by Chris J. James

Perhaps the most fastest growing drink this summer season is "beertails" - combining beer and
liquor.  They're showing up on menus at the trendiest pubs and justifiably so.  The carbonation
in these beverages gives them a light feel that makes them well-suited for hot weather.
Perhaps the most  important question you should ask yourself in making a "beertail" is what
flavors do you really want and are you leaning toward harmony or contrast between drink.

Harmony, for example, can be seen with Belgian-style beers,with their typical grassy green
flavors,paired with gin.  Contrast is found mixing strong dark beers such as a “roasty, bitter
Imperial stout gives a nice contrast to a sweet drink like Kahlua,  It tames the sweetness, adds
carbonation and lightens up the rich, thick alcohol of the Kahula.  

In general, you should try to make sure that the beer and spirits balance well. Intensity really
matters—you don’t want one element to overpower the other.

A full-bodied barley wine (an English-style strong ale), for example, is very rich, thick-bodied
and syrupy—it pairs better with bigger, darker spirits,.. Conversely, something highly
carbonated, refreshing and really zippy like a pilsner or a Belgian farmhouse ale is going to go
better with lighter spirits.

Beers with a lot of hops can be tricky, as the bitterness of it can vary so greatly, Such brews
often work well with spirits that have a stronger flavor profile. You might  try pairing a grassy
herbal IPA with a coconut vodka.  What you'll get is a whole other element—it can taste like a
citrus coconut cake. Really.

Because of the carbonation in beer, it sometimes works well in cocktails featuring bubbly
drinks.  Try using beer instead of champagne or prosecco in mimosas, for example. It’s not
overly boozy—it’s really refreshing.  Another nice match is a Belgian-style white ale with fruit
infused vodkas. White ales often use orange peel along with a little bit of coriander and spicy
flavors that make a mimosa like drink just a little more complex than usual.

Now before you dismiss this entire concept please note that there's actually a long history of
combining beer with other stuff, often to mask the flavor of bad beer. You may have made a
primitive version of a beer cocktail when you crammed those little limes into the neck of your
Corona. There's also the Shandy (beer and ginger ale or lemonade), popular in England, and
the Michelada (beer and tomato juice), popular with our southern neighbors (and with those
nursing a hangover the morning after). These variants have been around for years, but it's
only recently that mixologists have fully embraced the idea of mixing beer into full-fledged
cocktails, along with liquor.

Here are a couple of my favorites but remember it's more fun just to experiment or put yourself
in the hands of a great bartender.
 Islander-  combine 1 ounce good rum with any pre-
Prohibition lager (like Brooklyn Lager).  If you want to get fancy add a touch of lime juce and
almond syrup.  
Nutty Kentuckian -  two parts nut brown ale to one part Kentucky bourbon.  
Shake and drink over ice.  And for the hot days of August  try a pitcher of the
One O'Clock
- combine 12 oz. bourbon, 36 oz. light beer, and 12 oz. frozen lemonade and stir.

Having said all of that I feel obligated to admit that to me nothing beats a good beer by itself.  
However there are times when something different is called for.  When that mood hits then by  
all means try a "beertail".  They won't replace a quality brew but they have still deserve a seat
at the family table. - SPECIAL REPORT
Guide for mixing beer and booze