Ari Fleischer's craft-beer epiphany happened at Atlantic Station, of all places. He was enjoying 2007's German Bierfest when he fell in love. "I wish I could've seen the look on my face when I first tried some great German beers," he tells Creative Loafing. "I didn't know beer could taste like that! Everything from a classic hefe to a rauchbier or a weizenbock. It wasn't too long after that I discovered Brick Store, and the rest is history."
Fast-forward a few years, and Fleischer, a 28-year-old Emory graduate, has started Frozen Pints, the craft-beer ice cream that's been popping up all over Atlanta area retail stores. Up until a couple months ago, Fleischer worked in market research, but he's throwing himself into Frozen Pints full time now. "Someone told me that starting your own business is like jumping out of a plane with all the equipment you'll need to build a parachute," he says. "I'm thoroughly enjoying the ride." CL caught up with Fleischer about his first beer, the origin of Frozen Pints, and where he hopes to take his alcoholic confection in the future.
Describe your first beer experience.
We had a [high school] friend whose parents were out of town, so we decided to gather at his place. A few of my buddies had started drinking before I did, and they were dying to introduce me to this great beer they called "Colt 45." We fortunately decided against playing Edward Fortyhands, but it was a pretty rough morning after regardless. Suffice to say, I wasn't the biggest beer fan at first. College was mostly Beast and Natty Ice, so I guess I didn't really learn about great beer until after school.
There was an epic moment of beer spillage/eureka discovery that led to the creation of Frozen Pints. How long did it take to make it ready for the public?
Yes! It was in April 2010 and the best part was that we just so happened to be drinking one of my all-time favorite beers, which ended up becoming Vanilla Bock. My friends Brian and Kim had brought their ice cream maker over just to make vanilla ice cream — little did we know how things would turn out! After that I decided to pick up a home ice cream maker just as a hobby. I tried all kinds of crazy recipes and really enjoyed it, though there was one awful attempt involving olives and Biere de Garde. It took another six to eight months or so before I really had all the flavors nailed down.
What flavors are selling best and what's coming next?
So far, the Malted Milk Chocolate Stout seems to be the most popular, but not by much. I'm actually really pleased that it's so close. I think it reflects the desire to seek out new things that's so essential to craft beer. If you ask a true beer fan to pick out their favorite beer, chances are they won't be able to. Too many options, all depending on the occasion, their mood, the weather, etc. I'm hoping to keep enough distinction between our flavors that we get the same thing with Frozen Pints. We have a few things going in the kitchen right now. We did a Marshmallow Smoked Porter a while back that we've been tweaking, and we have a pretty solid Strawberry Ale going, too. Most importantly, we've started working with some local breweries to craft flavors out of their stuff.
There are cigars made from hops, pizza made with spent grain, and now ice cream made with beer. What other beer-aided consumables do you hope for the future?
Before I had the idea about Frozen Pints, I had a dream to start a restaurant where everything on the menu contained beer in some way. Every dish, from bread and salad to dessert. Then I realized I had no idea how to run a restaurant. But it's such a versatile ingredient, and I think the culinary community is just starting to come around to it. People have been cooking with wine for ages, but there are so many incredible flavors in beer that it really just opens up a ton of new options. I had actually heard that someone came up with beer shampoo. Not sure how I feel about that, but I'd be a hypocrite if I doubted it before trying.