TGRWT #14: Beer sorbet with soy marinated melon


tgrwt-14As malt was one of the foods to pair for this month’s TGRWT I decided to do something with beer. I first considered making a beer gel since the Alinea book has a nice recipe (with potassium citrate and kappa carrageenan – I included the recipe in the hydrocolloid recipe collection), but since I didn’t have carrageenan at hand I decided to try a sorbet. A quick search gave me 4 recipes (links in the table below) and in order to compare these I decided to calculate sugar/beer and sugar/liquid ratios as these are quite crucial in order to obtain the desired consistency of a sorbet. The results are shown in the table below.

reference beer
sugar/liquid sugar/beer
Recipe 1 330 257 340 0.58 1.03
Recipe 2 1360 50 383 0.27 0.28
Recipe 3 310 567* 311* 0.35 1.00
Recipe 4 710 370 335 0.31 0.47

* Recipe 3 uses milk instead of water. There are also 2 oz liquid glucose which I’ve not included since there is no information about the concentration.

I was surprised to find such a great difference between the recipes with regards to sugar and alcohol content. The large ranges for sugar/liquid and sugar/beer ratios (0.27-0.58 and 0.28-1.03 respectively) suggest to me that the recipes are a little arbitrary. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find tables plotting out the the combined effect of sucrose and alcohol on sorbets – perhaps you know about such a resource? (I tried googling for ethanol, sucrose and freezing point depression without success) In the end I figured recipe 4 seemed most reasonable and scaled it down a little. I had planned on using lemon juice, but there were no lemons left in the fridge so I went with balsamic vinegar instead.

Beer sorbet
150 mL water
140 g sugar
0,85 g gelatin (1/2 sheet, 0,14%)
10 mL balsamic vinegar
300 mL beer (pilsner type, 4.5% alcohol)

Bring water and sugar to boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add bloomed gelatin. Add beer and vinegar. Cool and freeze. If freezing without an ice cream maker, mix well once frozen and freeze again. I served it with diced galia melon, marinated in soy sauce and sugar.

Scientific considerations: I intentionally did not boil the beer to avoid oxidation and an sulfurous flavor, and it’s probably also advisable to let the sugar/gelatin mixture cool down before adding the beer. I’m not particularily fond of stale beer, and not heating the beer is a way to avoid this. To reduce syneresis and inhibit formation of large crystals I added a little gelatin to the recipe (locust bean gum or agar/xanthan will also do the trick). The consistency was perhaps a bit too soft, but the following numbers should be a useful guide when adjusting the recipe.

Final sugar concentration: 23%
Final alcohol concentration: 2.25% (vol%)
Final gelatin concentration: 0.14%

Creamy texture after second freezing!

Verdict: The beer sorbet was a pleasant surprise! Very creamy texture, perhaps a little on the soft side, but the gelatin helped maintain structure. The flavor was sweet, savory and acidic at the same time. The melon with soy sauce however was not so great. The leftover beer sorbet will be served with lemon and lime marinated melon in stead of the soy sauce 🙂


  1. Jeff: Thanks for the reminder! Harold McGee also has some nice info on sorbets in the “Curious Cook”.

    Roberto: I’ll put it on my list of things to try 🙂

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