Monday, 21 March 2011

Beer Jelly and Ice Cream

I used to eat a lot of jelly; a huge bowl made with half a bottle of vodka and as little water as we could get away with to make it set. That was as good as dessert got when I was at university and we’d sit around tucking into it between cans of lager and shots of Tesco Value gin (we lived like kings in those days).

I’ve wanted to make beer jelly for too-long. I’ve wanted to make it with beer ice cream to be a boozy twist on the kids classic. I wanted to serve it in a beer glass so it looked like a pint. I also wanted it to be a play on a black and tan, with IPA jelly and stout ice cream. 

It’s a simple recipe. The ice cream is a pot of good vanilla custard and about 100ml of Guinness FES (any stout will do) – you can make your own custard if you want but I cheated. The jelly starts by softening gelatine sheets in about 100ml of the beer – I used a can of Punk IPA. Then make a sugar syrup – you want it to be very sweet (four tablespoons of sugar in about 100ml of water) so that it balances the bitterness (if you used a different beer then you could use less sugar). When the syrup is ready, take it off the heat for a few seconds and then stir in the gelatine with the beer it’s been soaking in. Let the gelatine dissolve and then pour this into a jug along with the rest of the beer. Put it into glasses or serving dishes and leave to set in the fridge.

And the taste? It’s really interesting... It’s jelly and ice cream but not like we know it, far from the bright red wobble of Rowntree’s with white rectangles of ice cream cut from a box. It’s fruity, a little fizzy and there’s some bitterness at the end. Put it with the ice cream and it dulls that bitterness, giving the flavour of beer in both, which is great, really interesting and unusual – it’s not over-sweet and there’s a savoury depth to it.

I used Punk IPA to see if the tropical fruit aroma and flavour stayed with it and it does, just. The trouble is that the bitterness is harsh on its own and that’s not something you want in a dessert. Some pieces of fruit, mango or mandarin (tinned, of course), would balance this and most other beer jelly recipes I’ve seen come with fruit in them (they are also made with fruit beer).

I now want to try it with kriek (a proper sour one) or a sweetened fruit beer. I’d also be interested in a Budweiser jelly or one made with wheat beer. Or maybe black tea jelly with milk ice cream and a biscuit on the side... I’d like to try ice cream and jelly made from the same beer as well – I think it’d make a playful dinner party pre-dessert, especially if served in shot glasses so it looks like beer. Or taken to the next logical stage it’s a full-on beer trifle (beer cake used as sponge, beer jelly, beer-soaked fruit, beer custard, BEER!).

My kitchen experiments continue and I’ve got lots more things I still want to try! Anyone got any cool ideas for using beer in food that I can steal and try out?


  1. Heston Blumenthal has nothing on you lol. Its my 7 year old brothers birthday party ya think it would be wrong to use this as an excuse to make this jelly??

    DISCLAMER: don’t worry I wont give it to kids....of course its ALL for me :P

  2. That picture made me laugh, at first I thought you'd just blobbed a big lump of ice cream in a pint pot of bitter... What about a double chocolate beer combo..?

  3. Nice work! Visually that looks awesome. I share your pain on the bitterness, it's the biggest problem I have when cooking with beer. I made an IPA onion gravy last night and it was bitter as hell. The worst bit is how two-faced the whole thing is, at first it tastes great but then that bitterness comes in and kills everything.

  4. Hallo Mark! Nice blog you 've got here. I love beer -of course- and I love cooking as well.
    Cooking with beer is my best!
    I' ve made in the past beer sorbet -really great, and I' ve been serching for a beer jelly recipe. I' ll definitely try yours!
    Thank you for sharing this one! :)

  5. Kriek & frambozen work very well, make sure they're super-cold as the CO2 will stay in it then, initially set it in freezer & you'll get tingly jelly! Don't use sugar, use agave nectar, it's more subtle, then use imperial stout to make ice cream : )

  6. Punk jelly? sounds very interesting, does the carbonation stay with it? Would love to make some beer ice cream!

  7. Great job! I love the way it looks.

    As for other ideas, I just made dark stout cupcakes but they pretty much lost the beer taste except for a little bit of bitterness at the end.

    I look forward to seeing what else you come up with!

    Miranda ~ Life at Random

  8. That looks proper lovely! Nice one!

  9. Matthew - Do it! I'm sure they'll hate the bitterness so you can have it all to yourself!!

    Beersay - I keep thinking about a stout jelly and the idea intrigues me... I wonder what it'll taste like! I think it'd need to be an intense flavoured stout, maybe something like Goose Island Bourbon County (that would make amazing ice cream too, I bet!).

    Mark - Damn that bitterness! We love to drink it but we don't want to eat it!

    The Dark Chef - Cheers! I'll be trying a lambic sorbet in the summer.

    Melissa - Good tips! I love the idea of fizzy kriek jelly with imperial stout ice cream - how lavish on your tongue!

    Ghost - It did stay a little, which is interesting. As Melissa says, there are ways of making that more prominent too!

    Neil - I make proper sized dessert portions! (Although that's not a pint glass - it's a 0.5l Budvar mug).

    Miranda - Stout cakes are great but you do tend to lose the flavour. Try using the beer in the frosting as well!

    Kavey - It LOOKS lovely, just doesn't quite taste as amazing as I wanted it too... First attempts are there to be improved!