No, really, it was. And cold, bitterly so. The wind blowing in from the south was slamming right into the beachfront bach we’d hired in Raumati. But, inside, we were warm and comfy, all the heaters up full, enjoying that sense of comfort that only comes when you’re away from home, coddled together against the elements in a small, spartan building.
Of course, we’d expected that weather, taking a holiday on a Raumati beach at the tail end of winter. But we didn’t mind, not at all. It was nice to get away from home for just a bit – even if it wasn’t very far away – nice and close to my mother in her nursing home, so we could spend some quality time with her.
And, after dinner, when we’d taken mum home and put her to bed, it was time for us to relax, luxuriate in the warmth while the wind howled outside and the waves crashed against the shore, safe in our dimly lit retreat.
A perfect night for a float with stout.
I’m not sure when I first heard of the idea of serving a stout with ice cream. Sure, Phil Cook’s enthused about them for quite a while, but I’m sure I was aware of them – had drunken them – before then. Or maybe that’s just because, as a concept, the drink just works. Just makes sense. A dry, bitter-sweet stout solid and dark, mingling with sweet, rich ice cream. It just sounds delicious.
So, given we were up the Kapiti Coast, it was appropriate to go local with the ingredients for this wonderfully luxuriant drink. Paraparaumu’s own Tuatara Brewing have recently released a trio of limited edition bottle-conditioned stouts, all with the ‘Black’ name. There’s a dark chocolate version, and one made with coffee but neither of them impressed me as much as the ‘Toasted Malt’ version.
By itself, the Black Toasted Malt is a beautiful mix of complex rich maltiness, bursting with chocolate and toasted bread flavours, which underlies a huge fruity hop flavour, lashings of bitter orange aroma and long, cleansing bitterness.
But, then, add a dollop or two of vanilla ice cream from Kapiti Fine Foods. The ice cream froths and foams, turning the beer’s head into a airy dreamy cushion. And, as you raise the glass to your lips, the frozen ice cream gentle nuzzles against your lips as the dark beer swirls around it into your mouth, carrying with it a creamy sweetness.
This Tuatara Black is strong enough, especially with its bitter toasted flavours, to survive the rich sweetness of a fine creamy ice cream. The natural vanilla flavouring of the dairy dessert is a perfect match for the chocolate and orange notes of the stout. And each mouthful is different, as differing amounts of beer and ice cream mix together with each sip, until by the end of the glass it’s all a creamy, gorgeous messy mixture of the two, rich and complex flavours melding together into a grown up’s milkshake of delight.
Making this stout ice cream float was a moments inspiration. I’d bought the beer for myself, and the ice cream to have with a delicious chocolate brownie we were planning to have as a late night treat. But there, in the little bach, warm against the winter’s storm, splashing the ice cream into the beer made perfect sense. And sensually, it was a perfect flavour combination.
However, be warned: stout ice cream floats have a particular side effect. Especially if you have facial hair…