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By Megan Westers
When it comes to summer treats, chances are you’re one of two types of people: the ice cream lover or the brew aficionado. If you’re like me, you have a deep love and appreciation for both during all times of the year. But when summer hits, it’s beer and ice cream all day, every day. Now, people are starting to mix the two, creating beer floats; a cool, creamy treat for nights by the lake (or on the couch).
So, the good news is out — beer floats are what everyone’s drinking this summer. The bad news is that you actually can screw up a beer float if made with the wrong beer or paired with the wrong ice cream. Because beer floats are more difficult than the concept implies, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when crafting your own.
Don’t: Assume that beer is the most important part of the float. The ice cream is the base of the drink and plays a huge role in the float. Think about choosing flavors that you would find in the types of beers that you prefer. If you enjoy fruity beers, you might want to choose a fruity ice cream. If you prefer coffee or chocolate flavored beers, choose a coffee or chocolate ice cream.
Do: Start by choosing your ice cream.
The ice cream flavor will determine which types of beers you can choose to pair it with. For example, if you want to stick with the more traditional vanilla ice cream, you can then pair it with a lot more beers than you can if you were to choose a chocolate-based ice cream or a fruity one.
Don’t: Choose light or extremely bitter beers. Many beer drinkers enjoy light beers as well as really hoppy, bitter beers, but these two extremes don’t typically work well for beer floats. In fact, they tend to fight against the flavors and textures that come with the ice cream. Many might come to the beer float concept with an “opposites attract” mentality, but this
is not the time or place. Bitter doesn’t pair well with sweet, and neither does the watered-down taste of a light beer.
Do: Choose heavier beers like stouts.
These beers tend to have a milder place on the bitterness scale, and come with lots of flavor. This, partnered with their creamier mouth feel, makes for a choice that pairs perfectly with ice cream.
Don’t: Rule out other kinds of ice cream. Dairy-free versions as well as sherbets and sorbets are great choices too. Again, similar flavors pair well with each other, so if you have an orange sherbet, it might work well with an Oberon, or some other orange/citrus flavored beer. Likewise, a coconut milk-based ice cream like Coconut Bliss Sorbet might work well with NoDa Brewing Company’s Coco Loco Porter.
Do: Get creative! The best way to figure out what you like when it comes to beer floats is to try a few combinations. Pick what you think might work well together and don’t stop till you find the perfect pairing.
Here in Michigan we are spoiled with great beer, so the options are endless when it comes to crafting your float.
These are a few recipes for some top concoctions, each made with Lansing Brews and the MSU Dairy Store’s ice cream.
Tiramisu Beer Float This espresso ice cream really brings out the tiramisu flavor in Ellison’s dessert-inspired stout.
2 scoops - MSU Dairy Store’s Honor’s Coffee Toffee 1 generous pour – Ellison Brewery’s Tiramisu Stout The Chocolate-lover’s Beer Float The enormous amount of chocolate coming from this decadent ice cream is balanced by LBC’s smooth, chocolate/ oatmeal brew.
2 scoops – MSU Dairy Store’s Dantonio’s Double Fudge Fake 1 generous pour – Lansing Brewing Company’s Velvet Villain Ale The Traditional Beer Float – Lansing Style This Madagascar bourbon vanilla ice cream really brings out the sweetness in this porter.
2 scoops – MSU Dairy Store’s Vanilla Bean ice cream 1 generous pour – Eaglemonk Pub and Brewery’s Delta Porter