Whenever fall comes around, our beer writers get me all hyped on stouts and porters that they analogize to milkshakes. Which leads me to buy and not really drink a whole lot of stouts and porters. Because as much as I get the “milkshake in a can” tasting note, I find that it’s calibrated to beer drinkers. For me, someone who likes milkshakes way more than beer, nothing has ever been “milkshake-y” enough.
Until today. Coolhaus, the hipster-beloved ice cream brand, has collaborated with LA’s Common Space Brewery to make something they dub “dessert beer.” The official name is the overly wordy “Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert Beer” but the image on the can is enough to give you an idea of what we’re talking about. This is a 7% ABV flavor bomb — un-session-able both because of the alcohol content and the sweet notes.
But does that mean it’s bad? Absolutely not. In fact, I liked it a lot.
I drank my first one of these nice and frosty. I’m drinking one right now as a refresher course and it’s room temp. In both cases, you get a lot of malts on the nose. Remember “malts” the milkshake term? You’ll hear it a lot in old-timey movies. In ice cream parlors of the ’50s, a “chocolate malted” was far more common than a “chocolate shake.” That meant the addition of malted milk powder, a substance which I buy in bulk for my own milkshakes. That malt flavor is exactly how this beer hits on the nose.
The palate is rich vanilla. It’s beer and you get a little more hops and malt than you did on the sniff, but the ice cream and vanilla notes are strong with this one. It’s like that creamy root beer left in the root beer float after you eat the ice cream (without the sarsparilla flavors). The nice perk here is that whatever hops snuck past all the vanilla do it at the middle palate, right when the whole beer could veer off the rails into being too sweet. It’s a good catch and the only time I’ve ever really thought, “Thank god for that note of hops!”
The finish is sweet with a little fizz. The beer itself is pretty low on bubbles, but that last little kick is a nice touch. Fizz, malt, a teensy bit of hops, and vanilla sweetness — that’s what you’re left with. If you like those things and like it when they err on the sweeter side of the spectrum (as I do), this beer is for you.
Get one if you like milkshakes more than you like beer (and you live in California). If you want to call it a stunt beer, fine — but it’s a prtty delectable stunt.
WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE?
Consumer product goods — foods, beers, etc. — are all becoming calibrated to the “style drop” and “brand collab” cycles. Some work. Some fail. Some are clout chasing. All in all, for a beer newbie who likes sweetness, this one is pretty fun.