When I wrote the Brews to Beans article for BrewStuds, I was particularly intrigued with the local collaboration between Braxton Brewing of Covington, Kentucky and Graeter’s Ice Cream of Cincinnati, Ohio. Braxton and Graeter’s worked together and recently released Braxton’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout. I reached out to Jonathan Gandolf, chief of marketing for Braxton Brewing, and he gave me the scoop (pun intended) on the collaboration. Both Braxton’s and Graeter’s are family owned companies and while they knew of each other and admired their work from afar, the thought to connect was never raised….until a mutual connection brought them together. From there, the concept was born. According to Gandolf, “The test batching process took place over approximately 6 months and we had three different test batches. We sat down with the Graeter’s family on every batch until we knew what we wanted. It’s been a blast to work with them and we hope it’s the beginning of even more collaboration.”
From the Braxton website:
The one-of-a-kind Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout is a creatively crafted beverage inspired by one of Graeter’s oldest traditional flavors. Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is an ice cream featuring black raspberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and gourmet bittersweet chocolate chips. With Graeter’s exclusive black raspberry puree, Braxton Brewing Co. crafted this one-of-a-kind milk stout, a dark brew with notes of roasted barley and a creamy texture.
I can tell you that from my own taste tests, the Graeter’s Ice Cream is simply amazing. At our local ice cream shoppe in Raleigh, I tend to order a Vanilla “concrete” with Raspberry and Chocolate Chips mixed in, so I had a feeling that I would enjoy the Graeter’s….and I was right! Then tasting the Braxton Stout, I detected some sweetness from Graeter’s raspberry puree and some chocolate flavor notes to complement the sweetness. I can understand why Graeter’s and Braxton Brewing are excited about the final product!
Beer and ice cream collaborations are not yet mainstream, but are becoming more common. Ben and Jerry’s partnered with New Belgium on a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale….which smelled exactly like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! The taste even had a bit of a sweet, chocolate flavor to it. I don’t know how well it sold or whether the Ben & Jerry/New Belgium partnership will continue, but I’ll bet they were pleased with the outcome.
Another twist on a Stout/Ice Cream collaboration was conceived by Big Boss Brewing of Raleigh, NC. They brewed a Root Beer Stout that, I kid you not, smelled just like the A&W Root Beer that I used to love and enjoy as a kid. Low ABV and a bit sweeter than your average stout, Big Boss promoted it locally by partnering with a local ice cream vendor and sold Root Beer Stout floats at their taproom! I made a Root Beer Stout float on my own and it was really good!
Back to Braxton….they produced a video to tell the story about the collaboration. Take a couple of minutes to watch it….but come on back!
While I’m not sure if the Stout/Ice Cream partnership is a fad, a trend, or has the staying power that a Stout/Coffee partnership has had (Bean to Brew anyone?), but I do think it’s a neat way to showcase different flavors, to partner with local companies and frankly, to try new things, push the envelope and be innovative. From my perspective, those are all good things and I hope it’s here to stay….