Mix It With Beer
                               by  Bob Montemurro


I just finished reading an interesting book on the Victorian England.
One interesting thing I learned was that it was an era when mixing of
beer with other liquids was very popular.  Today we might say it was
the beginning of beer cocktails.  

These drinks are much more refined than the whiskey-in-beer
boilermaker of your granddad. Beer has gone on to make friends with
whiskey, and it has made peace with vodka.

Because beer cocktails tend to have more volume than other mixed
drinks and to be served in larger glasses.  They make for perfect
drinks  thirst quenchers thanks to the effervescence that beer brings
into the glass.

What bartenders say and what I’ve indeed experienced, is that beer,
calms down, stretches out and provides a subtle fizz to a cocktail
without the watery and innocuous impact of, say, club soda. Its
yeastiness balances fruity effects, rescuing a cocktail from excessive
sweetness. And its relatively low alcohol content, in relation to hard
liquor, means it can add to the overall volume of a drink without
making it too lethal. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a beer guy and
nothing beats just that.  However for fun and variety you might want
to give some of these a try.  

Here are some of the more popular beer cocktails around:
Brewers Special - pour one ounce rye rum into one pint of amber ale.  
Do not stir or shake (sorry Mr. Bond).
Beer Buster - Pour 1/2 pint of beer (pale ale works well) into chilled
mug.  Add two ounces of cold vodka.  Stir lightly.
Cola Shot - Mix one bottle chilled ale (I love doing this with an altbier or
even a maibock)with one bottle of cold cola - you'll feel better if you
make that diet cola.  Stir lightly.
Velvet Brownie - ah, my favorite, but it's not for the faint of heart or
the designated driver.  Mix six ounces of imperial stout or barley wine
with 6 ounces of port wine.  Serve chilled.

If you want to try a drink that purportedly goes back to those
Victorian times this might be the one to consider making.
The Lamplighter's Nog - you will need 2 egg whites, 4 egg yolks, 3
teaspoons honey, and 1 quart of ale (IPA will kick it up a notch).  Whip
the egg whites into a frothy consistency.  Beat the egg yolks.  Add the
yolks and the honey to the whites.  

In a separate saucepan bring the ale to a boil and then lower the heat
slightly.   Slowly add the egg to the ale.  Pour back and forth between
pans until frothy.  Pour into mugs and serve hot with cinnamon.  A
touch of nutmeg on top can't hurt.  Nice tasty, warming beverage but
with little alcohol kick since most of it was boiled off.

If you're really looking for a low alcohol beer cocktail the most popular
drink is called a Shandy.  In fact, several breweries now make a
version.  You can do it at home by just mixing half pint of pale ale and
half pint of lemonade.  In Germany you might hear that called a
Radler,
though sometimes carbonated soda is substituted for the lemonade.  
In the UK there is a version called a Lager Top is popular.  It's 80%
beer and 20% carbonated lemonade.

A few of my favorites are
lager and lime in which you add a dash of
lime juice or lime cordial to a light lager;  Snakebite in which you mix  a
heavier beer, like stout, half and half with cider; and B
lack Velvet, in
which you mix stout and champagne, half and half.

My final recommendation however is to only give these a try if your
pub is serving the same beers again and again.  With all the varieties of
craft beer available at some bars that feature (and turnover quickly)
more than 20 taps you might just never find the time for a beer
cocktail.  Still, it's fun to experiment and see how beer can make just
about anything better!

I encourage everyone to keep sending me articles for this column. You
don't have to be a professional beer writer to see you name in print
and have thousands read your views on beer.  All you have to do is
sent it to me and if it's good enough it will appear here as so many
others have done.  

Look forward to hearing from you.  Take care and cheers!

                                         
Bob

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