Beer Float Social
Son Beer Love’s wife was recently reading a Southern Living and noted an article on beer ice cream floats. The article detailed that beer floats were the perfect Southern experience on a hot summer day. She said “You and your dad have to do this!” And that is just one of the many reasons I love my wife.
So dad and I set out on planning our ice cream beer float day logistics. Which ice cream? Which beers? Which glasses? The ice cream brand was the easy part – we knew we had to do Blue Bell, but it came down to which flavor? We opted at first for Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean, but we quickly found out that Son Beer Love couldn’t find this in his local market in Charlotte, NC (Father Beer Love lives one state over from the Blue Bell headquarters so they actually deliver directly to his house). So we called an audible and went with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla instead, which is the most popular ice cream in Blue Bell’s lineup and with good reason.
Now that we had our ice cream it was onto the beers. At first we thought five beers would be good but then we thought it would be too much (see our infamous Strawberry Beer Menage a Trois for proof that too much good can be no good). “We must be scientific!” we said as we banged our fists on the table, furrowed our brows and made stern faces. So we settled on three beers that we had already rated here on the site – Guinness, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Wild Blue. Wild Blue only comes in bottles, but for the others we opted for cans, which as we all know, beats the bottles. We stored them at fridge temperatures as we thought letting the beers warm up to the recommended serving temperature would be counterintuitive to the whole polar ice cream caps melting phenomenon we hear so much about.
Guinness seemed like a natural choice – already a very creamy beer we thought it could only get creamier. Young’s Double Chocolate seemed the most likely candidate to win the whole contest, as it is one of our top sessionable go-to beers. Chocolate and vanilla? Why yes, don’t mind if we do. Wild Blue was a late choice for us but the combination of blueberry and ice cream sounded pretty great – we’re known for having blueberry pie and ice cream in lieu of birthday cake in our household, so why not?
As our last executive decision we chose snifters for our glassware. This mostly had to do with the fact that we knew we each had three snifters and only had two of most of the other required beer receptacles (goblets, pints, shakers, tulips and weizens being the other state mandated beer glasses). In hindsight the goblets would have been the better choice because of the wider opening, but we’re not complaining.
Now that we had made all our CEO level decisions, it was time for the review. We opted for the Friday before the 4th of July – July 2, 2010. Going into the challenge our hypothesis was that Young’s Double Chocolate would easily be the hands down winner. Yes, we got all scientific method on these beer floats and had a hypothesis. Of course forming a hypothesis was the only step of the scientific method we could remember and we were too lazy to Google “scientific method” to figure out what the real steps were. For our example they will be 1) form a hypothesis, 2) drink beer, 3) jump to conclusions, 4) rinse, 5) repeat.
Father Beer Love did a dry run the evening before to get some “best practices” for the real thing. We came to the conclusion that to avoid the issue of beer foaming you had to pour the beer first, then put the ice cream on top of that. Using this method provided the most scientific results, we felt. In our snifters we wound up pouring in about 4 or 5 ounces of beer and then loading 2 to 3 scoops of ice cream on top of that. Worked great.
Now it should be noted that though we’ll present these notes linearly, we in fact did nothing linear during our test. We’re not even sure what linear means. We would try one beer float, move on to the next, jump to the next, go back to the original, ad infinitum.
We started with Young’s Double Chocolate – our hypothesized winner. Our notes:
- The vanilla ice cream dominates the bite and overpowers the chocolate
- You get a pretty firm kick of bitter on the aftertaste
- Not as enjoyable as we thought it would be
- The “broth” (beer with no ice cream) is not great alone – you need a good amount of ice cream with each bite to tame the bitter edge
- It gets more enjoyable after the ice cream matriculates its way through the glass
- A good trick was to get some beer scooped off the bottom of the glass with each bite
Next up was Wild Blue, the blueberry beer du jour. Our notes:
- Wow! That really pops!
- The least bitter of all the beers – there is a tiny amount of bitterness in the end, but that’s it
- Great combination of blueberry and vanilla – like a blueberry pie a la mode
- The “broth” is good by itself
- Really, really enjoyable and the 8% ABV of Wild Blue makes it that much better
Last up was Guinness. Our notes:
- Not bad – better than we thought it would be
- It was less bitter than you’d expect, considering it’s Guinness (especially with ice cream in the bite)
- The subtle coffee notes really worked well with the vanilla – quite good!
- More subdued than the Young’s Double Chocolate
Much to our surprise, Young’s Double Chocolate was not the winner. Here’s our final vote:
- Wild Blue
- Young’s Double Chocolate
That’s right, Wild Blue was the outright winner – the fruit and vanilla combination was too much for the other beers. It should be noted that we struggled back and forth on whether Guinness or Young’s Double Chocolate was the outright number two. They were both very good, just not as good as we expected. In the end it was Young’s by a whisker (it got better as the ice cream had more time to work with it). You really can’t go wrong with either of them. Side note: I don’t think my stomach has ever been so full as it has after three beer floats. A definite bellyache of a night, but good nonetheless.
So if you get brave enough to enjoy a beer ice cream float this summer, our recommendations on making it a good experience:
- Get a good, strong vanilla ice cream as your base
- Pour the beer first, then put the ice cream on top
- Use a regular beer pint glass or goblet if you’re going to use authentic beer glasses
- Make sure you put in enough ice cream to have some ice cream in every bite, as the “broth” may not stand well alone
- Scoop off the bottom when you can as the flavors have had more time to meld together
- Fruit beers are good, as are beers with chocolate and coffee notes
- Porters might be better than stouts (just a theory)
- The longer the beer and ice cream co-exist together the better the flavor gets
- It might almost be best to put some ice cream in the beer and let it melt to marry the flavors together first, then load it up with lots of ice cream on top of that to create the smoothest possible beer float
We hope you get to try a beer float this summer – it’s a great change of pace from your normal beer routine and you’ll feel a little giddy doing something naughty like mixing beer and ice cream together. Here’s to summer!
* Special thanks to Wife Beer Love for both the idea of the beer floats and for taking pictures of me and dad during the beer float challenge. And also for being a great wife and mother to our child. And countless other things.
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