My favorite style of beer at the moment is a Belgian Tripel. I don’t know a tremendous amount about beer, but as I understand it, there’s a particular strain of yeast in Belgian ales that creates the unique flavor profile that I love — kind of a faint banana, vanilla, cotton candy sweetness. Tripels are high-ABV beers with a big mouthfeel, but they still have a fairly light body — making them great either with food or as a refreshing beverage on their own.
The Tripel I’ve been drinking the most of lately is the “Act of Faith” from Waco’s own Brotherwell Brewing. I thought about beer ice cream all summer, and finally decided to pull the trigger by using the Act of Faith to create a flavor that would replicate a Raspberry Framboise.
A framboise is a Belgian lambic beer fermented with raspberries (“framboise” is French for raspberry), so I thought Brotherwell’s Belgian Tripel would lend itself perfectly to this first experiment in homemade beer ice cream. Fortunately for me, I just so happen to be friends with the brewers, Jacob and David, who hooked me up with a small growler to take home and tinker with.
As you might expect, you need quite a bit more beer to create a strong flavor in ice cream than you would distilled liquor. This means that you have to compensate for the higher water content to prevent an icy texture — which is done by reducing the beer over heat in order to concentrate the liquid. Cooking down the beer heightens the beer flavor while evaporating out much of the water content; it’s a simple process, and aside from stirring the sugar in, all you really need to do is keep an eye on the volume in order to take it off heat at the right time as it simmers and reduces.
To complete the framboise flavor, you’ll combine the cooked (and chilled) beer with the ice cream base and a raspberry compote. Put it all together, and you have a complex, refreshing, and just-a-little-boozy fruit ice cream that is sure to help cool down a summer evening.
I went back by the brewery with a pint in hand to let Jacob and David sample the flavor their beer helped create and get some photos. If you look closely, you can see that it was mostly empty after about three minutes of taking pictures. I don’t want to make any promises, but Jacob did say after his first bite that Brotherwell might need to start brewing a framboise of their own now.
- 1 pint milk
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
- 4 eggs
- Pinch of sea salt
- 9 oz raspberries
- 2 cups (1 pint) Brotherwell Act of Faith Tripel (or other Belgian style ale)
- Combine milk, cream, 1 cup of cane sugar, and sea salt in a medium stock pot or saucepan. Stirring frequently (especially until mixture is fully combined), heat to 160˚F, and turn off heat.
- Crack the 4 eggs, separating the egg yolks into a small bowl and disposing of the whites and shells. Whisk together the egg yolks with 1/4 cup cane sugar. Using a ladle or measuring cup, temper the eggs by slowly pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot base into the eggs, while whisking constantly, until the egg/sugar/hot base mixture loosens up. Then pour the mixture back into the base, whisking constantly.
- After the egg mixture has been fully incorporated into the base, turn the heat back on medium-high. Stirring frequently, bring the base to 170˚ F and turn off heat.
- Pour the cooked based through a fine mesh strainer and into a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator and allow to chill, uncovered, until the base is cool to the touch, stirring occasionally to decrease cooling time.
- Meanwhile, place the raspberries in a small stockpot or saucepan and cover with 1/4 cup of the cane sugar. Toss the combination to coat the fruit evenly in sugar, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until the water has cooked out and the compote is thick and sticky like jam, 20-30 min (see the Cooking Fruit page for instructions and tips on cooking fruit).
- Meanwhile (or after the raspberry compote is finished, depending on your dish situation and ability to multitask), combine the pint of beer and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small stockpot. Bring to a gentle simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning, until the mixture has reduced to about 3/4 cup. Pour into a small jar or bowl and allow to chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, until cool to the touch.
- When the raspberry compote has reduced and thickened to the point that it holds its shape for a moment when it is stirred, take the compote off the heat and pour it into a small bowl or jar. Allow to chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
- Once the base, raspberry compote, and beer reduction are all cool to the touch, add the compote and reduction to the base. With an immersion blender (or in a food processor), blend until smooth. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set for at least 4-5 hours.**
- After allowing the base to set, whisk or immersion-blend it thoroughly again.
- Set up your churner.
- Pour the base into the churner and turn the cycle on. Allow the ice cream to churn and freeze until it has the consistency of thick soft-serve throughout, 15-30 minutes depending on your churner.
- Pour the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and cover. Allow the ice cream to harden to a consistent texture throughout, roughly 6-8 hours depending on your freezer.
** If you are pressed for time, you can get away without waiting this long, though the texture might not end up quite as creamy. Just make sure that everything is fully chilled, or else your churner is likely to have problems freezing the base.