Imagine the ice cream flavor possibilities when you—the homebrewer—are in control of the beer that goes into your ice cream recipe! The sky is truly the limit here, pairing interesting beer styles with usual (or maybe unusual) ice cream ingredients, like candies, confections, rich syrups and fruits.
Just take a look at I Scream, You Scream: It’s Craft Beer Ice Cream! featured on CraftBeer.com, which highlights some of the beer-y endeavors taken on by ice creameries and craft breweries across the nation.
Darker beers with lots of chocolate and coffee notes, like stouts, porters and brown ales, are usual suspects when it comes to making beer ice cream, but don’t limit yourself to just that! Pumpkin beers have been a popular choice, and even fruity sour beers have been used to make sorbets.
How Ice Cream is Made
As with homebrewing, making ice cream at home can be accomplished in a few different ways while achieving essentially the same end. The essence of any ice cream recipe starts with a mixture of cream (or milk) and some sort of sugar sweetener. This is mixed until the sugar is completely dissolved into solution, which sometimes requires the mixture to be stirred while heated at a low temperature. The sugary cream is then chilled and churned to introduce air into the ice cream and make it that signature fluffy consistency.
The most common way to make homemade ice cream involves using an ice cream maker appliance, which automatically churns the cream and sugar mixture while it’s gradually cooled. However, there are techniques to make homemade ice cream without needing specialized kitchen appliances (take a look at this video).
In some instances, the sugar-cream mixture is combined with egg to make a custard, which is then chilled and churned into a smooth consistency. Certain preservatives can also be used to extend shelf life, though this is more typical of commercially produced ice creams.
Beer Ice Cream Tips
Beer is not a standard ingredient in ice cream (though that is changing!), so use these tips from CraftBeer.com when incorporating beer into an ice cream recipe:
- Flatten out the beer by whisking it for a few minutes. Carbonation has the tendency to negatively affect the texture of ice cream.
- Avoid the temptation to cook the beer down into a reduction before adding it to the ice cream. It’s recommended to add the beer as-is (taking into account tip #1).
- Don’t use too much beer! The alcohol in beer can also affect the ice cream’s ability to settle, and ultimately impact its texture. If you think the beer contribution amount is appropriate but want creamier ice cream, try adding a little more sugar into the sugar-cream mixture.
- Use high-quality beer! Whether it’s homebrewed beer of your own creation or a store-bought craft beer, a recipe can only turn out as great as its ingredients.
Beer Ice Cream Recipes
Head over to CraftBeer.com for a selection of homemade beer ice cream recipes. You can make these beer ice cream recipes as-is or use them as a starting point to develop an understanding of the beer ice cream making process and adopt it to fit the homebrew style and ice cream flavor you are after!
Sources: CraftBeer.com; NewBelgium.com; BenJerry.com