DO NOT SHAKE your head in disgust or pity when I tell you that today's column is about beer floats. Instead, grab some real ice cream and try one for yourself. Just pour half a bottle of any decent brew into a glass, plop in a scoop and dip in with a spoon. Believe me - it's that simple.
True, the beer float seems a desecration. Deflowering a perfectly innocent bowl of vanilla ice cream with an adult beverage is likely illegal in several states.
But beer and ice cream were destined for each other, as underscored by a fortuitous development this year that saw new dessert brands from two local breweries, Yuengling and Victory.
Yuengling, as old, old, old old-timers will recall, first made ice cream 75 years ago to survive Prohibition. The current selection is produced by a separate branch of the Pottsville beer-making family and includes 10 flavors, though none made with beer.
It's in Victory's new lineup of flavors, meanwhile, where you taste the obvious marriage between beer and ice cream. Its creamy varieties are made with the wort (unfermented beer) of three of its popular styles:
* Hopped Up Devil complements the hops of HopDevil IPA with cinnamon, cayenne, coffee and chocolate.
* Storm Drop doubles down on the chocolatey body of Storm King Imperial Stout with even more chocolate.
* Triple Monkey, with Golden Monkey, marries the sweet and aromatic Belgian-style tripel with banana and pecan swirl.
I know some of you are saying, "Yuck," so let me remind you that wort is predominantly flavored with malted barley. That's right, malt - as in the malt shop where Archie dipped his straw with Veronica and Betty.
Though malt is sweet, its flavor can be more complex than the cane sugar in typical ice cream. Thus, you can't taste a mouthful of Victory Storm Drop without thinking about a smooth pint of its famously strong, dark beer.
So, it's only natural to pop open a bottle and glug a few ounces over a scoop.
That's what Edward Strojan, chef/owner of the Victoria Freehouse in Old City, has been doing with his homemade Young's Double Chocolate Stout Ice Cream (recipe below). "The ice cream's chocolate is just so intense," he said, "and adding the stout just seems to make it even creamier."
The British-style pub will take the beer-and-ice cream thing a step further tonight with its sold-out Harry Potter Trivia Night. On the menu: floats made with the boy wizard's favorite treat, butterbeer.
Strojan poured me one version with a splash of Belhaven Scottish Ale that was as smooth and creamy as a DQ Blizzard, an adult treat on a hot July afternoon.
I know, I know - still having your doubts. But as Ma Sixpack told us at the dinner table, "How do you know if you don't give it a try?"
That's why I'll be dishing up free beer floats Friday 8/1 at Bell Beverage (South Philly), from 4 to 6 p.m. Have a Lindemans Framboise and a dollop of Bassetts vanilla; a Southern Tier Pumking with cinnamon, graham crackers and butter pecan; a Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and rich chocolate.
Or, just experiment. Here are a few I've enjoyed: Redhook Long Hammer IPA with Yuengling Mint Chocolate Chip; Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA with Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra; Troegs Troegenator Double Bock with Turkey Hill Salted Caramel; and 21st Amendment Monk's Blood with Talenti Caramel Apple Pie.
EDWARD STROJAN adapted this recipe from America's Test Kitchen.
VICTORIA FREEHOUSE YOUNG'S DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
1 vanilla bean, split
3 1/2 cups cream
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 egg yolks
40 ounces chocolate stout
4 heaping tablespoons molasses
12 ounces dark chocolate
Splash of brewed coffee
Chill an 8- or 9-inch-square metal baking pan in freezer.
Combine vanilla bean and seeds with cream, milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup and salt in saucepan and heat while stirring until mixture is steaming (175 degrees). Remove saucepan from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk 1 cup heated cream mixture into egg yolk mixture, return to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until thickened.
Immediately pour custard into large bowl with chocolate bars and stir to melt. Let cool. Transfer 1 cup custard to small bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place large bowl in refrigerator and small bowl in freezer and cool completely, at least four hours.
In a medium saucepan, heat beer, coffee and molasses slowly till mixture is reduced by a quarter. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and refrigerate to cool.
Take out custards and cooled stout mixture and combine into the large bowl of custard. Stir until frozen custard fully dissolves.
Strain custard through fine-mesh strainer and transfer to ice-cream machine. Churn until mixture resembles thick soft-serve ice cream and registers 21 degrees. Transfer to frozen baking pan and press plastic wrap on surface. Return to freezer until firm around edges, about 1 hour.
Transfer ice cream to airtight container, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Serve.
Ice cream can be stored for up to 5 days.
"Joe Sixpack" is written by Don Russell. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at joesixpack.net. Email: email@example.com.