With the influence of cooking networks in our culture, the casual diner has become much more educated with expectations that force chefs to be more creative and develop unique flavor profiles that no one else has tried. These expectations have also carried over to both the craft beer industry and the gourmet ice cream industry as well.  At first glance, you might not think of pairing beer and ice cream together, but once people taste these combinations they can’t help but to notice how well the different flavors complement one another. Many chefs and brewers have partnered together to develop these combinations that seem to satisfy both the sweet and savory palates. The complex flavors they are incorporating such as coffee, fruits, spices and even chocolate all seem to pair well not only with the malt, hops and yeast but also with the cream in the ice cream.

I recently spoke with Laura Oldham, Co-Founder of the Columbus Craft Beer Alliance, who hosts several large events annually to showcase the growing craft beer industry, to give us her take on the surge of craft beer brewers and the unlikely pairing of beer and ice cream.

“Like with food, people are more conscious of what they are drinking and expect the quality of the ingredients going into craft beers to be just as important as what goes into their food. Many Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery, which gives the consumer the ability to see how the beer is brewed and with what ingredients," she stated. “Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like barley and hops, but interesting and non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinct flavors, which provides limitless possibilities for the unique styles that can be created. Different styles of beer can be paired with a wide range of foods, including ice ream. Many restaurants are creating craft beer floats on their dessert menus for a twist on the traditional root beer float.”

Many brewmasters are creating ice cream flavored beer like New Belgium’s Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Beer. Frozen Pints has some unique flavors they have captured in the ice cream arena; Honey IPA, Brown Ale Chip, Milk Chocolate Stout. When I asked Laura what she thought may follow next in the food/beer pairing she stated that The Columbus Craft Beer Alliance is currently pairing craft beer and doughnut tastings for brewery tours throughout the city. I will be sure to check that out!

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