Beer Cocktails

Beat the heat with these beer-y twists on classic beverages

Cocktails aren’t just made from spirits: you can mix up delicious drinks using beer, too. While true beer purists will snub their nose at such treatment, there’s no denying the thirst-quenching power of a fizzy, cold, beer-based beverage—especially on a sunny patio.

hsg-dish-beer-cocktails

All types of beer contribute a refreshing effervescence to a cocktail. Different styles of beer will give their own unique elements to a drink: dark, malty beers like stouts and porters will give a lot of roasted sweetness, while light, hoppy beers like lagers and India Pale Ales will contribute citrusy bitterness and acidity.

Just like regular cocktails, there are no hard rules to follow: beer drinks can be as simple or as complicated as you like—and the sky is the limit as far as creativity goes. Of course, beer cocktails will taste best with good-quality beer, but they are also an easy way to disguise the flavour of less-than-stellar beer.

Shandy

This is the easiest way to start playing with beer as a cocktail ingredient: a shandy is simply beer mixed with a soft drink or fruit juice, commonly ginger ale, ginger beer, carbonated lemonade, orange juice or apple juice. The proportion is approximately half-and-half, though it can be adjusted to suit any taste preference.

Shandies are most popular in western Europe, especially Germany. They are most commonly made with light-tasting beers like lagers or pilsners (as opposed to dark beer); wheat beer (also called white beer or witbier) is very common in Germany. Fruit beers can also be used, such as in the recipe below, for an additional fruity kick.

Kat Radler

Picture of a Beer CocktailAlley Kat Main Squeeze Grapefruit Ale (or Aprikat)

Carbonated lemonade (or a mixture of still lemonade and club soda)

Fill a pint glass with the ale, allow head to settle, then top up with carbonated lemonade.

Black and Tan

This is another very simple beer cocktail. As the name describes, it is made with two different types of beer: a light beer (usually pale ale) and a dark beer (usually stout). The traditional beers used to make a Black and Tan are Guinness stout and Harp lager, but any similar beers may be substituted for those. It can be served blended or layered, in which the darker beer floats on top of the lighter beer—this is possible because they have different relative densities, and is accomplished by carefully pouring the stout over an upside down spoon to prevent splashing and mixing.

The name Black and Tan probably came from England, where it originally referred to the colours of a dog’s coat; it was first recorded as a name for a drink in 1881 by the American humour magazine Puck. Just don’t call it that in Ireland: the Black and Tans were the British paramilitary troops who formed to suppress the Irish after the failed Easter Rising in 1916, so named for the colours of their uniform. They still make this drink in Ireland, but it’s called a Half and Half.

Full Moon Winter

Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale

Ribstone Creek Old Man Winter Porter

Fill a pint glass halfway with the pale ale. Allow the head to settle. Hold a large spoon upside down over the glass and slowly pour the porter over top until the glass is full.

Beergarita

Picture of a Beer CocktailBars and restaurants charge double digits for their beer margaritas, but you can make them at home for way less—plus you can cut back on all that cavity-causing sugary syrup. (Or not, if that’s your thing—you do you.)

Admittedly, this drink will probably offend both beer and cocktail purists, since it takes both of those things and completely undermines their original essence. But you know what? These taste really, really good on a patio.

Beer Margarita

(recipe by Tarquin Melnyk of justcocktails.org)

1 oz reposado tequila

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz Cointreau

1 dash Ms Betters Orange Bitters

Moon Under Water Dry-Hopped Pilsner

Combine in shaker. Add four square ice cubes. Shake and dump into a large rocks glass. Top with the pilsner. Garnish with lime wheels and a sea salt rim.

Beer Punch

Punch has a very broad definition and has come to mean a fruity drink that can have any number of different ingredients, alcoholic or otherwise. Beer might not be the first ingredient you’d think of in a punch, but it works great. You can keep it as simple as you like, simply mixing the beer of your choice with various fruit juices, frozen or fresh fruit slices and berries, sugar, grenadine, simple syrup or soda for some sweetness, and of course ice—lots of ice. Add vodka, gin or other spirits if you want it to have some additional kick.

Sour Punch

(recipe by Tarquin Melnyk of justcocktails.org)

0.75 oz gin

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz chamomile simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water, steeped with chamomile to taste)

Wild Rose Cowbell Kettle Sour

Stir with ice and strain into beer sleeve. Top with sour beer. Garnish with slice of citrus.

Michelada or Baesar

Hailing from Mexico, the Michelada is a citrusy, savoury beverage that combines beer (lager or another pale style) with lime juice and a blend of other ingredients that are often spicy and savoury, like hot sauce, sliced chile peppers and tomato juice. It’s usually served in a salt-rimmed glass.

If that sounds very similar to a Caesar, you’re not wrong: Micheladas are often made with the same ingredients found in the vodka-based Caesars that are so common here in Alberta, like Clamato juice and Worcestershire sauce. So much so, in fact, that Baesars—beer-based Caesars—are commonly found on drink menus around town. Just like the original Caesar, there’s pretty much no limit to the number or type of spices and flavours you can include, so feel free to experiment.

Classic Baesar

Lime, cut into wedges

Celery salt

1 – 2 dashes Tabasco sauce

2 – 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Fresh black pepper

Chili powder

Fat Unicorn Last Call Blonde Lager

Clamato juice

Wet the rim of a glass with lime and then dip in the celery salt. Fill the glass with ice and then add the Tabasco, Worcestershire, a few grinds of black pepper and a sprinkle of chili powder. Fill the glass about halfway with lager, then top with the Clamato juice. Stir well and garnish with a lime wedge.

Lambic Sangria

A lambic is a type of beer that originated in Belgium. It is made through spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts—as opposed to most beer, which is fermented with cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts—which gives it a distinctive dry, sour, wine- or cider-like taste. Some types of lambics are made with the addition of fruits, including sour cherries (kriek), raspberries (framboise), blackcurrant (cassis) and strawberry (aardbei). These fruity lambics are the best used to make sangria, since they have similar flavours found in wine.

Sangria is typically made with a blend of fruit juices (often orange and lemon), Cointreau or Triple Sec and various fresh fruits. Beer sangria follows this template, with the bonus of being lower in alcohol (and therefore less headache-inducing) than the original wine-based version.

Kriek Sangria

1 750mL bottle Cascade Kriek Ale

1 330mL bottle Village Wit White Wheat Ale

4 oz Alberta Premium Rye

1 oz Grand Marnier

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher with lots of ice and serve in chilled glasses.

Mel Priestley
mel@vueweekly.com