Beer for Dessert? Yes, It's Called Wild Ale Sorbet | Wine Enthusiast
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Beer for Dessert? Yes, It’s Called Wild Ale Sorbet

While it’s relatively common to make ice cream out of Guinness and other malty stouts, wild ale rarely makes it to the dessert table. It’s a curious oversight because several wild ales, or beers fermented with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria, have fruit flavors like raspberry or peach that seem ideal for after dinner.

Beer for Dessert: Wild Ale Sorbet
Photo Credit: Jon Page

Fortunately, wild ale lovers now have an icy dessert option. The Craft Brewery Cookbook, a collection of beer-inspired and -paired recipes by John Holl, Wine Enthusiast’s beer editor, includes a recipe for a wild ale sorbet inspired by a dish served at Ruck, a beer bar in Troy, New York

Ruck’s version was made with a coolship beer, Holl writes, or a type of wild ale made in an open-air vessel designed to inoculate and ferment the beer with ambient yeast and bacteria. This recipe is flexible, however. Make yours with any wild ale-style beer whose flavors you love, be it the stone fruit of Allagash Coolship Pêche, tart cherry of Firestone Walker Frieky Bones or spiced pear-lime notes of Springdale Pear Reviewed

Best of all, unlike fussy ice cream recipes that require tempering cream or investing in a sous-vide machine, this wild ale sorbet requires nothing more than sugar, water, beer and an ice cream maker. You will need time to chill your beer, simple syrup and sorbet mixture at various points in the process, though, so plan accordingly. 

Recipe courtesy of The Craft Brewery Cookbook by John Holl, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Photo by Jon Page.

How to Make Wild Ale Sorbet


2 cups coolship or wild ale
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Fresh fruit, for serving (optional)


Put the beer in a medium bowl and stir several times to release some carbonation. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and create a simple syrup. Remove from the heat and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.

Put a container large enough to hold 3 cups of sorbet into the freezer.

Add the cold simple syrup to the cold beer then pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions for about 30 minutes, or until thick. Transfer to the prepared container and freeze for at least 3 hours. Serve with fresh fruit (if using) and a glass of coolship or wild ale. Makes 3 cups.