Prohibition, Beer… and Ice Cream?

Yuengling Ice CreamEarlier this week, we took a look at the history of Prohibition, the repeal of the 18th Amendment, and the effects of alcohol deregulation. (See Understanding Alcohol Regulation and Alcohol Deregulation Problems.) It turns out that Prohibition, beer and ice cream all have a common connection.

That connection starts in the coal-mining town of Pottsville, PA, when David Yuengling arrived from Germany and started a brewery in 1829, making it America’s oldest brewery (still independently family-owned and operated). When the 18th Amendment passed in 1919, Yuengling Brewery opened a dairy directly opposite the brewery to survive the restrictions of Prohibition. And what better product could a dairy produce than ice cream?

Yuengling Ice Cream

Two years after the end of Prohibition, Yuengling spun the dairy branch off of the brewery, and continued producing ice cream until 1985. According to CNNMoney.com’s “Yuengling ice cream returns,” David Yuengling (second cousin to Yuengling Brewery head, Dick Yuengling) decided to resurrect the ice cream business after thirty years in the IT industry. He’s quoted in the article as saying, “I think one of the biggest problems people have with new products is name-brand recognition, and we already have that.”

Indeed. Ice cream production was expected to begin in March; however, regional grocery chains pushed for earlier production when word got out that Yuengling Ice Cream was coming back. The first quarts hit store shelves in early February. One of the leading flavors is, as you might expect with a history tied to a brewery, Black and Tan. It’s named for one of Yuengling’s popular beers; however, don’t expect the same flavor. Think chocolate and caramel instead.

Beer-flavored Ice Cream

Yuengling’s Black and Tan Ice Cream may taste nothing like its brewed cousin, but that doesn’t mean beer-flavored ice cream is but a dream. Sweet Action Ice Cream has made a number of beer ice cream concoctions including Coffee Yeti Stout, Chocolate Yeti Butterscotch, Chocolate Yeti Boysenberry Swirl, and Chocolate Yeti Butterfinger, all using Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing as an ingredient.

One of Sweet Action Ice Cream owners, Chia Basinger, said, “Our first beer ice cream was Vanilla Porter, made with the Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery. We had that flavor available on the very first day that we opened in 2009.” (Quoted in Craftbeer.com’s “I Scream, You Scream: It’s Craft Beer Ice Cream!”)

Other Alcohol-Infused Ice Cream

Beer isn’t the only alcohol that can be turned into ice cream. LA-based BuzzBar has launched in Massachusetts. According to BostInno’s “Alcohol-infused Ice Cream Has Arrived in Massachusetts to Change Our Lives for the Better,” the ice cream is only available in Foxboro and is available in six flavors. They include Citrus Berry Drop (raspberry lemon sorbet with lemon vodka), Drunken Cookie (cookies and cream ice cream with bourbon), Buzz Café (coffee ice cream and Irish Cream), Blitzed Berry (strawberry ice cream and rum), Bourbon St. Chocolate (chocolate ice cream and whiskey), and Vanilla Daze (vanilla ice cream and Cognac).

Now, if you want to toast the end of Prohibition, you can raise a spoon of ice cream in addition to or rather than a glass.