Beer-flavored ice creams are on the rise, fueled by a booming craft beer movement and its also-thriving dairy parallel, locally made gourmet ice creams. We took to the freezer aisle and tried three different beer ice creams (all non-alcoholic, in contrast to some specifically 21+ ice creams made in other states). Our three flavors were made by two local brands working with three microbreweries. Each pint costs approximately $7 and can be found at various co-ops and Kowalski’s.
Izzy’s Summit Oatmeal Stout
The Summit Oatmeal Stout ice cream flavor tastes exactly like the head on the namesake draught. It’s creamy, smooth, and not as sweet as your average ice cream. In fact, the umami almost takes over and leaves a meaty flavor in the mouth, not unlike the experience you have while drinking a Guinness dry stout. The ice cream is made with a beer reduction, thus eliminating the alcohol and leaving behind a sweet extract that serves as the backbone of the flavor. It is ideal in smaller portions, as a savory accent to a scoop of conventionally sweet ice cream.
We thought this ice cream would pair well with Lefthand’s Milk Stout in the form of a beer float, and we were not wrong. The sweet maltiness of the beer plays off the almost breadlike mouthfeel to accent the caramel and coffee notes of both. As the ice cream melts and mixes with the beer, the two liquids become one, to make an excellent beer shake with balanced malt and bitterness.
Sweet Science Stout Oat Crunch
Stout Oat Crunch is made with a reduction of Fulton’s Worthy Adversary. Profoundly beer-flavored, this is the sweetest and most complex of the three ice creams we tried. It has the strong bitter finish and deep malted chocolate notes of the Russian Imperial Stout. The “crunch” part of the ice cream is rolled oats, which add a delightful textural element to the ice cream experience. This is a beer-lover’s ice cream, and would make an excellent final course to a beer dinner.
Sweet Science Honey Chamomile Ale
The newest flavor Sweet Science has to offer evokes the beer’s flavor in a sweeter, nuttier way. It uses Tin Whiskers Wheatstone Bridge Ale in a reduction, to make a caramel swirl. The beer’s complex pineapple notes (from the chamomile tea) are somewhat lost, but the reduction adds an elegant simplicity to the overall texture.
It feels as if this ice cream, more than the others we tried, was intended to allude to the overall experience of beer in ice-cream form, creating its own unique flavor rather than paying homage to the beer by fully replicating it. It is less bitter, less malty, and more kid-friendly than the other two.
Also Worth Noting: Sebastian Joe’s in Uptown and Linden Hills occasionally makes a Surly-based ice cream with a caramel swirl.