So I gave Bonnaroo Buzz a try. Coffee and malt ice cream with a whiskey swirl and crunchy toffee bits, it captures the beery, boozy and caffeinated aspects of its namesake music festival, but with the benefit of two other major mood enhancers: butterfat and sugar. I love it like I love any good ice cream.
It just seemed mysterious that it popped up in Chattanooga with only a homemade sign to promote it. Now we know the reason. The folks at Ben & Jerry's initially made the flavor available only in the company's ice cream parlors. Now it's hit the big time, and you can look for it in local supermarkets this spring.
"Bonnaroo Buzz is going from playing intimate clubs to the national circuit," said Ben & Jerry's exec Dave Stever. Today the company sent over a few pints to the Scene's office, so everyone, not just me, could taste the essence of the festival in a cup or cone. (The swag coincided with the release of this year's Bonnaroo lineup. Check out all the Bonnaroo news at our sister site, Nashville Cream.)
Some points Ben & Jerry's marketers stressed: The coffee used in the ice cream is fair-trade certified, from the Huatusco cooperative in Mexico. And Bonnaroo donates its share of the proceeds from the ice cream to the Bonnaroo Works Fund, "which seeks to further the organization's community investment and philanthropic efforts" in Coffee County, Tenn., where the festival takes place each summer.
More about how the Bonnaroo Buzz concoction was created: "It's Coffee County, so it only made sense to add a cool coffee base to this flavor," flavor developer Eric Fredette says. The caramel-whiskey swirl is another homage to Tennessee, though the company added this disclaimer: "The whiskey used in the caramel swirl has had the alcohol cooked out, so the buzz from Bonnaroo Buzz is not an alcohol buzz."
Around the Scene, the reaction was predominantly positive, though folks who don't like malt or coffee flavors obviously weren't huge fans. But those flavors were actually pretty subtle in the ice cream base, and really unique.
The crunchy English toffee wowed many of us, along with the caramel swirl (which didn't taste especially whiskey-ish, but was good nonetheless.)
Another view came from some of my co-workers who actually attend Bonnaroo every year, sweating it out under the sweltering sun: Although the ice cream is delicious, it's not a flavor they'd necessarily want to eat at Bonnaroo. They say they'd like something more refreshing, possibly with fruit.
That's fine — we who don't get to go to Bonnaroo have the perfect ice cream solace.