Lambic beers, or “sour beers,” are spontaneously fermented Belgian ales often flavored with fruits. I’ve been making fruit and lambic sorbets and ice creams for years. (Chef Jonathon Sawyer at the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland gave me my first sip of American craft sour beer, which I fell in love with instantly.) Sorbets require a lot of sugar to remain supple when frozen, so they easily can get too sweet. However, when you add good-quality ale you balance that sweetness. Also, the natural sugar content of the alcohol means you won’t have to add as much sugar as you would in a regular sorbet recipe. I use this recipe to make cherry lambic sorbet, black plum & black currant lambic sorbet, and peach lambic sorbet, but you can make any combination you like.–Jeni Britton Bauer
LC (Hiccup) Note
Go ahead. Try and stop at one spoonful of this cool, creamy, ever so slightly intoxicating concoction. We dare you. [Hiccup.]
Fruity Beer Sorbet
- Ice cream maker
- 1 pound fresh stone fruits (cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, or, if desired, a combination)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup lambic chilled
- If using peaches, plums, or apricots, peel the fruits. Remove and discard the stones (that is to say, the pits). Purée the fruit in a food processor until smooth. You should have somewhere between 1 and 2 cups of puree.
- Combine the puréed fruit, sugar, and corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Immediately remove from the heat. Refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 hours.
- Strain the purée, if desired, through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the beer and, if you can stand to wait, refrigerate the mixture until chilled.
- Pour the mixture into the chilled canister of an ice cream maker (you may need to work in batches to prevent sorbet overflow) and spin just until it is the consistency of very softly whipped cream. Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. You can take it from here.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This was a really pleasant surprise for me. I had to really look hard to find the right beer, but the search was worth it. The beer taste wasn’t overpowering, but blended nicely with the puréed fruit. I don’t care for overly sweet sorbets, and this fit my palate nicely as it was slightly sweet and a little tart as well. The lambic beer I found was made with strawberries. For the fruit I used 1 fresh apricot and 3/4 lbs. of fresh cherries. I wound up with just under 2 cups of purée. After adding the beer I didn’t need to chill it any further as I’d kept the beer in the fridge while the purée mix was chilling. I mixed the 2 together and put it directly into the ice cream maker. It’s a good thing it didn’t make more, as it filled the freezer chamber on the maker almost to capacity. My tasters found it refreshing and fruity and hardly noticed the beer taste at all. I can’t wait to make this again with a gingered beer that my son found and fresh peaches when they finally come into season here.
The most difficult part of this recipe was finding lambic beer. All I can say is it’s worth the search. I used peaches for the stone fruit in this sorbet. After running them through the food processor, I had about 1 3/4 cups of purée. Once my sugar and fruit mixture cooled in the refrigerator, I added the cold lambic. Since the sorbet base was still cold, I placed it in the ice cream maker right away. It took about 25 minutes to get to the “whipped cream” stage. The texture was smooth, light, and creamy. The flavor was fruity and refreshing. A fabulous sorbet.
I am a beer lover. Though the name “fruity beer” may seem off-putting to some, I assure you, you’d be missing some of the most refreshing brews around if you didn’t try them. So it only seems natural that a fruity beer would make a refreshing, summery-tasting sorbet. Since I don’t care for desserts that are too sweet, I used nectarines for their tart quality. The pound of nectarines yielded about a cup of purée and added a tangy kick to the finished product.
First, I’d say that I probably cheated here. My local store only had two types of lambic: framboise and cherry. I chose cherry. (This brand adds cherries to the lambic at 6 months and allows it to ferment for 8 to 12 months with the cherries in the beer.) Since cherries are in season, I bought cherries. Thus, there was a strong cherry flavor, which we all liked. It did have beer notes, but since the cherry lambic tasted good on its own, this wasn’t a problem. The hardest part of the recipe is pitting the cherries. If I made this again, I would likely buy pitted cherries. I’m curious about how peaches or a regular (non-fruit flavored) beer would work.
Originally published July 05, 2012