Beer and Ice Cream? The Burgeoning World of Beer Desserts

Beer and desserts are not strangers – you can pair a lovely fruity beer or sweet shandy with a range of different desserts. But, what about ice cream? What exactly does a beer float bring to your taste buds? Actually, beer and ice cream pair surprisingly well, and a number of companies are cashing in on that fact. What should you know?

Beer Ice Cream

If you’re looking for true beer ice cream, look no further than Frozen Pints. The company claims it was a moment of (slightly inebriated) inspiration when someone spilled beer near the ice cream maker. Frozen Pints combines the best of two worlds – handmade ice cream and craft beer – to create something that truly stands out. Unlike most other options on the market, you will find that Frozen Pints’ products actually do contain real beer flavors, and they really are made with real beer (making this one of the very few authentic beer ice cream options on the US market). 

To date, the company offers a broad range of different flavors, including:

  • Vanilla Bock
  • Malted Milk Chocolate Stout
  • Peach Lambic
  • Honey IPA
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Brown Ale Chip
  • Cinnamon Espresso Stout

Frozen Pints isn’t the only company capitalizing on the popularity of beer and ice cream fused into a single creation. The Brewer’s Cow has been around since 2000 and combines craft beer with the finest cream produced in New England. Like Frozen Pints, The Brewer’s Cow offers some tasty departures from the norm to delight your palate, including:

  • Black and Tan
  • Ten Penny Beer Nut Parfait
  • Bavarian Beer Brittle

You’ll find breweries like Guinness, Sam Adams and Ten Penny used, and the company promises many other flavors are on their way.

Of course, a glance at your local supermarket shelves will show you other beer and ice cream pairings. One new one that’s actually a very old one is Yeungling’s ice cream. The brewery turned to ice cream making during Prohibition, and has now brought its sweet dessert back to the public after a 30-year hiatus. With names like Black and Tan, you’d expect the company’s ice cream to taste at least a little like their beers, but that’s not really the case (the Black and Tan is actually Belgian chocolate and salted caramel). There’s no beer flavor here, and no beer is actually used in the making. With that being said, Yeungling’s ice cream is all natural, and you’ll find some interesting flavors to try (and to pair with your favorite craft beer at the end of the night), including:

  • Black and Tan
  • Classic Chocolate Marshmallow
  • Vanilla Fudge Chunk

Make Your Own

Does the idea of pairing beer with ice cream appeal to you? Join the club – it’s actually so popular that Draft Magazine covered popular beer float flavors, and even Betty Crocker has recipes available for beer lovers with something of a sweet tooth. There are a few things that you should know that will help ensure that your creation is a delicious sensation, rather than a frightening experience.

  • Darker beers pair better with darker ice creams. Porter and stout work well with chocolate and coffee flavored ice cream. With that being said, they also pair well with plain old vanilla as well. Feel free to experiment a little bit here, but you might want to avoid pairing dark beer with fruity ice cream. Opt for rocky road before raspberry.
  • Fruity beers pair well with fruity ice cream, as well as plain ice cream. For example, you might combine a raspberry shandy with vanilla, or with raspberry sorbet. Lemon shandy might pair well with lemon sorbet, or vanilla ice cream. Even chocolate can work well with some types of fruity beers.
  • Combine sweet with sweet. You’ll find a plethora of dessert themed beers out there (Southern Tier’s Crème Brulee Stout, for instance). These pair well with chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice cream. Rich, sweet and decadent, you’ll find these are amazing options to create a dessert with a difference.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can condense your favorite beer down into a syrup and use it to top your ice cream, rather than adding the beer directly to the bowl. This gives you more intense flavor, but less of it, and it also avoids the problem of having to mix the ice cream and beer together, which can be a messy process (unless you’re making a float, in which case use the beer directly).

Other Dessert Options

If you’re not a fan of ice cream, you’re not out in the cold when it comes to beer desserts. There are plenty of options available provided you don’t mind doing a little bit of work in the kitchen. Love beer and cake? Replace the milk in your cake or cupcake recipe with your favorite brew and see just how delicious dessert can truly be. From Bundt cakes to cupcakes to gingerbread cakes, you’ll discover that beer is a versatile cooking ingredient.

You can also turn your beer into a creamy pudding treat. Stout and porter work best here, but you can use other types as well. Brownies are just as easy to make with beer as they are with more traditional ingredients, and they turn out just as delectable. You can even make your own sorbet or brittle using your preferred brew. 

It’s a bold new world out there for beer lovers with a sweet tooth. Americans are finally catching on to what most of the world has known for a long time – beer isn’t just for drinking. It’s an important cooking ingredient, and it can make amazing desserts. You can have your beer and eat it, too!