If there’s one thing I love almost as much as I love baseball and beer, it’s ice cream. Every month or two, I end up just eating a pint of ice cream for dinner. I’m an adult. I’m allowed to do that. The craft brewing boom has lent itself to both pairing beer with and collaborating with all manner of foods, ice cream being no exception. Accordingly, I can happily eat ice cream and drink beer with the purpose of informing B&O readers of my exploits.
Victory Brewing Company, out of Downington, PA, produces a full line of ice creams that incorporate wort (for the layman, basically unfermented “pre-beer”) from their line of brews. Of note, Victory’s brewing influences its ice cream making in more ways than one. Aside from the wort inclusion, the brewery provides its spent grain to local cows, and neighboring cows produce the milk in Victory’s ice cream. Though I’ve had several of their beers, I had not had the pleasure of enjoying their ice cream due a very limited distribution footprint. I made sure to tailor a recent trip route to New Jersey to include a stop for a few pints and their corresponding beer counterparts.
Triple Monkey is a banana and Golden Monkey wort ice cream with pecans. Golden Monkey is a very bold, distinctive beer. The 9.5% ABV is fully evident, and provides a good sting to it. Add to that the distinctive Belgian yeast of a tripel and it’s a strong-willed beer. It’s hard to imagine an ice cream would pair particularly well with it, and this pairing does not prove my imagination wrong. It’s clear to me that Victory’s vision was to make an ice cream that combines beer and ice cream flavors in harmony. Pairing one step further with the actual beer on which the ice cream is based (at least in this case) simply does not work. Sequencing a sip of beer first, and a bite of ice cream second, the ice cream flavors are too delicate to even register on my palette after the strong hit of alcohol that lingers from Golden Monkey. Reversing the sequence to ice cream first and beer second results in a very rude awakening, almost inconceivably heightening the alcohol heat of the beer. I ended up putting the ice cream back in the freezer to await the completion of my glass of Golden Monkey.
That being said, Triple Monkey is delightful on its own. It’s mostly the opposite of the beer. The banana ice cream base is light and delicate. The Golden Monkey wort taste is very lightly applied, and upon reflection, that stands to reason. Wort, by definition, is simply water and the sugars extracted from barley. Not only is the barley for Golden Monkey on the lighter side, but the two major aspects of Golden Monkey that make it so bold are the alcohol and the yeast. Since both of these aspects are only present after the wort stage, the resulting flavor in the ice cream is quite nuanced.
I’m not a pecan guy, but the pecans really tie the ice cream together well. The fatty protein provides a little heft to the otherwise light flavors. There’s no mention of the pecans being candied but they definitely are. The added crunch improves the contrast to the ice cream base, and the touch brown sugar provides just a hint of darker caramel against the sweet banana.
All in all, a wonderful beginning to a journey into beer and ice cream.