I know a lot of people who don’t really do beer. My younger brother for instance, pretty much will only drink beer with cider. His faves are snakebites (stout and cider) and hot-rods (yellow beer and cider), but he’ll occasionally go out and get a nice wit, IPA or fancy stout. He can tell you what he likes and what he’s in the mood for, but he’s not a diehard beer guy. There are also the people who like to drink beer, but it’s way too filling to drink more than one, and then they have to switch to cocktails. There are a lot of people like this, and this week I’m writing for them.
A bit of taboo here in the states, beer cocktails (beertails) are the best way to drink beer and not drink beer at the same time. For some reason, especially in beer culture, mixing beers with juices, other beers or with liquor is frowned upon. True, there are a few exceptions: red beers, brass monkeys, car bombs, etc., but those are usually just beer mixed with one ingredient that makes beer have more alcohol or more tolerable. But, beer is either too pure for beer nerds to mix with something else, or too lowbrow to be taken seriously at a cocktail bar. Rarely are the ingredients, liquors and beers chosen to create a cohesive drink that can be as classy and complex as a Manhattan or a martini.
So here I am to the rescue, I guess. I’m not a bartender by any means, and my tastebuds are set to taste for description, not appreciation. None of these drinks exist (yet), so don’t go wandering into a bar expecting them to know what it is. But make them at home, or memorize the recipe when you go out.
A take on a screwdriver and a brass monkey, this cocktail will add a little booze to your brass monkey and the beer will add complexity to the screwdriver, as the malt in the wheat beer will really come to the foreground with the added OJ.
2 ounces chilled vodka
2 ounces orange juice
8 ounces wheat beer
slice of lime for garnish
Chill the vodka (either shaken with ice or stored in a freezer) mix with OJ in a 16-ounce shaker glass, pour beer to fill the glass.
A lot of the debate with beertails is if one should layer the cocktail and the beer so that they each maintain their own qualities, or mix them to bring out complimentary flavors. This is an example of a layered cocktail and is a play off a Black Velvet.
6 ounces stout
4 ounces champagne
4-6 frozen blackberries
2 ounces chambord
Pour stout into a pilsner glass, pour champagne over a spoon so not to disturb the stout, add enough blackberries to cover the champagne, then drizzle the chambord over the berries. The result should be a three-layered cocktail with streaks of purple though the middle layer.
Another usual taboo when making a beertail is the use of ice, as it will water down the beer and kill the carbonation. But this recipe breaks this rule so that in the end you get a strong cocktail with lots of good balanced flavors and a hint of carbonation.
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces grapefruit juice (I prefer white grapefruit, but any freshly squeezed juice is great)
8 ounces IPA with fruit-forward hops (important because the piney/resinous IPAs tend to lend too much bitterness to the cocktail; think of the difference between Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Euphoria)
Lime or grapefruit slice for garnish
Mix the ice, vodka and juice into a shaker, pour contents into a shaker glass, pour beer to top of the glass. Garnish with lime or grapefruit slice.
Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Company. His first book of poetry, “The Blank Target,” was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop. [email protected]