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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
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Beer in ice cream often elicits nothing more than "eeeeuu" from disgusted devotees of the pure cold creamy dessert.

But as many brew pubs and restaurants are discovering, beer in ice cream can make a refreshing change of pace from that ubiquitous brewpub finale, cheesecake. Instead, try a scoop of raspberry lambic sorbet served in a stemmed Belgian glass... or a triple decker treat, a la Fred Eckhardt: fudgy brownie, vanilla ice cream and porter poured on top!

Sweet cream, whipped and frozen smooth, is a perfect foil for malty, slightly bitter flavors of beer. Blended with chocolate, or tropical fruits, beer can be a good stand-in for other liquids in the typical recipe for ice cream.

Most ice creams start with a cream or dairy base: skimmed evaporated milk, custard, whole milk, yogurt or half and half.

Add a sweetener, such as white or brown sugar, or even a reduced wort or malt extract syrup.

Blend with a binder of some sort--eggs, gelatin, cornstarch or rice flour--especially if the recipe will incorporate fresh ripe berries or cut fruit. Cook the blend (a necessary step if raw eggs are used).

Add other flavors (vanilla, chocolate, beer), stir well and chill. For best results, the cream base should be well chilled before freezing.

"It's a little tricky to make a smooth, creamy malt ice cream from reduced wort," said Darren Chadderdon, a former chef at Gordon Biersch's Palo Alto brewpub in a phone interview. "If there is too much sugar in the wort, it will interfere with the fine ice crystal formation that you want in a frozen dessert." Chadderdon experimented with pure malt ice creams, as well as a Maibock Wine Sorbet. "The wine added another layer of flavor to the sorbet, which made it even better."

Other chefs have experimented with freezing fruit lambics for refreshing ices, or intermezzo sorbets served between courses. In Jamaica, I once sampled a delicious granita made by freezing Dragon Stout with sweetened lime juice syrup. At Chicago's Goose Island the chef devised a trio of Timmermans sorbets: kriek, peche and framboise. Charles Finkel has tasted Lindemans lambics made into sorbets at beer tasting dinners held across the country.

Brewpubs aside, other restaurateurs develop frozen desserts with beer. At the April 2002 Craft Brewers Conference in Cleveland, the Metropolitan Cafe restaurant created a special malted vanilla ice cream made with swirls of golden malt extract.

Still other brewers prefer to drink, not eat, their beer. Brendan Moylan of California, says, "I'd rather have a beer with dessert, than a dessert made with beer. For instance, a raspberry-infused beer goes great with a chocolate and raspberry dessert."

Remember to follow manufacturers directions to freeze recipes (crushed ice really makes a difference in the old salt-and-ice bucket makers). Prepare the recipe 12 to 24 hours ahead of serving time, to let the ice cream ripen in the freezer.

Raspberry Lambic Ice Cream

Speedy Stout Mocha Freeze

Apricot Ale Frozen Custard

Spicy Spiked Ice Cream

The original, longer version of this article appeared in Beer: The Magazine.



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