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Beer for Dessert

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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: How to get your drink and dessert in at the same time (+ Alice's 7 favorite beers for the occasion).

Beer floats are nothing new to craft beer drinkers and beer pub regulars, but these sensational desserts deserve a bigger stage. Some really serious beer people may frown at the idea of spoiling a good brew with ice cream, but we are dessert people here, right?  

If you’ve never tried a beer float made with a great beer, you are missing a serious flavor trip and some real sensory drama, right to the bottom of the glass.  

For the best experience, step away from Big Beer (or anything you drank in college). Try something special, including American craft beers, wheat beers, Belgian (especially doubles and triples), or Belgian-style beers, brown ales, etc.  

One final note to fellow lovers of bitter hoppy beer (you so-called hopheads): save your IPAs for sipping -- they don’t play nicely in floats because the ice cream makes them taste even more bitter. Instead, seek out beers with rich flavors of malt, caramel, or molasses, with hints of banana and baking spices.

Here is a quirky list of 7 great beers that make 7 very different but sensational floats. Add a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and a soda spoon to the glass. You’ll never look back. 

  • Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse 
  • Hoegaarden Wit-Blanche (wheat beer) 
  • Maredsous Triple 10 (tripel) 
  • Chimay Blue Cap ale
  • Maredsous 8 Brune (dubbel) 
  • Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale 
  • Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock) -- This last is strong and delicious, but definitely not for a beer neophyte or anyone faint of heart!

Alice's most recent book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, doles out delicious dessert recipes that don't take hours of prep (a lot of them don't even require turning on the oven) -- everything from lattice-free linzer to one-bowl French chocolate torte.


Photos by James Ransom

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Tags: Beer, Alcohol, Dessert, Bake, Alice Medrich