Two Scoops of Beer {Ice Cream}, Please!

Sweet Action Ice Cream has been a Denver institution since opening in March of 2009.  Located on Broadway, owners Chia Basinger and Samantha Kopicko have always done their best to keep their menu interesting, which includes flavors like Roasted Green Chile, Pocky Red Bean, Earl Grey, and Vegan Coffee & Doughnuts.  For the past 3 years, they have created a handful of new beer ice cream flavors, dubbing it the Denver Beer {Ice Cream} Fest.  This year they released 6 beer flavors, 1 vegan beer flavor, and 1 root beer flavor (see list below).  Let’s just say they’re good… really good.

Here’s the line-up for the Denver Beer {Ice Cream} Fest (available 9/22-10/1):

  1. Silverback Honey Spice – Wynkoop Brewing Co. (Silverback Pale Ale)
  2. Belgian Yeti Strawberry Swirl – Great Divide Brewing (Belgian-Style Yeti)
  3. Cream Cheese Apricot Ale – Dry Dock Brewing Co. (Apricot Blonde)
  4. Black Forest Porter – Denver Beer Co. (Graham Cracker Porter)
  5. Brown Ale Chip – Avery Brewing Co. (Elle’s Brown Ale)
  6. Strong Coffee Oreo – Renegade Brewing Co. (Sunday Morning)
  7. Vegan Banana Mothership – New Belgium Brewing (Mothership Wit)
  8. Grizzly Bear – Rocky Mountain Soda Co. (Chocolate Root Beer)

I sat down with owner Chia Basinger to talk about how they got started, the awesomeness of Colorado beer, and the meaning of life.  Here are the highlights:

On how Sweet Action came to be:

We moved in here (from New York) and thought, “We need an ice cream shop in this neighborhood.”  Well maybe we’ll just do it.  We’re not doing anything we like any better.  We kinda looked into it and it looked like a good idea.  All of a sudden we were neck deep in it.  It all happened very organically.

On making beer ice cream flavors:

We started doing beer ice creams when we first opened up.  That was always something we wanted to do.  We like to play with beer, we like to play with ice cream, that was kind of a natural combination for us. … We always wanted to do it with all Colorado beers.  We try to break out some new recipes every year around this time to use them. … Beer is something Colorado does very well.  We try to always focus on doing local stuff and using local produce.  We try to emphasize that part of what we do.  The fact that so many cool beers are being made here and so many people are doing it now.   It’s a natural fit for us to try to make a lot of good ice creams with it. … We like to use big beers with a lot of malt and sweetness and flavor. … The more I learn about different beer styles, the more we’re going to try to put out new recipes and keep playing with stuff.

On the difficulties of adding beer to ice cream:

It’s one thing to taste the beer and be like “this is good”, it’s another thing to think “what the fuck would go with this?”. … The Belgian Yeti and that strawberry… I don’t know where that came from.  At the end of a bomber, I was like “This is gonna be a great idea!”.  But it came out really well. … You can throw a lot of things into ice cream and everything is going to cause some sort of difficulties in one way or another.  Beer does cause us some textural problems.  It makes things not cohere quite as well, so you don’t get quite as creamy of a texture (alcohol has a lower freezing point).  We have found it works best if we uncarbonate it, if we flatten it first.

Chia Basinger, Owner

Sweet Action Ice Cream also features several other alcohol-infused flavors, including their extremely popular Stranahan’s Whiskey Brickle and the unique Colorado Margarita.

We make our own sour mix.  We squeeze all our own lemon and lime and orange.  We squeeze a lot of our own citrus here.  I used to bar tend, so I have a margarita recipe in my head.  So that’s our sour mix recipe that we make in house and we use all Colorado products (Orange Liquor from Leopold Bros. instead of Tripel Sec and Agave Spirit by Peach Street Distillery).

No matter what flavor tickles your fancy, make sure you stop by Sweet Action before these flavors are gone… forever.  They even thought of how busy you’re going to be as you run from one GABF event to another, and are selling a 6-pack for $30.  So go, sample them all, and tell us which was your favorite!  Also, keep your eyes peeled for some Chocolate Yeti flavors that will be released later this year.  Your mouth isn’t watering yet?  Here are some more pics:

Sweet Action Ice Cream

52 Broadway
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 282-4645

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About Sean Buchan

Sean is a Physical Therapist and Photographer living in (and loving) Denver, Colorado. He enjoys shooting just about anything but his true passion is capturing the craft beer culture here in Denver. If you enjoy his photographs check out Beertographer.

  • Dave Butler

    It’s a shame they only do this for a week. Would love to have them make this a year-round thing and distribute them at the participating breweries themselves. There are a lot of great Colorado beers that mix well with ice cream – I love imperial stouts (like Great Divide’s Yeti line) and pouring that over various flavors of ice cream. Beer Floats rule. The LA Beer Fest had a special Beer Float event earlier this month. I wish someone would make beer ice cream a BIG event during GABF. Grats to Sweet Action Ice Cream for making these tempting sounding treats.

  • Martin May


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