Bartenders are discovering some inventive ways to use craft brews
John Schlimm admits that the idea of beer cocktails was not initially appealing.
“It sounded almost sacrilegious,” says Schlimm, author of several books and cookbooks about beer. You could say beer is in his blood. He's the great-great grandson of Peter Straub, founder of the Straub Brewery in St. Mary's Pa.
But after two years of taste-testing and tinkering with the 70 beer cocktail recipes in his “The Ultimate Beer Lover's Happy Hour” (Cumberland House, $14.99), Schlimm has changed his mind.
“It's really scrumptious,” he says.
Schlimm's original reaction may have come from memories of his great-great-great Aunt Reggie, whose favorite cocktail was a glass of Straub beer with a shot of whiskey.
But the new generation of beer cocktails is light years away from Aunt Reggie's Boilermaker that your great-grandfather quaffed after his shift ended at U.S. Steel.
Beer cocktails “are more like a mixed drink — two elements,” says Mirella Amato, the author of “Beerology” (Random House, $24.95) and certified Master Cicerone, the beer world's equivalent of the wine trade's Master Sommelier.
Beer cocktails generally contain more ingredients in smaller proportions — spirits, mixers and other flavorings that contribute aromas, flavors and carbonation, Amato says.
“It's about adding a flavor (of beer) that's not drowned not by other flavors,” says Amato, who developed nine beer cocktails for “Beerology.” “It's not cutting beer with something so you can't taste the beer.”
To test this concept, stop by Tavern 1837 inside Palazzo Ristorante in Washington, Pa., and ask Will Lenz, the barman, to serve up a Framboise Lemonade, one of the beer cocktails he has created.
Limoncello and Tuaca, a vanilla citrus liqueur, is combined with Sicilian lemon marmalade, muddled lavender and freshly pressed lemon juice, shaken with ice, then poured into a tall glass with a layer of Lindeman's Framboise Lambic floating on top.
“The Framboise tones down the tartness of the Limoncello,” Lenz says. “You forget that it's beer. It adjusts the flavor profile.”
Or, pull up a bar stool at the Sharp Edge's 922 Penn, Downtown, and try the Kentucky Sunrise created by Brett McMahan, the Sharp Edge's cellarman for all five of its locations.
It's a blend of Green Flash West Coast IPA, orange juice, agave nectar, shaken and served over ice.
“It's like a mimosa,” McMahan says. He created it for brunch customers at Sharp Edge's beer-centric restaurants who might opt for it instead of a classic Champagne-based mimosa.
The Downtown location has been known to go through 20 gallons of its beer-infused Sangria on a weekend. The cocktail combines fresh raspberries and oranges with agave nectar, the French wine appertif Lillet, Framboise and Wittekerke, a wheat beer.
Women are often the core market for beer cocktails, because they have a lighter alcohol content, are fruitier and not heavy, McMahan says.
“At your old-school beer bar, a husband and wife come in. She doesn't like beer and wants something in a mixed drink. The guy will have a beer,” he says. Given the proper description, women are open to trying a beer cocktail. “It's a stepping stone for someone to get into beer.”
Many customers tend to confine their drinking to a single category – beer or wine or mixed drink — says Adam Henry, spirits and cocktails director at The Independent Brewing Co. in Squirrel Hill.
During craft beer week in April, he devised several beer cocktails for cocktail drinkers who accompany beer enthusiasts to this bar that specializes in local craft beers.
“It's a natural fit, because we're a craft beer bar,” Henry says.
While some purists might be appalled at mixing their favorite brew, a drink named Holland Oats — a pun on the music group Hall and Oates — was popular with cocktail drinkers.
Ingredients include Dutch gin, sugar syrup made from Honey Nut Cheerios, oatmeal stout, a whole egg and a nutmeg garnish.
Henry describes it as a malty, nutty, creamy drink.
“If you describe (a cocktail) as a ‘beery eggnog' it will put people off,” he says. “The role of a waiter or bartender is to break down barriers on what to expect.”
Beach Party Punch
Whether by beach, lake or pool, kick back and enjoy this punch, which takes the best that life has to offer and translates it into each lingering sip. Balance the rum, vodka, amaretto and gin quartet with your go-to choice of pale lager, or a fruit beer or Kölsch you haven't gotten to try yet.
From “The Ultimate Beer Lover's Happy Hour.”
4 ounces rum
4 ounces vodka
4 ounces amaretto
4 ounces gin
24 ounces pale lager, fruit beer, or Kölsch
1 can (12 ounces) Sprite or ginger ale
8 ounces orange juice
8 ounces pineapple juice
Orange slices, pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries, for garnish, optional
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
The Tropical Tripel cocktail is inspired by the fruity notes in tripels. It is playfully conceived as a warm-weather vacation in a glass for those who reside in cooler climates, perhaps behind monastery walls.
1⁄4 ounce Malibu coconut-flavored rum
1⁄4 teaspoon crème de banane
1 ounce pineapple juice
3 1⁄2 ounces tripel
1⁄2 ounce spiced rum
Pineapple pieces, for garnish
Shake the Malibu, crème de banane and pineapple juice, and strain them into a 6-ounce champagne flute. Very gently, pour in the tripel. Float the spiced rum on top and garnish.
Inspired by the classic Campari-based Americano cocktail, this drink turns the tables, spicing up a classic American style of beer and taking it into traditional Italian cocktail territory.
1⁄2 ounce ruby port
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce orange juice
Dash of bitters
5 ounces American pale ale
Grapefruit twist, for garnish
Fill a 12-ounce highball glass with 1⁄2 cup crushed ice. Add the port, Campari, orange juice, bitters and beer and stir gently. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
This summery cocktail brings together the fresh flavors of cucumber and lime with herbal notes from gin and pilsner. The resulting combination of flavors takes the refreshing nature of pilsner to a whole new level.
1 1⁄2 ( 1⁄2-inch thick) slices cucumber, peeled
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon lime juice
1⁄2 ounce gin
2 1⁄2 ounces pilsner
Cucumber wheel, for garnish
Cut the cucumber slices into thin strips. Muddle the cucumber, sugar and lime juice at the bottom of an 8-ounce rocks glass. Add gin and stir. Half-fill the glass with ice. Gently pour in the pilsner and garnish with a cucumber wheel.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Solarize Allegheny powers up with communities
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Architecture: Pittsburgh history in 10 houses
- Record golf ball collection drives Connellsville native
- Newsmaker: Tamika Duck
- Historic WWII-era landing ship tank docking at Heinz Field
- Cooking Class: Grilled Escarole Salad at E2
- Road Trip! Destination: Cincinnati
- As plants grow and change shape, your home may be due for a landscape update
- Quick grilled chicken doesn’t skimp on flavor
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov