Well in Costa Rica this would be one of the most popular ice cream flavors and all the kids at the park would be eating it. It all started because I decided to throw my husband a beer-themed birthday party: pilsner-braised ribs, bitter greens with an IPA dressing, coffee stout brownies. I’d just seen a recipe for Guinness Ice Cream, and since Scott loves ice cream, it seemed like the perfect birthday topper for the brownies.
Never one to make a recipe for the first time on game day, I gave it a test run. Good thing I did; to say it was a letdown is an understatement. Bitter, flat flavored, and too hard and icy. It just didn’t translate from pint glass to ice cream pint. But I wasn’t about to throw the idea down the drain. The potential for beer ice cream seemed huge. I just needed a new beer. And a new recipe.
At the suggestion of an employee at the local cheese shop, I decided to try a beer I’d never had: Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo. This oak-aged English strong ale is malty, a little bitter, balanced with a raisiny, toffee-like sweetness. I started by cooking down some of the beer, then made a straightforward custard base, stirred in the beer, chilled it, and churned it.
The results opened my eyes to a whole new world of ice cream making. This was beer ice cream, certainly, but the flavor was so complex, so far beyond just beer in the “can of suds” sense, that my taste buds and brain immediately went in fifty directions at once. The next six months (yes, we’re long past the party date) saw me buying (and commandeering from Scott) any beer with a modicum of ice cream potential.
What were my favorites after making gallons upon gallons of ice cream? Just like when you’re choosing a beer for drinking, there isn’t one best choice for ice cream. The only ground rules are it has to be malty, not hoppy (hops get bitter when cooked) and it has to have a decent ABV. My all-around champ remains Stingo. It’s beery and epicurean at once. Old Chubb, my favorite Scotch ale, is a close second. Sam Adams’ Maple Pecan Porter made a surprisingly yummy ice cream—good even when I wasn’t really in the mood for beer.
On the bolder front, Southern Tier’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Founder’s Breakfast Stout hit the spot when I craved serious, heady beer flavor with a more bitter bite. Belgian-style Maudite was the mildest of what I tried, and its flavor came through as elegant and subdued. If I owned a nice restaurant, it would go on the menu. Stone’s barleywine was surprisingly tasty, though it pushed the ABV limits a bit. I stayed away from the flavored stuff (coffee, chocolate, crème brûlée, et al)—if I want coffee ice cream, I’ll just make coffee ice cream. If I could get my hands on some Goose Island Bourbon County, I bet the results would be phenomenal. I have a running list of beers yet to try.
So I think you get the picture. Beer ice cream is delicious to eat and addictive to make, especially because there are just so many beer options these days. Use my recipe as a guide, not as a hard and fast rule. But don’t blame me when people tell you there are help groups for addictions like this. Do feel free to call me if you need a sympathetic ear—just make sure to send me a sample of your ice cream first.
To Read The Entire Article and See How to Make This Tasty Treat Click Americans Test Kitchen.