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Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Honor of Fred: the Beer Float

Many of us who are fortunate enough to live in the same town with Fred Eckhardt know about his beer experimentations, particularly his pairings with chocolate. And among these, we know of the legendary beer float--a decadent mixture of stout and ice cream that highlights his annual Beer and Chocolate Extravaganza. This year's version was the 20th annual, and as usual, the largest response came to the beer float. In honor of this great achievement in the beer sciences, I have put together a little video for those who may not have been exposed to this particular strain of genius.

Beer Float
The variations on this theme are perhaps infinite, given the variety of both the types of ice cream and styles of beer. In Fred's version, it's usually a stout (if memory serves). One might successfully pair chocolate, coffee, or vanilla ice cream with stouts, but if you're going for a high-alpha stout, you want to avoid vanilla. In my recent experimentation, a rule of thumb is that sweeter beers tend to work better than hoppy ones (I found great success with Black Butte Porter). Hops have a very different type of bitterness than coffee or chocolate, and it clashes with ice cream.

This summer I may experiment with lambics and fruit ice cream, or perhaps a dubbel. Your mileage may vary, but regard all efforts as worthy scientific investigations. You may discover something surprising. Oh, and one other important bit of advice. Don't put the ice cream in first. Beer reacts with sugar and you get a glass full of foam.


  1. mmm...lambic ice cream...

    You must be reading my mind lately Jeff, because we actually just purchased an ice cream maker for Belmont Station. We need to do some trial runs before the stuff is ready for sale, but we hope to have a rotating selection of beer-infused ice cream available in time for the warm weather.

    If you have any flavor/beer combos that you think would work well I'd love to hear them. If we use your idea, the first pint (of beer or ice cream) is on me. :)

  2. I just recently blogged about a beer float that I tried - I mixed some Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter with some Toffee flavored ice cream and wow was that good! This was a nice strong porter with 8% ABV. The two tastes seemed to match almost perfectly. Sorry I don't recall the exact brand of toffee ice cream but it had big chunks of toffee in it. I think the darker beers like stouts and some porters will do well here.

  3. were u at the tasting jeff?

  4. Chris:

    How about using a coffee-flavored stout?

    Amy's Ice Cream in Austin has served Guinness ice cream for decades. I don't think they put much in it, but it's a nice flavor.

  5. I was not at the tasting, anon. Regrettably, too. If you follow the link, you'll see that they tried a pairing of a Ninkasi beer with a pickle dipped in chocolate--an apparent case of catastrophic misjudgment on the face of it--that inexplicably turned out to be a brilliant choice. So I would have liked to try that.

    Bill, I think the variations are many, and I'd love to hear from people who tried different combos. The success and failures--it's all good to know.

  6. Bill:

    We've got several idea in mind; stout ice cream, lambic ice cream, Belgian Quad ice cream, etc...

    I might have to use some of the Ft. George Coffee Girl Stout in a test batch. If it works out, I'll drop you a line and you can pop by for a taste :)

  7. there's some dessert place up on SE Division that offers beer floats...wish i could remember the name. i had a great stout float there a few years back.

  8. I saw a recipe somewhere that involved gently boiling down guinness to concentrate and using it as an ice cream flavor, worked pretty well.

    In college we used to get bored and drink Weinhard's dark and chocolate ice cream floats... paired pretty well.

  9. Vanilla bean ice cream + Lindemanns Framboise = Badass.

    Give it a shot.