In the Summer Time…

“Summer would not be summer without ice cream. 

Ice cream is the favorite currency of love”

Puck, June 1881

There are millions of ways of enjoying a summer evening but sitting with a small group of ladies drinking beer and eating cool ice cream, is on my top ten list. Not that I have ever done it before, or even thought of combining the two pleasures, but now I’ve done it I can recommend that everyone should try it at least once in their life. On Tuesday evening, Emma, (beer swilling, superfit, running Goddess of All Hail Ale in Westbourne), put on a Ladies Ice Cream and Beer Pairing event with Nataljia the Group Assistant Head Brewer at Brewhouse and Kitchen, and also the organiser of “BH2 Crafty Beer Beer Ladies” and “Sobo Crafty Beer Ladies”.

Gathered together was a compact and very bijou group of six, as well as Emma and Nataljia there was Eva, Tamsin, another Emma and me. Each person had brought a tub of homemade ice cream or sorbet, and Nataljia brought a mini-keg of B & K Southsea’s “Inspiring Bells” Oatmeal Stout, and Peter brought us third pints of Frambuzi, raspberry sour from Tiny Rebel and a single-hopped Chinook IPA. Nataljia was careful to choose a straightforward stout that didn’t come with any added chocolate, coffee or any of the other additions that you might expect, and the IPA was straightforward with no fruitiness.

The first pairing that Nataljia wanted us to try was a Raspberry and Basil sorbet to try with the raspberry sour, which as you would expect went very well together, but it also went well with the stout and the IPA. The sharpness of the raspberries in the sorbet, was the perfect foil for the sourness without taking away any of its character, however, when we took a vote on which pair we preferred, it was the oatmeal stout that came out as the best one to pair with the sorbet.

The next to come out of Nataljia’s ice cream arsenal was a tasty Avocado and Chocolate Chip. The expectation was that it would go well with the stout but matched the Frambuzi very well too. Next came the Peri Peri – yes you heard me correctly, Peri Peri ice cream is an ice cream made with chillies and garlic! It was carefully made by Emma no 1, and if you are surprised by this addition of garlic, she will remind you that ice cream, historically, was always savoury. So, there you go, I learned something new. I loved this one, it was mild and creamy then just as you thought it was safe to go back in the sea – bam! The chillies would jump out at you! Chillies and beer are fine together of course, this one was chosen to go with the IPA. Chilli and garlic ice cream might not be everyone’s idea of a delicious dessert, but we liked it, especially when experienced through the smoky hoppiness of the IPA.

Just when we thought the ice creams couldn’t get any wackier, out came the Coconut and Marmite. This combination worked very well together and gave us a similar taste experience to salted caramel, so give yourself an extra ten points if you think that it went particularly well with the oatmeal stout!

Peanut Butter ice cream anyone? It was delicious and the slight saltiness brought out the chocolatey notes of the stout and also the fruitiness of the Frambuzi. I love a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich, so this particular combination was heavenly to me.

All the ice creams were homemade, they were healthy, vegan and gluten free. They were experimental and adventurous by design and made with the aim of challenging our taste buds and our idea of what should go together.

I am aware that there are some people that disagree with people getting together grouped by their age or sex, for example. Of course, there is nothing better than a mixed social group, where men and women of all ages and backgrounds get together and compare and taste and discuss the beer, and sometimes they talk about other things too and that is what it is all about. But there was something exquisitely lovely about six ladies, sensitively tasting, comparing, listening to each other and above all enjoying the beer and ice cream that they had made to share with each other.

Unbeknown to Nataljia at the time, she had saved the best till last. With the Stout, Sour and IPA trio waiting for their pairing as if it was the last dance at a disco, she brought out the ravishing beauty that was Emma no.2’s Cherry, Coconut and Dark Chocolate vegan ice cream. It was made with coconut ice cream mixed with dark, soft cherries and 100% coco solids and we all fell in love with it, and so did all three of the beers. We had been voting all the way through for our favourite pairings, and they varied between us. However, at the end, there was one pairing that won all six of our votes, have you guessed it yet? It was the Cherry, Coconut and Dark Chocolate ice cream with Inspiring Bells Oatmeal Stout, if they had legs, I think they could have danced all night!

The next beer pairing will take place on 9th July, at All Hail Ale. The theme will be “Pie and a Pint”, and everyone is invited, even men! So, if this is your idea of a fun, week night out, get in touch with All Hail Ale and book your place!

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first invent the universe”

Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)