Well, okay, not exactly drunk. Just happy. Because beer ice cream. WHAT. This stuff is good (and I think many non beer lovers would agree).
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of an afternoon at the Clarkshaws Brewery open day. If you were there, I probably talked to you. I don't remember. What I do remember is the beer ice cream, which I haven't been able to get out of my mind. I knew a vegan version needed to exist so that I could taste it.
Three frozen treats were concocted: IPA ice cream, chocolate stout ice cream, and chocolate stout chocolate sorbet. I've included recipes for the first two, but I'm not happy enough with the texture of the sorbet yet to share that recipe.
I started with the IPA and kept the ingredients list to a minimum just to see how the freezing would go and what the resulting texture would be. Alcohol inhibits freezing (and ice crystals, in small quantities) and I often add a tablespoon or two of vodka to a base to create a softer end result, but would it work when more than half of the liquid was beer?
The short answer is yes, with a texture that improved over a couple of days in the freezer, but while delicious it was still a little icy. I decided to opt for more fat and stabilisers in my next batch.
A brief explanation of xanthan gum
There's a big long chemical explanation behind the magic of xanthan gum, but I'll keep it short (and if this already sounds too complicated then tell yourself "because science" and skip to the recipe). This gum does a few things: it emulsifies (think best friend maker of fat and water), maintains air bubbles, and inhibits the formation of ice crystals.
The end result of using xanthan is a creamier, smoother, and richer product. Nearly every commercial ice cream utilises at least one gum in its preparation, so why shouldn't I?
Maybe I'll add more sugar next time (incidentally, sugar also inhibits ice crystal formation so never try to make low sugar ice cream by cutting it down because, again, science), but all in all I'm happy with how it turned out.
The beers should be interchangeable between recipes. Basically what you're looking for is a rich, bold beer. The flavour is marked but not in your face, and I think as such it would get lost completely with some dull big brand lager.
While xanthan will improve the texture of your ice cream, even with just a tiny quantity, you can make frozen desserts without its inclusion. The texture will be different and you may need to thaw your ice cream a tad before scooping, but the world won't end. 1/2 teaspoon may be overkill, but the texture is ace.
If you don't have access to glucose syrup (in the UK it's in the baking section of most large supermarkets) then corn syrup should suffice.
Considering these were experiments, the serving sizes are small and unmeasured. Maybe around 500 millilitres each.
Vegan IPA Beer Ice Cream
- 150 millilitres (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) rich IPA
- 105 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons glucose syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Couple pinches salt
- 260 millilitres (just over 1 cup) alpro soya cream
- Whisk beer for a minute to release any carbonation. Heat the flat beer in a small saucepan with the sugar, only until it dissolves. Add the vanilla extract, glucose syrup, and salt, stirring to combine. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, stir through the soya cream and refrigerate until cold (at least an hour, preferably several). Churn according to the instructions that came with your ice cream maker.
- Makes: 1-2 servings
- Cuisine: Fusion
Vegan Chocolate Stout Ice Cream
- ½ cup unsweetened soya milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 120 millilitres (½ cup) chocolate stout
- ½ teaspoon chocolate extract
- 50 grams (¼ cup) sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon glucose syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- Whisk the beer for a minute or so to release carbonation. Add the soya milk to a blender or liquidiser and, while on a medium to high speed, slowly drizzle in the oil to make a single cream.
- Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and sugar crystals are dissolved. Refrigerate for at least one hour but preferably more, until very cold. Churn according to the instructions that came with your ice cream machine.
- Makes: 1-2 servings
- Cuisine: Fusion