(Cleveland County, North Carolina)
Written by Bernie Petit for shelbystar.com
You want beer. You want ice cream.
Why not have both?
The fall is filled with craft beers brewed with cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar and other traditional flavors of the season. Combine one of these tasty brews with two or three scoops of premium vanilla ice cream – or better yet, one of the quality pumpkin ice creams that you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store this time of year – and you’ve got a beer float reminiscent of a pumpkin pie.
Big, amber, spicy seasonal beers with zests of caramel and molasses are better options for Oktoberfest-inspired beer floats than the conventional German-style Marzen beers, which can be a bit skunky. Opt for a higher ratio of ice cream to beer.
That’s about it as far as directions go in this fun experiment. For my first attempt, I poured a bottle of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale over scoops of vanilla ice cream and the results were flavorful. The thick beer float foam is the first thing that stands out about the concoction and makes for a surprisingly delicious first bite. The pumpkin and spices from the beer melds well with the vanilla ice cream.
However, if you can get your hands on a good pumpkin ice cream, doubling up on the pumpkin flavor really is the way to go. For my next two floats, I paired pumpkin ice cream with Dogfish Head Punkin first and then with Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. The beers give the floats nice fizz and pop without overpowering the ice cream’s natural taste and the melted pumpkin ice cream works better with the beers than does the vanilla.
That said, the only real problem is you’re unlikely to find a beer as sweet as the soft drinks used in regular floats, which means you don’t get the syrupy goodness you get when you spoon the final bites of the mixture out of your glass. The bitterness of the beer, when contrasted to the sweetness of the ice cream, isn’t for everybody. Still, for adventurous beer lovers, scooping, pouring and downing beer floats offers a world of tasty possibilities.