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.

 

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

12 ounce bottle old-style ale

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Add beer and butter to a saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce the liquid about a quarter.

Add sugar and bring back to a boil until temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 350°F, about 10 minutes. Do not stir, but do swirl the pan occasionally to redistribute the mixture. The sauce will thicken up like syrup.

Turn heat to low. Slowly add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Be careful – it is very hot and can splatter. Stir to incorporate. Simmer, stirring constantly, until caramel is thick and smooth.

Carefully pour it into a heatproof storage container that has a lid. Cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it sits.

Store in the refrigerator. When ready to use, spoon the amount needed into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 10 seconds to bring it back to a liquid sauce. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

 

Nut Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Ingredients:

5 large egg yolks

6 tablespoons brown sugar

8 ounces brown ale beer (I used Alesmith Nut Brown English Style Ale)

 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup chopped toasted pecans

 

Directions:

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks to break them up, then whisk in the brown sugar. Set aside.

Put the beer and the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat as necessary to avoid creating too much foam. Reduce liquid by a quarter.

While the beer and butter are reducing, place a fine-mesh strainer over shallow medium bowl and set next to your stovetop. Prepare an ice bath in your sink or in a bowl large enough for the medium bowl to sit in later.

Back at the stovetop, add cream to the beer and butter and stir until blended. Add salt and white sugar. Increase heat to medium-high. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce heat to medium.

Carefully ladle about ½ cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, slowly pour the cream to the bowl with the eggs. Repeat, adding another ladleful of cream mixture to the bowl with the yolks. This is to temper the eggs so they do not scramble in the pan.

Slowly stir the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the cream.

Cook carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to custardy consistency and registers 180°F on a candy thermometer. Custard should be able to coat the back of the spatula and a visible trail should be left if you run a finger down the back of the spatula.

Strain the custard through the mesh strainer into the prepared medium bowl. Set the bowl into the prepared ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally, until the base is cool.

Remove the bowl from the ice bath and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to make the ice cream, slice the vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Add the seeds and the vanilla extract to the chilled base and stir until blended.

Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add the pecans during the last minute or so of churning. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours. 

 

Comments

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.

Advertisement

Comments

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.

Advertisement