Barley + Rye: It’s bloody hot out so make yourself a beer float

Four pairings that never fail to please

Photograph by Osayi Endolyn

What’s better than crisp, refreshing summertime beer? Beer with ice cream, obviously. Some traditionalists balk at adulterating well-crafted brew, but I say bring on the scoop. Beer floats will certainly change the flavor of your beer, but done right, you can sense new notes, detect deeper flavors, and hopefully, cool off.

Peach-flavored beer with peach or tropical sorbet

Son of a Peach, the American wheat blend from RJ Rockers (South Carolina) is a great way to get in on our region’s summer fuzz love. Add in a heaping spoonful of the mango-peach sorbet from Atlanta-based Honeysuckle Gelato (made from scratch with whole fruits), and you won’t have anything to complain about. Another fun mash-up is Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale from Terrapin with a tropical-flavored frozen yogurt. Whichever way you go, keep it fruity and light for best results.

Stout beer with chocolate, coffee, or vanilla ice cream

If dark beers in the humid heat don’t tempt you, using them to make a beer float might make you think twice. Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout is popular for its full body, malty sweetness, and subtle coffee notes. The aroma alone has a slight vanilla vibe—its practically begging to be topped off with a frozen treat. Try the double dark chocolate gelato from Talenti (made in Georgia). Their blend of semisweet Belgian chocolate with a touch of vermouth makes this beer float absolutely decadent. If you really want to experiment, substitute craft beer based Frozen Pints ice cream—they do a great job with the malted milk chocolate stout flavor. There’s a slight risk here however—the beer base of the ice cream might not play nicely with the beer in your glass. Stick to like-styles for smoother sipping.

Fruit lambic with vanilla ice cream

My favorite option is raspberry—and I always go for Lindemans Framboise (it’s easy to find and tastes delicious)—but it’s unlikely you can go wrong with any lambic brewed with fruit. The raspberry aroma is heavenly, coupled with a mild acidity and good carbonation, perfect with a scoop or two of creamy vanilla. 

Hefeweizen or American wheat beer with vanilla ice cream

I’d heard about hefe-floats in the past, but they never swayed me as much as the fruitier, richer combinations previously mentioned. The flavor potential seemed too bland. I was wrong. Here’s the key—citrus notes. Think orange crème. For yours, try New Belgium’s Snapshot with its floral, citrusy aroma and zingy flavor. This one goes down easy. Really, really easy.