behind the bardrinksentertainingFood & Drinkkristina gillrecipes

behind the bar: erin gleeson’s beer float

by Kristina Gill

Since its inception, Behind the Bar has generally been dedicated to cocktails. This week, however, I thought I would shake things up just a tiny itty bitty bit by proposing something that probably isn’t on many, if any, bar menus today. Food photographer and illustrator Erin Gleeson has shared her recipe for a Beer Float. I loved ice cream floats when I was younger, especially root beer, but had completely forgotten about floats until Erin brought up this idea. I thought it was a nice grown-up twist on a childhood favorite. — Kristina

About Erin: For many years, Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast worked as a food photographer in New York City, shooting for cookbooks, magazines, top chefs and restaurants, the New York Times dining section and the James Beard Foundation. She also has an MFA in photography and taught photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In the summer of 2011, her husband’s new job prompted a move to northern California (near San Francisco) where they found a lovely cabin in the woods. Inspired by local, seasonal ingredients, she creates “photographic recipe illustrations” that are mostly vegetarian and laid out visually. She hopes to inspire healthy meals anyone can make — dishes that are easy enough to prepare after a long day at work yet impressive enough for a party. For more of Erin’s food ideas, check out her blog.

See Erin’s recipe after the jump . . .

The Beer Float
For 4 beer floats, you’ll need:

  • 1 pint of dark beer (like a chocolate stout)
  • 1 small tub of chocolate ice cream
  • 1 container of raspberries


Put a couple scoops of ice cream in each glass. Pour beer over ice cream. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve with a spoon and a straw. Enjoy!

Why Erin Loves This Recipe

This Beer Float recipe is a fun and unique treat for a dinner party (or just for a quiet night at home!). It’s also super easy to throw together at the end of a meal when you have guests over. It covers the after-dinner drink and the dessert, all in one! Any kind of dark beer will work, but a chocolate stout is ideal. I used a local brew, Full Boar Scotch Ale, from Devil’s Canyon Brewery near San Francisco, which as the bottle says, really does have “hints of caramel and chocolate.” You could even get a few kinds of beer and have guests create their own floats at the table. I put three raspberries on a toothpick as a garnish (which you can prepare ahead of time). I love the chocolate/raspberry combo, but instead you could try coffee ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans as a garnish or vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream.

Suggested For You


  • I love Erin’s blog and her lovely illustrations — and this looks delicious! I’ve never thought to pair ice cream and beer, but I can’t imagine the combination could be anything but sublime.

  • This looks -so- good! Beautiful and motivating photography!!! You can make a ton of variations with something like this… I’m thinking French vanilla ice-cream with a dry cider and cinnamon and/or cloves. Or Guinness over coffee ice cream… (This is great for my creative juices but, at the moment, my thighs are in fear for their dimensions. ;) )

    Looking forward to checking out Erin’s blog.

  • OMG, this is such a great party idea…I’m a Guinness girl so I’m all over this idea…but it is just for outdoor entertaining? (Witness lady in the maxi on the porch). I ask because it’s getting cold here in Chicago. Maybe I just wear one of my hand knit sweaters, fire up the bbq and drink one of these floats and I just won’t care what the temperature is?

  • This looks so divinely decadently delicious. Going to make this soon with Jeni’s Dark Chocolate Askinosie ice cream. To Die For! Thank you :-D

  • Thrilled to add this to my book of recipes … McMenamins restaurants in the Northwest (Portland area) has a similar item on their menu in the summer — they also do a milkshake with their Ruby ale (a raspberry ale). Yum. Sounds like a good reason to throw a “missing summer” party when it gets cold outside.

  • her blog is my favorite food blog. so inspiring, simple, classic and everything i’ve made is delicious! such an inspiration!

  • I so enjoy grown-up takes on childhood favorites … comfort food meets a bit of chic. Thanks for sharing this recipe; I’m planning to try it with a local craft beer and artisan-made ice cream.

  • This is so. freaking. good. When made with a nice chocolate stout. Don’t be afraid to throw it in the blender with a couple bananas for amazing shakes.

  • I love ice cream and particulary fond of Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale. Thank you for this wonderful idea!

  • I had a beer milk shake one time, made with a fruit flavored beer. This looks really interesting and would be a mouth surprise if you didn’t tell your guests what it was made with beforehand.

  • I can’t help but think orange sherbet or with a belgian white would also be sublime.

  • This looks absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try it. If anyone is looking for similar glassware, I have a bunch of vintage champagne coupes in my Etsy shop called Hazel Roberts.

  • The beer float looks fun, but I’m ga-ga over the dress she’s wearing on the deck with the amazing backdrop. Where did that dress come from?

  • This reminds me of my mom! She grew up in a British colony and never drank beer without putting condensed milk in it. I personally thought it was atrocious and love dark beer on its own, but this looks quite tasty!