Ice cream and beer? It’s much better than you think

DO NOT SHAKE your head in disgust or pity when I tell you that today’s column is about beer floats. Instead, grab some real ice cream and try one for yourself. Just pour half a bottle of any decent brew into a glass, plop in a scoop and dip in with a spoon. Believe me – it’s that simple.

True, the beer float seems a desecration. Deflowering a perfectly innocent bowl of vanilla ice cream with an adult beverage is likely illegal in several states.

But beer and ice cream were destined for each other, as underscored by a fortuitous development this year that saw new dessert brands from two local breweries, Yuengling and Victory.

Yuengling, as old, old, old old-timers will recall, first made ice cream 75 years ago to survive Prohibition. The current selection is produced by a separate branch of the Pottsville beer-making family and includes 10 flavors, though none made with beer.

It’s in Victory’s new lineup of flavors, meanwhile, where you taste the obvious marriage between beer and ice cream. Its creamy varieties are made with the wort (unfermented beer) of three of its popular styles:

Hopped Up Devil complements the hops of HopDevil IPA with cinnamon, cayenne, coffee and chocolate.

Storm Drop doubles down on the chocolatey body of Storm King Imperial Stout with even more chocolate.

Triple Monkey, with Golden Monkey, marries the sweet and aromatic Belgian-style tripel with banana and pecan swirl.

Still skeptical?

I know some of you are saying, “Yuck,” so let me remind you that wort is predominantly flavored with malted barley. That’s right, malt – as in the malt shop where Archie dipped his straw with Veronica and Betty.

Though malt is sweet, its flavor can be more complex than the cane sugar in typical ice cream. Thus, you can’t taste a mouthful of Victory Storm Drop without thinking about a smooth pint of its famously strong, dark beer.

So, it’s only natural to pop open a bottle and glug a few ounces over a scoop.

That’s what Edward Strojan, chef/owner of the Victoria Freehouse in Old City, has been doing with his homemade Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Ice Cream (see recipe, Page 31). “The ice cream’s chocolate is just so intense,” he said, “and adding the stout just seems to make it even creamier. “

The British-style pub will take the beer-and-ice cream thing a step further tonight with its sold-out Harry Potter Trivia Night. On the menu: floats made with the boy wizard’s favorite treat, butterbeer.

Strojan poured me one version with a splash of Belhaven Scottish Ale that was as smooth and creamy as a DQ Blizzard, an adult treat on a hot July afternoon.

I know, I know – still having your doubts. But as Ma Sixpack told us at the dinner table, “How do you know if you don’t give it a try? “

That’s why I’ll be dishing up free beer floats tomorrow at Bell Beverage (South Philly), from 4 to 6 p.m. Have a Lindemans Framboise and a dollop of Bassetts vanilla; a Southern Tier Pumking with cinnamon, graham crackers and butter pecan; a Stoudt’s Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and rich chocolate.

Or, just experiment. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed:

  • Redhook Long Hammer IPA with Yuengling Mint Chocolate Chip.
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA with Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra
  • Troegs Troegenator Double Bock with Turkey Hill Salted Caramel
  • 21st Amendment Monk’s Blood with Talenti Caramel Apple Pie.

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