Brian Jacobson
Local Sourcer

The Milwaukee Beer Float

Combine Purple Door's Whiskey Ice Cream, made with Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic Whiskey and Brenner Brewing's Imperial Stout. Result: delicious.

By - Dec 2nd, 2014 05:19 pm
Milwaukee Beer Float. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Milwaukee Beer Float. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Recently, art patron and brewmaster Mike Brenner held a grand opening event at his eponymous Brenner Brewing Company at 706 S. 5th St. That evening, he previewed a half-barrel of “Witchcraft Imperial Stout” from his burgeoning line (the other 20 barrels are still aging in oak for another 6-12 months).

To mark the occasion, I set upon a fine experiment: first I hit up Purple Door Ice Cream less than a mile northeast in their new digs at 205 S. 2nd St.  The particular pint I needed was their Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic Whiskey Ice Cream, made from product found at that company’s headquarters—just blocks away from both locations.

Deep-brown foam. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Deep-brown foam. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

The concoction planned to create, of course, was a beer float. This is not an original idea, as anyone that has been to college or to a fine cocktail bar can attest.  Stout is often the best choice, but I took pride in being the first to pair it in a different direction.

Brenner’s Facebook description calls the brew I would be using “a unoak-aged version of our 13% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, Witchcraft. It’s made with 43lbs of Anodyne Coffee, 144lbs of Kallas Honey, 70lbs of Molasses, and 9 malt varieties.”

Purple Door describes their product as “super-premium, 14% butterfat ice cream [using] milk and cream from Wisconsin dairies (minus when there is a milk shortage)…Flavor ingredients include top-of-the-line cocoas, liqueurs, coffee beans, teas, spices, and fresh and seasonal fruits…Every batch is hand-crafted in small batches and taste-tested for balance, accuracy and depth.” A whiff of it revealed a very aromatic ice cream, but not obnoxiously so.

As for the whiskey used in the ice cream, Great Lakes Distillery describes it as “a blend of Straight Bourbon we have sourced from one of America’s finest distilleries and a Malt whiskey and a Rye Whiskey we produce here at Great Lakes Distillery. We bottle it at 86 proof and we don’t filter it…there is no Neutral Grain Spirit in Kinnickinnic. It’s 100% Whiskey, and possibly the only American Blended Whiskey made this way on the market.”

Mike Brenner trying out the beer float. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Mike Brenner trying out the beer float. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Mike and I stood at the end of the bar and tried out the beer floats. After a few sips, I found that swirling it around brought out a deep-brown foam. It was this foam that was quite delicious, followed by a small plunge of dark beer chasing it down.  It was very sugary but not in a sickly way. We tried a little ice cream in “Maiden Opus” beer (an American Sour oak-aged in Cabernet Barrels for five months) but I found that brew strong-armed the flavor of the ice cream.

This also has not been the first experiment in the front room of the brewery—a few weeks earlier they invented the “Milwaukee Margarita”, which involves Merkt’s soft cheese rimmed on a glass of Brenner’s Glücklich Pils.  This sounds much more refined than the Urban Dictionary recipe, which is Pabst in a tall can with a slice of lime.

The next night the party continued, as Lucy Saunders (Milwaukee’s “Beer Cook”) handed out samples of Bacon Bomb (Rauchbier) Gravy with cheese curd centers.

But back to the experiment at hand: the root beer float was pretty delicious and encourages me to try more such locally sourced experiments in the weeks to come.

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