As Jason Weaver handed customers their beers, he asked if they wanted an ice cream sandwich.
After all, he told them, it was National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.
To celebrate the holiday and July being National Ice Cream Month, Monocacy Brewing Company gave out ice cream sandwiches with a purchase of a beer, inviting people into the brewery from the 90 degree and humid day. Inside or at one of the picnic tables across from the brewery, patrons could cool off with a cold beer and a frozen sandwich.
The idea of ice cream and beer might be a little offputting to some, including customer Paul Wolford, of Virginia, who said he would have his ice cream when he finished his beer. Those who have partaken in alcoholic drink Irish Car Bomb know beer curdles dairy products, but at Monocacy Brewing Company, beer has always gone with ice cream.
The building that hosts the brewery once housed Ebert Ice Cream Company, and the back of the building reflects its past. Brewed beer for Monocacy Brewing Company and Brewer’s Alley — Monocacy Brewing Company is the contracted brewer for Brewer’s — sits in a temperature-controlled room, once used a freezer for ice cream. Some of the brewing is done in equipment that came from the creamery, Weaver said.
Most of the beer brewed at Monocacy Brewing Company does not hearken back to the building’s former days as a creamery, Weaver said.
“But there’s a lot of things we kept here to pay homage to the ice cream history,” he said.
For the past three years, the brewery has released an ice cream related beer called Ghost of the Ice Cream Man, a vanilla milk stout. The lactose in the beer gives it a creamier mouthfeel, somewhat reminiscent of ice cream melting in a person’s mouth, Weaver said.
This year, during the month of July, Monocacy Brewing Company fully embraced ice cream and beer. Every Thursday in July, starting on the second week, the brewery releases a special firkin, about 10.8 gallons, of a variant of Ghost of the Ice Cream Man. The first Firkin Thursday, July 11, the brewery put the base Ghost of the Ice Cream Man in the firkin.
This week, it was mint choco chip.
Kiley Gibbs, of Knoxville, who shared a flight of beer with her husband, described the special beer as tasting like a Thin Mint. Both she and her husband agreed that the mint choco chip beer went well with the ice cream sandwich. As did the Brewtus, a coffee stout.
The Brewtus and the Scotch Ale were popular choices among patrons Sunday afternoon, at least when it came to what went best with the ice cream.
Megan Schartner, of Brunswick, and her father, Dr. Mike Durant, of Middletown, stopped by the brewery while they were brewing beer next door. Schartner liked the Brewtus best for ice cream, her father the Scotch Ale.
Amy Redman, of Silver Spring, came to Monocacy Brewing Company on a double date with friends from Greencastle, Pennsylvania. The brewery was a good middle spot for them.
She was a fan of the Brewtus for the ice cream sandwich. Her favorite was the Gose of Althea. She described it as light, citrusy with a hint of salt, a bit sour. While it was refreshing on a hot day, it was not a good pair for the ice cream.
“If I paired [the ice cream sandwich] with a gose, it’d be hella weird,” she said.
Between the two couples, they managed to try all the beers on tap. Each had a different favorite. Crista Kowalski, of Greencastle, liked the Scotch Ale, which had an oaky finish and a sweetness to it.
Josh Trott, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, likes New England India pale ale Hyperion’s Chaos, which was citrusy and had hints of tropical fruit. Like Redman, his drink did not pair well with ice cream.
Colin Morrison, of Silver Spring, also liked an IPA, this one a double IPA called Radiance. It had a good ratio of bitterness to citrus, he said. Fruity IPA’s, in his opinion, are for the summer.
But maybe not for ice cream.
Morrison, Trott and Kowalski all agreed the Scotch Ale went best with the ice cream sandwich because the caramel from the scotch paired nicely with different elements of the frozen treat.
The coffee stout was a favorite among Monocacy Brewing Company employees for ice cream. Weaver and Megan Wright, a beer pourer in the taproom, both said the Brewtus was their choice for a beer paired with ice cream.
“Coffee, ice cream, beer, all at the same time. What’s not to love?” Weaver said.