The combination of beer and ice cream may seem an odd pairing. But, those adventurous enough to give it a try will be happily surprised. It’s really an adult version of a root beer float.
Stouts were originally developed in Britain, as a “stouter” version of the London Porter. This style is made with roasted barley to impart a coffee-like flavor; sometimes described like bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate. Stouts are brewed in several different substyles—dry stout is the Irish style; Guinness is the best-known example. Boulevard Brewing Co. produces one of these, that is very similar to the import. Dry stout is a light-bodied beer, with fewer calories and carbs than most other styles—a fact that astonishes most. One popular drink combo using dry stout is a “Black & Tan,” that demonstrates the ability of dry stout to float on top of other beers. Other stout styles include sweet stout, oatmeal stout, and American stout. My very first homebrew was an oatmeal stout, made with a friend who makes some excellent stouts. A bigger version of stout is called “Imperial Stout.” It was originally a beer brewed by the English to export to the Baltic states, and was well-liked in the Russian Imperial Court. This Imperial style has become very popular in recent years. Gomer's Liquors (Lee's Summit) carries many new brands of Imperial stouts.
I selected three different brands of stout for pairing with ice cream: Boulevard’s Dry Stout, Bell’s Expedition Imperial Stout, and Southern Tier Mokah Imperial Stout. The latter incorporates real coffee and bittersweet chocolate into the beer. With 4 oz cups, I offered tastes of the three stouts first. Several were not familiar with stout, and were truly surprised that what they were tasting was beer. Friends were invited to choose their favorite combination. Most tasters selected the Mokah stout for pairing with ice cream; one friend watching her calories and carbs chose to only enjoy the Boulevard Dry Stout. Then, I added a small scoop of ice cream that I prepared with Mexican vanilla in an electric freezer (homemade ice cream is superior in flavor and texture to most commercial brands). As the ice cream melts, these floats become more like “shakes”. What a wonderful summertime treat—“How now, brown cow!”
It is also possible to make stout-flavored ice cream using a reduction (concentrated from boiling off the water) for the flavoring—rather than vanilla. A homebrewer friend of mine says this is the bomb! I’ll try it the next time I make ice cream, and share the recipe.
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