A float, or ice cream soda, consists of ice cream in either a soft drink or in a mixture of flavored syrup and carbonated water. According to Wikipedia, "The ice cream soda was invented by Robert McCay Green in Philadelphia, PA, in 1874 during the sesquicentennial celebration. The traditional story is that, on a particularly hot day, Mr. Green ran out of cold ice for the flavored sodas he was selling and used vanilla ice cream from a neighboring vendor, thus inventing a new drink.
Makes sense, right? It's ironic how accidents can turn into wonderful discoveries. Sometimes when I have to drink a certain beverage for work I'm not looking forward to it no matter how good it might be. It could be because it's early in the day and that means I'll be drinking small samples versus a larger amount, plus there's often waste. I'm not a fan of waste. For this blog post we came up with the idea with a few days for me to put it together, which sounds like plenty of time except we're talking about fluffy, fattening and filling floats. On top of that I had exercise commitments with my son's baseball practice and a jog. Not the friendliest of companions with ice cream weighing on the tummy.
That changed INSTANTLY after a large spoonful taste of Boulevard's new The Calling IPA and a lemon sorbet mixed together. My goal was to stray from the typical vanilla ice cream, and attempt to compliment the notes of an IPA better. Currently, we don't rank or score drinks as a company, but I swear to you that this combo you need to try. This will be brought to several parties this summer that I'm responsible for the drinks. As simple as two ingredients to blow your mind, or at least your tastebuds. Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin was the other IPA I tried and it was also delicious. Something about a hoppy beer and that zesty lemon creaminess together for the win. I used a larger tulip for glassware, and I believe in some odd way that helped with these floats being close to perfection, plus I felt like it kept me from downing a 14 oz float. It's up to you on the ice cream to beer ratio, but I leaned more on the beer heavy side. After the ice cream (sorbet in this case) melted down you are left with this sweet, slightly creamy and cold beer concoction. Please, for the sake of The LAB give your favorite IPA a float try with a citrus-based ice cream, sorbet, or custard.
I had enough room, not really, for two more floats later in the day. This was the case with Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan, which is a nut brown ale, and Virgil's Root Beer for a tradional root beer float - the ones my grandmother used to make for me. Ah, sweet childhood memories.
For both of these I used vanilla ice cream. The nut brown is considered a sweeter beer and I felt like it made that sweetness more approachable and relavant as a treat. This outcome turned out tasty also. A little side note, the Southern Pecan won a Bronze Medal in the 2006 World Beer Cup in the Specialty Beer category.
I grew up on root beer floats and I'm personally a fan of Virgil's drinks. The clove and anise took off in float form, and I like a kick, but it was a tad much for me. Of course, that could be due to it being my 4th float of the day. *passes out* It would be fun to do a whole lineup of craft sodas and ice cream pairings. I'll save that for a July or August party when my son has some friends over.
The plan was to do a porter or a stout in addition to the other drinks, but I honestly didn't have it in me. I was defeated by ice cream!
Overall, the frozen goodness heightened at least one flavor nuance in all the beer and soda floats. It was as if it acted as a taste steroid.
If you aren't worried about calories or your belly sticking out for the next two days, I highly recommend putting your own combos together. Try different ice creams and sorbets that keep the flavor to one or two base profiles, staying away from floating pieces like cookie bits and nuts. Give some of your local brands a try with this win-win experiment.
It's not often I openly tell people "you have to try this", but get a 4-pack of The Calling and a container of Haagen-Dazs Zesty Lemon Sorbet. Float on!
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