Special Scoops: Jamaica's I-Scream Ice Cream

In Jamaica, beer makes ice cream even sweeter

Landon Nordeman

I've never been much of an ice cream eater; the dairy products I truly adore are cheese and sour cream. But the scoops at Jamaica's I-Scream have me enthralled. At this shop in the courtyard of Devon House, Kingston, Jamaica's, landmark manor house—built 130 years ago by merchant George Stiebel, the island's first black millionaire—crowds gather nightly to lick luscious ice cream in tropical flavors that are tough to find in the States: tangy soursop, perfumey guava, and, in wintertime, sweet-tart sorrel. The just-picked island fruit makes the creamy dessert so fresh tasting that it wins over even a tough sell like me.

But my favorite flavor here is made with an ingredient I love more than dairy: beer. Stout, a dark Irish ale brewed with roasted barley or malt, was brought to the island in the 1820s. The stout introduced to Jamaica was made with extra malt, to produce the needed alcohol to withstand the long sea journey from the Continent. I-Scream's stout ice cream is churned using Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and Dragon Stout, a local brew that Jamaicans have long partnered with dairy in a punch made with nutmeg, vanilla, and condensed milk. At 7.5 percent alcohol, these beers are boozier, maltier, and sweeter than standard Irish stouts. They make terrific ice cream: rich but (because the beer adds liquid to the batter) not too creamy, with a bittersweet malt flavor that adds complexity to the dessert. On a balmy evening beneath the banyan trees, it's the best night-cap of all.