When you think of beer, you probably think of BBQ or relaxing in the afternoon after the chores and errands are done for the day. But if I told you that beer and desserts are a great match, what would you say?
If you were at the 1st Beer Float showdown held at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood, then you will know how great beer pairs with ice cream and sorbet. On one side was The Golden State & Scoops. The Golden State is a great place for lunch but they have a great, focused beer menu as well as their famous Old Rasputin beer float. Scoops is renowned for their exotic flavors. I had their hefeweizen ice cream at the Los Angeles Craft Beer festival. The other side was BottleRock & Milk. If you haven’t been to BottleRock downtown then shame on you. They have great food and Alex Macy has a great tap selection to choose from. In full disclosure, Milk is my wife’s favorite ice cream in Los Angeles. If you haven’t had their banana ice cream then you are really missing something.
Now for the reviews. My criteria was to have a pairing where the beer and the ice cream complemented each other and one didn’t overpower the other. First up was Golden State with raspberry yuzu sorbet matched with The Bruery’s Berliner Weiss poured by Golden State proprietor Jason Bernstein. This was the most bold choice of the available choices. The sour of the Berliner matched the sweet and sour of the raspberry well. But in the end, the raspberry yuzu shone brighter than the beer. The sorbet was great and the lovely Berliner Weiss couldn’t quite keep up.
Next was St. Bernardus 12 with Toffee Coffee ice cream. This is an excellent combination. The roast and power of the beer matched very well with the coffee notes in the ice cream. The beer brought coffee and alcohol notes and the ice cream had coffee and sweetness. The overlap really worked well. The bits of toffee added a crunch that really brought it all together.
Third on the list was the Old Rasputin with the famous Brown Bread ice cream. I have never had the Brown Bread before and I was a bit wary. I was also intrigued by the choice of Old Rasputin. It is a very powerful beer and I did not think you could find something to work with it. But this was my surprise of the night. It was an excellent blend. The Old Rasputin was balanced very well. The ice cream was quite delicious.
Finally I had more Toffee Coffee from Milk but with Samichlaus from 2006. This was similar to the St. Bernardus but with a little less distinctive notes. They also had a vanilla bean ice cream with Allegash Curieux. The Belgian tripel is good but a little thin even in comparison with a vanilla ice cream. But this may mean that Milk’s ice cream is just too good.
So, my favorite is close but the St. Bernardus wins by a nose over the Old Rasputin. The winner of the night was The Golden State + Scoops.
This homework is easy. Go to Golden State or BottleRock and try their beer floats. It is a taste unlike anything you have had before. And if you want extra credit, make your own float. What is your favorite beer? What is your favorite ice cream? What about a cherry lambic with vanilla ice cream? Maybe a porter made with coffee and chocolate? Try a few. Mix and match. You will not be let down.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.