Celebrate National Ice Cream Day with beer floats and beer ice cream

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader/Hop Notes

In 1984, President Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.  What does ice cream have to do with beer?  Anything goes with beer, even ice cream.

Ever had a beer float? You may laugh, but they are delicious. Generally I prefer to make them with imperial stouts and coffee stouts with bigger malt bills and less hop forward flavors.

Here are a couple of suggestions for beer float combinations to try:

Summer is a great time for making ice cream in your own backyard. For many years, I used an old electric freezer that had been in the family for at least a couple of generations.

Two years ago, I decided to spring for the cat’s meow of freezers and purchased a White Mountain hand crank from John Hall’s Hardware, downtown Goshen. We use it often, and with the hand crank, it wears the kids down a bit if they have too much energy.

A good friend of mine from Kalamazoo, David Dejong, has been making his own beer ice cream for a year or so. First he lets the beer simmer to remove carbonation. Then he mixes in cream, egg yolks and sugar, and allows the mixture to chill overnight. The next day he churns the ice cream mixture, puts it back in the freezer for an hour or so, then it’s beer ice cream time!

He really likes the coffee beers as they work well and taste great, however, he is considering whether to try Founders Rubeas or Blushing Monk, both raspberry beers. His only concern is how acidic they are and if that would curdle the cream.

A few of the different beers that he has experimented with include Arbor Brewing Espresso Love, Founders Breakfast Stout, Founders Big Luscious, Southern Tier Creme Brulee, Dark Horse Blueberry Stout, Odd Sides Chocolade Koffee Stout and Saugatuck Neopolitan Milk Stout. New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk with caramel is next week. Another idea he has is to try a Buffalo Trace Bourbon/butterscotch blend. 

Since my wife grew up in Plainwell, Plainwell Ice Cream has been one of our favorite ice cream stops for many years. In the past, they have made beer ice cream for a couple of different customers. Several years ago, before Mark Sellars of Hop Cat owned Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Plainwell Ice Cream Company made porter pecan, using malt extract provided by the brewery.  

About a year ago, they began making beer ice cream for the Central City Tap House using Atwater Vanilla Java Porter. With my luck, I just happened to walk into the ice cream shop as Dave Gaylord was finishing up his first batch. As far as I know, I was the first person to taste the finished product.  This ice cream made exclusively for Central City Tap House.

And since I mentioned another one of my favorite ice cream companies above, here is a collaboration between Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and New Belgium Brewing Company. According to an April 13 press release, both companies will release a beer in the fall called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale (6.3 percent ABV).

Additionally, the beer collaboration will benefit an organization called “Protect Our Winters,” which helps fight the effects of climate change on mountains. No word yet on if drinking the beer will be like chugging ice cream.

“Although our TTB filing for the beer is now public, specifics around the campaign are still in development,” said New Belgium director of sustainability, Jenn Vervier, in a press release. “At this time I can confirm that Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium are collaborating to raise awareness around issues we are passionate about, and that the results will be delicious.”

The Colorado-based craft brewer and famed ice cream maker are both registered Beneficial or “B Corporations.” B Corps are held to performance standards that are comprehensive and transparent, measuring a company’s impact on workers, suppliers, communities and the environment. Both organizations have been looking for ways to partner on a project that’s both tasty and meaningful.

“We’re big fans of New Belgium Brewery, their values, and their fun culture, and of course their beer” said Jay Curley, senior global marketing manager of Ben & Jerry’s. “We’re excited for the campaign we’ve developed together. When two B Corps collaborate our fans can expect something both delicious and impactful.”

An announcement later this year will detail the focus of the campaign and the specifics around the partnership.

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