As temperatures continue to soar, there’s nothing more satisfying than an ice-cold beer or a cool ice cream treat.
So why not combine both?
Grown-up floats are one of the newest — and certainly tastiest — summer dessert/drink trends. Mix ice cream, gelato or custard with hard sodas or beer, and you’re sipping childhood nostalgia from a big-kid glass.
Spin Neapolitan Pizza’s summer menu features alcoholic and nonalcoholic floats. For the grown-up floats, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Coney Island Hard Orange Cream Ale or Best Damn Cherry Cola, all beer-based beverages, mix well with any of the gelato flavors, but customers also have been increasingly asking for KC Bier Co.’s Dunkel, too.
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“These really take floats to the next level,” operations manager Jeff Lee said. “It’s like taking you back to your childhood, but something for an adult to enjoy.”
One of the most popular pairings is Not Your Father’s Root Beer with Tahitian Vanilla gelato, similar to a classic root beer float but with a twist. Another favorite is the Coney Island Orange Cream Ale with Tahitian Vanilla gelato, which tastes like a Dreamsicle.
While the classics are an easy go-to, Lee has experimented with other creative combinations. He likes Best Damn Cherry Cola with Chocolate Chunk Marshmallow gelato, which is reminiscent of chocolate-covered cherries. For teetotalers, Lee suggests Izze’s Blackberry Soda with Blueberry Butter Cookie gelato.
Lee also has been in charge of teaching the staff how to pour the perfect float. Floats require heaping scoops of gelato to create the base. Tilt the glass slightly while pouring the hard sodas and beer to make sure there’s a peak of foam on top.
For Elizabeth Bremser, owner of Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard in Brookside, the key to a perfect float is a custard base because it is buttery and dense and holds up well when liquid is added.
Foo’s serves only nonalcoholic floats with a vanilla custard base. Bremser sells her custard by the pint to customers and businesses to mix with hard sodas and beer.
“People like floats because it makes them nostalgic and reminds them of the old soda fountains,” Bremser said.
While Betty Rae’s has been open for only four months, owner David Friesen said the Waldo ice cream shop has been busier than he ever imagined. And the shop is about to get even busier now that it has secured a liquor license.
Friesen, who has put together partnerships with KC Bier Co. and Cinder Block Brewery, will offer a variety of beer and liquor to serve with his homemade ice creams.
He is already imagining a White Russian milkshake. “I really want customers to try different ice cream flavors, sodas, beers and liquors,” Friesen said. “I want them to explore and come up with their own satisfying treat.”
Friesen said he is preparing to start selling boozy treats on Friday, Aug. 12, and will have a new menu posted soon.
You can sample the grown-up floats offered around town, or you can try your hand at making your own.
Local food journalist Jonathan Bender shares a recipe for a beer milkshake and a beer syrup from his cookbook “Cookies & Beer.”
The beer syrup has only two ingredients: 12 ounces of dark beer (Bender recommends a stout or a porter) and a half-cup of turbinado sugar (like raw sugar). Using granulated sugar is fine, but turbinado sugar gives it more of a caramel flavor, according to Bender. He uses the beer syrup to make a beer shake.
“The shake has good creaminess, but you can still get it through a straw,” said Bender, who writes the Recommended Daily food blog. “Each sip has a nice flavor balance. As long as the ratios are the same, you can mix in any flavors you’d like.”
Makes about 4 ounces
12 ounces dark beer (stout or porter)
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
In a large nonstick saucepan, bring the beer to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. As soon as the beer boils, reduce the heat to medium-low. The beer needs to be simmering with small bubbles on the surface, but not frothy. Simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 3 or 4 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. The beer will begin to thicken as it reduces and may get slightly darker in color.
After 30 minutes, stir every 2 to 3 minutes to keep the reduction from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the beer into a heat-resistant bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl. Stir with a whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool completely, about 90 minutes. The syrup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Per 1-ounce serving: 132 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 28 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 5 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.
Makes 1 milkshake
The beer syrup adds a caramely hint to a classic version of a black and white milkshake. Thick, rich and satisfying, this shake is a winner of a dessert.
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 ounces chocolate syrup
2 ounces Beer Syrup
In a blender, combine the ice cream, milk, chocolate syrup and beer syrup and blend on medium speed until smooth.
NOTE: This is a base recipe that you can adjust with different flavors of ice cream and ratios of chocolate (or other flavors) to beer syrup. You can combine vanilla (or butter pecan) ice cream with salted caramel syrup (sometimes called caramel topping) to make a slamming caramel shake, peanut butter ice cream with chocolate syrup for a classic peanut butter chocolate shake, or mint chocolate chip with hot fudge topping for a luscious mint chocolate shake. Just keep the 4-to-1 ratio of ice cream to milk the same, and the rest will work just fine.
Per milkshake: 969 calories (31 percent from fat), 34 grams total fat (21 grams saturated), 133 milligrams cholesterol, 156 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 307 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
From “Cookies & Beer” (Andrews McMeel) by Jonathan Bender