Call them brewtinis, beeritas, beertails or just plain tasty. Mixed drinks with beer are in vogue these days, appearing in trendy restaurants and bars all over the country.

Beer geeks will likely turn up their sensitive noses at these sudsy hybrids but they may appeal to an audience who are not typically beer drinkers, to women (brew demographics are skewed toward males), and the younger cocktail crowd, which is always craving new taste sensations.

Ever-inventive mixologists have been experimenting with beer, inspiring a new round of cocktail creativity. The results range from substituting beer for the vodka in a Bloody Mary to the wild combo of beer, gin and grenadine, aptly named Hop, Skip & Go Naked.

Not that beer concoctions are new. In 18th century London, bartenders blended various proportions of light and dark beers to order–a beer style that evolved into modern-day porter. And the prototypical Shandygaff and Black & Tan have been served in British pubs for centuries.

Beer cocktails are not hard to concoct. Here are a few standards and suggestions. Vary the beer, vary the ingredients. Taste and have fun.

Beer cocktails fall into three categories:

Beer combined with beer: The venerable Black and Tan is stout and pale ale; the bitter ale offsets the sweetness of the stout. Traditionally, the stout is Guinness and the pale ale is Bass. The trick is to put the ale into the pint glass first, then carefully pour the stout over an inverted spoon (Bass makes a nifty gadget for the purpose); the beers’ differing densities result in a layered drink.

The Half & Half is a variation that substitutes Harp Irish Lager for the pale ale. The Black & Brown mixes Guinness Stout and Newcastle Brown Ale. Combine Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale with the dark Guinness to create the Blacksmith.

The easiest way to change up these classic quaffs is to substitute American craft stouts, porters, pale ales and lagers for their British counterparts.

Beer blended with other beverages: A tart mixture of lager and lemonade, the Shandygaff is refreshing drink on a hot summer day. In Germany, the drink is called the Radler, which translates as “cyclist.” Some variations of the Shandy call for beer and ginger beer.

Traditionally, a Black Velvet is a luxurious mix of Guinness Stout and Champagne; an American dark beer with a California sparkler would no doubt work equally well.

Mixing cider and beer is common, especially in the British Isles where the hard stuff is more popular than here in the Colonies. Usually blended with stout, the drink’s name is often derived from the brand of hard cider; such as the Black Pecker, made with Woodpecker Cider.

Purists may be shocked, but in that beer nirvana Belgium, it’s standard practice for imbibers to tame fiercely sour lambics with fruit syrups like cherry or strawberry. In Germany, the equally sour Berliner Weisse beer is usually dosed by savvy drinkers with sweet woodruff-flavored syrup.

Given the Mexican brand Corona’s popularity (and its flavor profile), it is not surprising that the Michelada or “cerveza preparada” concept has migrated to the U.S. These are light lagers variously spiked with lime juice, chile peppers, sangrita (a spicy tomato juice) and Clamato Juice; usually served in a tall glass with salted rim. Change up the Michelada with tastier Dos Equis, dark Negra Modelo or a brew from Mexican craft producer Cucapa.

Beer mixed with spirits: This last category includes the familiar boilermaker (a shot and a beer) as well as new variations on the dive bomb (shots of Jagermeister or Red Bull dropped into a pint of ale).

For something more chic, head to a trendy cocktail bar in any major city. Mayahuel, in New York, for example, devotes a section of its menu to beer cocktails, including the El Jimador’s Shifty–a potent brew of pineapple-infused mescal, lime juice, sugarcane and Negra Modelo beer served in glass with a spiced-salt rim.

See more recipes for beer cocktails

Published on May 17, 2010
Topics: Beer CocktailsMixology