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Sherry Dryja's picture

The Scoop on Ice Cream and Beer

Beer Ice Cream

Recently, the jangly tune of an ice cream truck wafted through my neighborhood, announcing to everyone within earshot that summer had arrived. The man driving the truck had nearly every frozen novelty available, but there’s one style of treat that he didn’t have and, even if he did, he couldn’t sell it to the kids lining up for a taste: ice cream made with beer. 

Beer and ice cream may not be an intuitive pairing, but they go together surprisingly well – especially malty brews like ambers, brown ales, and chocolate stouts. Though some hop-forward beers might work, maltier ones are more likely to provide sweeter success.

One of the easiest and most common ways to combine ice cream and beer is by creating a beer ice cream float. Simply add a chocolatey stout to a glass filled with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

For an adult version of the root beer float, pour Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer into a large mug with vanilla ice cream. It’ll take you back to your childhood but also remind you why you like being an adult.

Sauces are yet another way to beer up your ice cream. My caramel sauce calls for an old-style ale, such as the bourbon barrel-aged Gentlemen’s Club collaboration between Cigar City Brewing and Widmer Brothers Brewing. It provides a deep nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with toasted pecans. Drizzle it over ice cream, serve it with sliced apples, or bake it into a caramel apple pie with homemade ice cream on the side.

To really amp up ice cream with beer, though, go all out and make it at home using beer as one of the ingredients. My Nut Brown Butter Pecan is a custard-based ice cream that gets much of its rich, toasty flavor from a brown ale, specifically Alesmith’s Nut Brown English Style Ale. Butter and brown sugar don’t hurt the cause either. The beer in the recipe is reduced to deepen the flavor and to burn off some of the alcohol so the ice cream can freeze better. 

Now that you know the many ways of adding beer to ice cream, don’t be surprised if your adult neighbors start lining up at your door like kids at the ice cream truck.



Simontheeditor's picture
You can make cherry beer ice-cream using a weak kriek or equivalent. Very tasty! I use a couple of shots of Lindemanns or Liefmanns which has a distinct fruity flavour, rather than a drier variant.
Pat Mulloy's picture
This all sounds crazy but it works. Years ago one of my favorite liquor stores stocked tons of cheap lambics and I learned to make peche lambica - use 1/2 lb peaches(blend half with a tablespoon or two of honey). Cut the rest of the peaches into wedges. Divide the pureed peaches between 4 goblets. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in each goblet. Pour peach lambic over the ice cream and garnish with the peaches. This works with just about any lambic and I also found that lambics make pretty good sorbets. My UPS driver tried to start a business making beer ice cream and he did some nice things with stouts.