Beer Ice Cream

by Amy Tarr
August 2005

It’s no revelation that chefs are finding new inspiration for their desserts from the myriad savory ingredients in the kitchen used for the rest of the menu. Not only is the walk-in now fair game, but so is the bar, and more specifically, the keg. Pioneering chefs like Joël Antunes in Atlanta, as well as Eric Bertoia and Galen Zamarra in New York, are churning out batches of brew-flavored ice cream, an unusual application of America’s favorite beverage.

Beer’s broad range presents unlimited possibilities for ice cream and dessert pairings. The crisp bitterness of a light-bodied lager pairs well with tart summer fruits, whereas the rich malted character of a creamy stout works well with a dark chocolate cake. Chef Bertoia serves his cherry Kriek beer ice cream with roasted bing cherries and almond nougatine, while Chef Zamarra pairs his stout ice cream with a chocolate glazed flan sprinkled with Jordan almonds.

With the recent explosion of microbreweries throughout the country which produce subtly flavored beers that incorporate layers of dessert-oriented flavors like honey, pumpkin, raspberry, and lemon, these specialty beers are practically begging to be spun in an ice cream machine. You can serve it straight up, or you can steer this trend in another direction entirely and pair beer ice cream with a savory item on your menu.