Ice cream beer? A summer festival treat in Ypsilanti

Dawn Needham and Tom Gromak
The Detroit News

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ... ice cream beer?

Jake Demski, head brewer for Sawyer-based Greenbush brewing discusses their 31 flavors of ice-cream inspired beers.

That's what Greenbush Brewing Co. of Sawyer brought to the first day of the 18th annual Summer Beer Festival. 31 flavors, to be exact.

The two-day festival at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries sampling more than 900 craft beers.

Among the brewers with unusual offerings is Greenbush: Its series of 31 ice-cream themed beers range from salted caramel to banana split to the ubiquitous Superman. Head brewer Jake Demski said the idea grew out of a conversation a group of staffers had while traveling from an event in Illinois.

"Scott's sitting next to me and he said '31 flavors,' " Demski said. And it took off.

The beers are made from a series of standard base brews, a chocolate stout, a malty base, a hefeweizen (the wheat base flavors the banana-themed entries), and pale ale, in the sorbets.

Demski said the goal was to "make something that was beer for people, not just sugar water. They're ice-cream-inspired beers. I make beer. I don't make ice cream."

Demski predicts the Superman flavor will be the hottest taste at the beer festival. He made it with 1.5 pounds of raspberries, 1.5 pounds of strawberries, 8 vanilla beans, 2 zested lemons, and Blue Moon, vanilla and strawberry ice creams.

Superman was the flavor Bryan Alkire of Kalamazoo chose, and he gave it his seal of approval. "It tastes like ice cream, but still beerish," Alkire said.

Demski said some of Greenbush's ice cream flavors might make it to the brewpub or stores, so it's not just a novelty. "They're beers, first and foremost."

Come back to The Detroit News' new beer blog "First Draft" for more posts from Summer Beer Festival.