavors that seem out of place or boozy for a s’mores ice cream; everything works incredibly well.

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The only element missing from an ideal s’mores experience is gooey melted chocolate, but all the flavors are represented and the execution of the recycled theme is spot on.  A wonderful start to the June line, this one is a must try for people who love marshmallow, s’mores, or bacon used in brilliant new ways.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: http://www.saltandstraw.com or in scoops shops in Portland, OR

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