Scooped: Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey Ice Cream Recipe

Scooped: Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey Ice Cream Recipe

Brown ale and honey ice cream topped with roasted chestnuts and apple chips. [Photograph: Ethan Frisch]

A few weeks ago, Guerrilla Ice Cream (my mobile ice cream project) was approached by fashion designers Shipley & Halmos about doing a New York City-themed flavor for Fashion's Night Out, a city-wide fashion event taking place today. As a native New Yorker, I jumped at the chance to capture the flavor of the greatest city in the world in ice cream form. I needed bold, confident, jay-walking flavors that talked too fast and wouldn't let anything stop them.

I decided on a deep, complex, and just-a-tad spicy Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey Ice Cream, topped with roasted chestnuts (hat tip to the chestnut vendors of old New York) and apple chips (it is the Big Apple, after all). Brooklyn Brewery's Brown Ale is nutty and sweet with hints of cinnamon and clove, and pairs very nicely with dark, malty buckwheat honey. The sharpness of the raw honey (if you can get it, do) is surprisingly reminiscent of carbonation and beer, and pulls the flavors together with a foamy buzz in the finish.

In my opinion, a key difference between good ice cream and great ice cream is the background flavors. For this ice cream, the beer and the honey are clearly the stars, but the cinnamon, black peppercorns, and other spices paint a lush backdrop that enhance and accentuate the natural spiciness in the beer and honey.

And the best part? Making a quart of this ice cream only needs a bottle of beer, so you're left with five more bottles in the pack to enjoy.

Note: If you can't find raw buckwheat honey, try regular buckwheat or caramelize a lighter honey (wildflower, clover, mesquite, etc) and add it to the hot mixture after you strain it. Heat will take away the great sharp flavor of raw honey, but a little caramelization will do wonders for a honey without those dark, spicy notes. To caramelize, put it in a small pot and cook over low heat until the color darkens to bronze. Then add it to the rest of the base as directed in step four.

Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.

  • Yield:1 quart
  • Active time: 2 hours
  • Total time:10 hours


  • 1 bottle (12 oz) Brown Ale (Brooklyn Brewery, ideally)
  • 3 cups half-and-half (or 1.5 cups whole milk, 1.5 cups heavy cream)
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod, crushed
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat honey (preferably raw, see note)


  1. 1.

    Heat half-and-half, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom and bay leaf in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 40 minutes. If mixture bubbles, reduce heat until it is just barely steaming.

  2. 2.

    Add 1/3 bottle (4 ounces) beer and 1/3 cup sugar to small heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat, swirling gently, until deeply caramelized, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour beer and sugar into half-and-half, stirring constantly.

  3. 3.

    Whisk egg yolks with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until pale yellow in color and mixture falls in wide ribbons from whisk. Slowly pour 1 cup half and half mixture into eggs, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into pot with half and half, whisking constantly. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and registers 160 degrees on instant read thermometer, about 5 minutes (mixture should coat back of wooden spoon). Pour ice cream base through fine meshed strainer into a mixing bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature.

  4. 4.

    Add the honey and remaining beer and whisk to combine. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.