Why You Should Mix Ice Cream and Beer

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If you've ever been at a loss for what to make for friends coming over, dinner, or a long weekend lunch, first look in your beer cooler. That's how Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker begin every recipe in the inspiring new brew-focused recipe cookbook, Beer Bites. Pick a beer style, go to its chapter, and get cooking. From fried burrata sandwiches served with blood orange-tomato soup (and a witbier) to black bean huaraches paired with schwarbier, the book encourages culinary experimentation — none more apparent than this fruit beer float recipe. Nothing says pushing boundaries like plopping a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream in a wild ale. Below, excerpted from the book, is how to do it. –Tyghe Trimble


"Wild and sour ales, beers made with yeasts that impart appealing acidity developed over extended time spent either in steel tanks or wood barrels, are a joy to pair with the right foods. American craft brewers, inspired by Belgian mas­ters, began tinkering with the styles in earnest in the early 1990s, adding fruits and laying the domestic foundations for a bona fide movement in craft beer.

Today, American wild and sour ales hold their own with the best in the world. By playing up acidity and fruity notes instead of bitternes s, wild-yeast brewers have won over scores of drinkers who thought they’d never, ever like craft beer. Like the Belgian lambics that inspired them, these beers are often named for their fruity additions using Dutch or French: cherry (kriek), raspberry (framboise), apple (pomme), black currant (cassis), and peach (pêche). For the dis­tinctive tang, many of these complex, almost winelike sour beers use Lactobacillus, the same bacteria strain that makes yogurt’s pleasantly sour taste so appealing.

In this ideal summertime pairing, we went against the conventional wisdom about beer floats, which recommends using stouts and porters. We found that the bitterness in stout fights ice cream to the death. Instead, look to fruit; we discovered that the very same lactic flavor in sour beer works magic when a scoop of good vanilla ice cream is launched in. One beer in particular took the cake, or rather the ice cream—Bier Royale from The Commons, in Portland, Oregon, which is flavored liberally with black currants and has a gorgeous rosy hue. Is this beer simply too good to mix with ice cream? We have to say no; we love its bracing bite all on its own, but we also love what happens when that bite meets another mouthful of frozen creamy goodness. The beer foam and ice cream form a soft cap, like an edible science experiment, while the sweet cream and tart beer trade high fives of flavor. It’s summertime in a glass, what­ever the weather."

Serves 1

  •  3/4 cup American Wild Ale with Fruit (See below for recommendations)
  • 1 Giant Scoop Good-Quality Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Raspberries for Garnish 

Pour the ale into a stemmed tulip glass. Carefully slip in the scoop of ice cream. It’s important to add the ice cream to the beer, rather than vice versa, to ensure that it will float and not stick to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with two or three raspberries, if desired. Serve immediately with a spoon and straw.

Recommended wild ales for the fruit beer float: Bier Royale from The Commons Brewery; Kriek from Cascade Barrel House; Rainier Kriek from Double Mountain; Festina Pêche from Dogfish Head; Atrial Rubicite from Jester King