“Good lord, what did I sign up for?” I thought as I messaged a few friends, asking them to join me in my incredulously odd idea of creating the ultimate summer pairing. The task at hand was simple in theory, but a little more challenging to stomach. I was on a mission to make a beer float featuring the latest internet sensation: French’s Mustard Ice Cream.
As someone on the path to becoming a Cicerone, it’s normal to be curious about things outside of the taste comfort zone. Beer pairings are a natural part of that journey. This hairbrained idea paired a beer of my choice with the unnaturally yellow ice cream, which were both conveniently located down the street from my Los Angeles apartment.
While condiment ice cream in and of itself—even before we get to the part when I slather it in beer—might sound strange, this isn’t the first condiment-inspired ice cream to hit the market. Last year, Heinz and Gelati released a ketchup ice cream in Ireland that paid homage to Ed Sheeran.
My initial thoughts when approaching this pairing was to turn to one of mustard’s best friends: sausages. As one might expect, there are some go-tos for beer and sausage pairings. These include pilsners, stouts, lagers, and porters. My personal standard go-to are sours, red ales, weisse, or lambics. Any of these would probably make for a decent pairing with conventionally flavoured ice cream. How would the mustard element change that direction?
“Are you as nervous as I am about this?” I asked the only friend daring enough to join me in this experiment, as we walked into the grocery store to grab some beers.
This friend was a self-proclaimed non-beer person, so I found myself explaining a few things as we walked through the aisles. I talked a bit about the summertime experience I was looking to capture in the matchmaking process. I explained about how rich darker beers immediately called to me, but that I wanted to be careful not to overpower the mustard ice cream with potentially additional flavors that are common in darker beers such as coconut or toffee. Lighter beers, on the other hand, would potentially serve to focus more on the flavour of the actual ice cream in an uplifting, less dominant sort of way. We settled on a bottle of Schonramer Pilsner by Private Landbrauerei Schönram, a classic german pils that seemed like a safe bet.
Our impromptu pairing session took place at the Hi-Lo liquor market—located directly next door to an ice cream shop serving the mustard ice cream collaboration—in the company of a few curious onlookers. I bumped the ice cream into the bottom of a tulip glass and tilted it to the side as I poured in the pilsner. The mustard ice cream deepened the straw-tone beer. Looking at it is one thing, drinking it is one experience that I’m not sure I would recommend to folks who aren’t genuine mustard fans. The first sip was creamy and surprisingly delicious. It tasted less like pouring a bottle or mustard into your beer and more like a creamy odd kids dream… at least at first.
The mustard ice cream’s almost cotton candy-like flavour transported me to my childhood days spent at baseball games sneaking sips of beer between bites ice cream and hot dogs when my father wasn’t looking. It was nostalgic and rounded and actually not terrible. After I got past the initial enjoyment phase, it was smooth sailing until the final few sips, which were pure mustard that slammed me with its potency.
Some beers are good the last drop. A beer and mustard ice cream float is not one of them. Maybe it would have been better with a different beer—such as a dark berry sour or a Flemish red ale. Maybe it wouldn’t have.