While the beer milkshake has been on the culinary fringes for quite a while (John Steinbeck actually mentioned the drink in his 1945 novel Cannery Row.), the tasty concoction has recently started to hit the mainstream. The Red Robin hamburger chain even featured an Oktoberfest beer milkshake in 2012. But nowhere has the marriage of a frosty beer with refreshing ice cream seemed more perfect than in the tropical heat of Key West and the Florida Keys at large. Throw caution to wind, insert straw and enjoy.
Beer milkshakes at M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom — Photo courtesy of Claudia Miller
M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom in Islamorada has had what they call “adult milkshakes” made with their own homemade ice cream on the menu since they opened. Chef George Patti cites the public’s growing awareness of the nuanced flavors in craft beer and the handmade cocktail craze as a few reasons the trend has reached a critical mass in the past year.
He currently has five beer milkshakes on his menu, like the Wells Banana Bread Ale from England mixed with vanilla bean ice cream or the Guinness combined with Nutella ice cream. Both thick blends are served in a pilsner glass with a dollop of whipped cream. Another option is a twist on the traditional root beer float using Bootlegger’s Bourbon Barrel Hard Root Beer paired with vanilla ice cream and served in a frosted mug.
In Key West, Flaming Buoy has the Strawberry Beer Float, made with Van Diest Früli Strawberry Ale from Belgium and Tahitian vanilla ice cream and then topped with chocolate and caramel sauce, on their regular menu. They use the freshly made ice cream from local favorite Flamingo Crossing Ice Cream shop on Duval Street. Chef Fred Isch often runs additional specials using Florida Avenue Blueberry Beer and Sam Adams' chocolate stout.
2 Cents in Key West uses Flamingo Crossing’s ice cream for their beer shakes as well. 2 Cents is known for their free bacon at happy hour, so it’s no surprise that Chef Chris Otten has managed to include bacon bits in the Buttery Creamsicle - an Orange Blossom Pilsner mixed with butter pecan ice cream.
He has whipped up some other fun combinations like Granny's Creamy Cider: vanilla ice cream and Angry Orchard cider, garnished with slices of Granny Smith apple. For a rich dessert with a kick, their Cerveza con Leche combines Cuban coffee ice cream with Nitro Milk Stout.