Ben & Jerry's recently partnered with New Belgium to make a beer based on one of their iconic ice cream flavors, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I know what you’re thinking: “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough beer? Has society gone too far? Or maybe, like me, you’re thinking “Has society finally got one thing right?”

liquor, alcohol, beer
Elizabeth Vana

Generally, beer and ice-cream aren’t two flavors that would go together well. Excuse me for being a skeptic, but there was a lot that could go wrong here. Then again, maybe a sip of this beer would taste exactly like the cold vanilla sweetness of ice cream?

milk, beer
Elizabeth Vana

I brought together five 21+ college students to get their takes on the beer. We began by sampling the delicious blessing that is Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and then moved on to trying the beer.

 First Impressions

ice, alcohol, cream, liquor, beer
Elizabeth Vana

“Definitely smells like beer,” said my friend Ellen, who suspiciously wafted in the alcohol's scent. It should be noted that Ellen made an earlier comment that all beer was bad, and was quite skeptical that this one could be any different.

Everyone else agreed that the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough beer smelled like, well, beer, though some did detect a sweet undertone. Sarah, another taste-tester, said that it had a “yeasty sweetness,” to it. But Annie, an English major who has a special way with words, put it the most eloquently: “It has a vagina-like smell,” she said, adding, "But this doesn't smell like vagina."

First Taste Test

Elizabeth Vana

Most everyone made a face when the beer hit their taste buds. It didn’t help that we had started by eating the ice cream, and the bitterness of beer right after a sugar buzz is unpleasant, to say the least. This did not taste like a sweet beer.

However, according to New Belgium, this beer has an International Bitterness Unit (IBU) of 12, which means that it has a very low bitterness. So maybe it is actually a sweet beer? Or at least not technically a bitter one. I don’t know man, I’m not a beer connoisseur. Compared to ice cream, this beer was falling flat on the sugar scale.

Elizabeth Vana

Almost all of the taste testers agreed that it wasn't super sweet. The general consensus was that it was flavored exactly like generic beer. Comments ranged from, “I don't think this tastes anything like chocolate chip cookie dough” to “They slapped a label on it and were like ‘Aight, we can charge $10 for a bottle of Miller Lite!’”

Some hated the generic beer taste. One of the testers, Michael, wondered aloud what New Belgium did to the beer to give it its flavor. “Terrible, terrible things” Sarah responded.

stout, ale, alcohol, liquor, wine, beer
Elizabeth Vana

Only one tester thought the beer really tasted like ice cream: GMU Spoon’s very own Adrienne Galang. The only one of the testers who is a huge fan of beer, and New Belgium in particular, Adrienne initially agreed that the beer tasted "like a regular New Belgium ale".

However, after a few more sips she began to taste elements of chocolate chip cookie dough. Adrienne actually thought it tasted so similar to the sweetness of ice cream that she called it a “one and done kinda beer” because it was too sugary.

Responding to Reviews

alcohol, wine, beer
Elizabeth Vana

Next, we read New Belgium’s description of the beer to see if they got the taste right. On their website, New Belgium describes their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ale as:

“A full-bodied beer that seduces with a perfect balance of vanilla and chocolate, and finishes with just the right amount of sweetness.”

They create the flavor by mixing “hefty” amounts of vanilla, chocolate, and brown sugar into their blonde ale base during the brewing process.

Hearing this, Annie practically became offended. “There aren't even cookies in it!” she laughed. Sarah comforted her with a sarcastic reminder, “There's chocolate and vanilla in the brewing process—at least, they're claiming it's there,”.

“I liked the taste of the ice cream better, I want that back,” Annie responded, pouting. 

Elizabeth Vana

Michael swished the beer around his mouth, trying to detect the “sweet ice cream flavor” that Adrienne identified so easily. He paused, noting the beer had the “slightest, slightest if I'm looking for it, taste of chocolate.”

Familiar with the fact that wines taste different in different shaped glasses, Michael poured his bottle into a wine glass. Hoping beer would also follow this principle, he swirled it carefully and took another sip. “Nope it doesn't taste any better, even in a different glass,” he concluded. “I need to be more drunk to drink this.”

We all laughed, and agreed that we’d probably like the beer better if we were drunk. Little did we know that those words would come back to haunt us. We were having other drinks along with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough beer, and were already starting to get pretty buzzed.

wine, lemonade, lemon, juice
Elizabeth Vana

We began to examine the beer more, and there was one thing about it that did really impress us. Michael was the first to notice the small blurb on the bottle, and exclaimed, “Hey, they’re giving money to combat climate change!” Sarah, enamored with the environment but still unimpressed by the beer’s flavor, rolled her eyes, “At least they're being ethical.”

coffee, tea, beer
Elizabeth Vana

Intrigued, and getting drunker by the second, we jumped down the Google-hole to learn more about what New Belgium and Ben & Jerry’s were up to. What we found knocked our socks off more than ice cream beer clearly ever could.

First off, both New Belgium and Ben & Jerry’s are committed to fighting climate change, and the development of this beer was one of their ways to do that. Secondly, both companies have great records with treating their employees right. New Belgium is 100% employee owned and offers awesome benefits, like free trips to Belgium.

Ben & Jerry’s starts wages for their entry-level employees at $16 an hour and adjust it every year to match the cost of living in Vermont. We found ourselves drunkenly fawning over the certified 100% Awesomeness of these practices.

Elizabeth Vana

By now, we were pretty hyped about social justice and stumbling around a little bit. Naturally, we thought it would be a great idea to let our inebriated taste buds have a go at the beer again—everyone knows drunk taste buds are better at tasting flavors, that’s just science.

Annie immediately abandoned her bottle again. “Forget the beer—this ice cream though!” and returned to nuzzle the pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Sarah questioned her earlier remarks, “I can taste vanilla in the back, maybe?” Indeed, our taste buds were starting to pick up on the beer’s subtle flavor.

And the drunker we got, the more tolerable it became. Ellen sipped her bottle and stated, “I can judge how drunk I am based on if I like beer and this is starting to taste good, so…”

alcohol, ale, beer
Elizabeth Vana

At this point, I remembered that beer is supposed to be best when it’s cold. So, stumbling over our own feet, we stuck the bottles in the freezer. After ten minutes, we tasted the beer again.

The coldness was a game changer. The beer became sweeter and even more chocolatey. “Can I rewrite my review?” Annie asked. “You can definitely taste the chocolate chip cookie dough when it's super cold,” Michael marveled. Finally, the beer had satisfied our drunken sweet tooth.

beer, chocolate
Elizabeth Vana

Did They Get It On The Bottle-Nose?

It’s fitting that beer based off of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream is best served at the same temperature as the original substance. Love it or hate it, this New Belgium/Ben & Jerry’s beer was a fun experience full of flavor.

It may not taste exactly like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but it was still a sugar rush. Try it out for yourself, even if you just want to support New Belgium and Ben & Jerry’s efforts to fight climate change.