The Right Beer Makes A Big Difference.
For this cocktail, I was trying to make a beer cocktail that tasted like a root beer float. I found a sweeter/low bitter porter to taste better. I find stouts to be a bit too bitter and strong to blend well with the cream. Guinness works well but keeps an eye out for a sweeter porter, but the simple syrup can easily be adjusted to offset a more bitter beer. My favorite beer to use when making this is Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery. It’s also one of my favorite porters anyway, so I’m sure that plays a role, in my opinion, but it blends very well with the dairy, sugar, and vanilla extract. So I say find your favorite porter and give it a go. If it misses the mark, then try a different one.
The Problem With Mixing Dairy And Alcohol And How Stabilized Cream Can Help.
Dairy and alcohol do not mix well. Especially dairy and a slightly acidic drink like beer. The problem is in an acidic or alkaline environment, protein will denature (aka cook), and the protein molecules will unfold. These loose unfolded protein molecules can bond together, forming large, firm protein clumps. We call cheese, and a beer with tiny bits of cheese floating about is repulsive. There are two ways to prevent this from happening.
- The high-fat content in heavy cream will bond with the alcohol and help prevent it from denaturing the proteins. This is why heavy cream is added to a white Russian and not milk or half and half. The fat will only protect against alcohol, though. Beer is also slightly acidic, and to protect against that, you need something else.
- Starch is the secret ingredient that will prevent the protein from bonding together and forming clumps even in an acidic environment.
Using starch to stabilize dairy is nothing new; pastry bakers have been using cream mixed with corn starch for a long time. Boston cream pies, meringues, and whip creams that last for hours. It’s been a long time since I have taken an organic chemistry class but what I believe happens is the starch, which is a long glucose chain, will bind to the unfolded and denatured protein chain. The protein/amino acids will bond to the glucose that makes up the starch instead of to another protein/amino acid chain. This is why a Boston cream filling remains silky smooth after being cooked. There is a bit more to it, and I could talk about the different effects starch will have based on when it is added, but for this specific drink, this will do.
How To Make Stabilized Cream.
To make stabilized heavy cream add 1 tbsp (7 g) or cornstarch to 1 cup (240mLs) of heavy cream. Mix the two ingredients with a wire whisk and let it sit for a few minutes before using.