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A (Near) Perfect Ice Cream Float: Oatmeal Stout Floats and More! - By Z

I hesitate to call this concoction perfect only because perfection in cooking really is in the mouth of the beholder (tongue of the beholder?). I might think a dish is perfect and you might complain that it’s too spicy. Then, of course, I will make fun of you for being a baby, but that is beside the point.

Anyway, this post is about both a technique for making (nearly) perfect floats and some carbonated beverages that you might not have thought of using as a substitute for root beer.

First let’s talk about the technique. While you might think of a float as a pretty simple thing to make (add ice cream, add soda, eat/drink), this technique improves the texture quite a bit. First you have ice cream with enough icy integrity so that you have relatively solid ice cream to eat until the last bite. Second, the head is perfectly fluffy and doesn’t just dissolve away. This means you can have bites of ice cream, of fluff, of ice cream and fluff, AND of ice cream and fluff and soda (oh my!).

I really have to give credit to this technique (and the idea of using oatmeal stout) to my friend Tommy. He brewed a big batch of beer over the summer and so he always had chilled glasses in the freezer. There’s nothing like having a beer in a chilled glass (and it opened up some room in my cabinets) so I began keeping glasses in my freezer as well.

Chilled glasses with two scoops of ice cream in 'em

One night, I had a friend over who wanted an ice cream float. I may have already been a little bit tipsy at this point, so I put ice cream in the glasses in the freezer and promptly forgot about them. When I remembered (“Where is my floaaaaaaaat, Z?) the ice cream had formed a little protective ice layer due to the moisture in the freezer. So, when I poured the soda on top, it didn’t melt the ice cream at all. I’ve since refined the technique and also add a freezing period after the first pour so that the head freezes a little bit as well. Trust me, it makes for a perfect float.

Now, you may be a traditionalist and want your plain root beer float and that’s fine. But if you’re willing to experiment a little bit, you will be amply rewarded. Now I’ve tried different sodas (Cherry Coke is a favorite and some people swear by cream soda) and those are fine, but it was Tommy who first told me about a beer float. It sounded gross, I admit, but once you’ve had one properly made, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I prefer oatmeal stout, though I believe a porter would work as well. My roommate Will told me about Guinness and coffee ice cream floats and I do believe I’ll try that out some day, but in this post, I used oatmeal stout. Will was actually the impetus for this post as well, as a friend had mentioned the Guinness and coffee ice cream float and he was craving it, but I talked him into doing oatmeal stout and vanilla bean (“Hey Will, you should get oatmeal stout and vanilla bean instead.” “K.”) The brand of oatmeal stout that our local store carries is by the Lost Coast Brewery and it is pretty good, but I prefer a brand that for the life of me I can’t remember. It comes in a cream colored can (not a bottle) and if I remember correctly, has no picture, but just brown and/or black lettering. I think it’s carried at Trader Joe’s. If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

Alternately, try Collins Mix. It’s normally used to make a Tom Collins (a gin drink), but I ran out of cherry coke one night and substituted it and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t taste exactly like a Creamsicle. I actually made it for myself so that I could give my guest the Cherry Coke float, but she ended up taking the Collins float from me. It really was one of those fortuitous mistakes and I’d advise everyone to try it.

So, that’s it. A bunch of freezing and creative ingredients and you’ll have…

A (Near) Perfect Float

Creamy, frothy, bubbly, and delicious.

  • Tall Glass – I realize this isn’t exactly an ingredient, per se, but in this case, it’s key to making the float (near) perfect.
  • Ice cream – This is entirely up to you, but you can’t go wrong with a good quality vanilla bean ice cream.
  • Carbonated Beverage – Again, up to you. However, I encourage you to be adventurous. Even if you want to stick to root beer, maybe try sarsaparilla.

Chill your glass(es). I find it’s nice to always have glasses chilled in the freezer. They’re perfect for cold beverages; beer or soda taste better in a chilled glass. If you’re doing this on short notice, you’ll know the glasses are ready when they look like the pictures above. Add however many scoops of ice cream you want. I wouldn’t fill up the glass more than halfway though so that you have a good ratio of ice cream to soda.

Now, here’s the trick. Leave the chilled glasses with the ice cream in them in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Longer won’t hurt.

Then, pour your carbonated beverage of choice over the ice cream. Don’t be afraid of a lot of foam. Then, it’s back in the freezer with the glass for at least another 5 minutes. Here, I wouldn’t leave it in there longer than 15 minutes.

Then, take it out and top off the float with the rest of your beverage of choice. Enjoy your wonderful float.

Potential Combinations

  • Oatmeal Stout + Vanilla Bean Ice Cream = Rich, chocolatey deliciousness
  • Collins Mix + Vanilla Ice Cream = Creamsicle
  • Guinness + Coffee Ice Cream = Haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds great

Now, make one and tell me about your combinations in the comments.


  1. Bronwyn wrote:


    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 5:54 am | Permalink
  2. asad wrote:

    Interesting. I had a good beer and ice cream combo a while back with some friends: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout with Haagen Dazs dulce de leche ice cream. I bet that would make a good float too.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  3. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of content you’ve already uploaded! Can we get an archive list please? Pretty please?

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  4. Z wrote:

    I’m a blog n00b. I’d be happy to oblige if you told me what an archive list was.

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink
  5. Well the categories and tags on the side are great to help me navigate! Maybe have them appear even on single entry pages?
    By archive, I meant a list of entries by date or category :)
    I’m still very impressed, especially since you are now blogging from your phone!

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

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