As important as it is to find the right beer for your burger, matching the right beer to your favorite ice cream is the only way to insure that you'll be able to make damn great ice cream floats... and you need to be confident in your capability to make a damn great ice cream float at any moment. Knowing this is a huge self-esteem builder. Now, it can be a little difficult to pinpoint the perfect pairing of these two cool and exceptionally satisfying summer standbys, because some brews will definitely clash and create a firestorm in the glass. But worry not, we're fairly well-versed in pouring beer over most anything you can imagine. Here are the most beautiful ways to combine your favorite brews and scoops.
When you pour beer over ice cream, a fizzy and fantastic concoction occurs. A beer float is simply an adult twist on the classic root beer dessert. The alcoholic version is more bitter than the kid-friendly rendition (how appropriate), but the ice cream balances the slight edge gracefully--as long as you put it with the right beer.
Stout/Porter/Coffee Stout: Naturally, darker beers work really well with a diversity of ice cream flavors. They offer a strong flavor structure, depth, and body that can easily support the creaminess of your favorite summer ice cream. Dark beers aren't typically the kind you want to pair with dinner because of their heavy nature, like this Espresso Stout, but a dark pour is perfect for an after-dinner dessert cocktail. If you have coffee, caramel, or chocolate chip ice cream, you're set for a fantastic beer float. In stores, look for a dark beer such as Guinness for this effortless combo.
IPA - While it's a little harder to find an ice cream that pairs well with an IPA's hoppy and sometimes more spicy attitude, great matches do exist. Find an IPA with sweet citrus or fruit notes, then pour it over a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream or a fruity sorbet for a ultra refreshing summer treat. Be sure to keep it light, though. Something like rich chocolate ice cream can easily weigh down an IPA and create an unpleasant sour flavor.
Summer Ales - Seasonal ales, like a Sam Adam's Summer Ale, typically contain bright and fresh citrus notes woven into the flavor of the beer, which would pair nicely with a tropical or floral citrus ice cream flavor, like coconut, key lime pie, or even lemon sherbet. Summer Shandies work well here too, like these picks from Leinenkugel's.
Lager - Ok chocoholics, if you're not a huge fan of a rich stout pairing like the ones listed above, you can reach for a lager, such as Sam Adam's Boston Lager or Guinness Dark Lager, which make for great partners to super chocolatey ice cream flavors. Because a lager is lighter than a stout and can sometimes be touch more bitter, it compliments the sweet and earthy notes of a pure chocolate ice cream very well.
If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you're unsure, you typically can't go wrong with trying out a few scoops of classic vanilla ice cream, just like in a classic root beer float, and see how you like it with the beer you're working with. A number of brands are likewise now looking to lend a hand in the pairing department, such as Ben and Jerry's, who offers a collection of picks to go with New Belgium ales, or Sam Adams, who has an entire list of ice creams that go well with their brews.