Behold: The Craft Beer Cocktail
Gaze upon it in all its glory
by Rob Mangelsdorf
Beer is delicious. We know that.
But beer cocktails? Until recently, they’ve been pretty uninspiring, to be honest.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from simple Boilermakers and Micheladas — in the past 20 years, craft beer has earned itself more street cred as a legit ingredient to be used in well-crafted cocktails. With enough creativity and an experienced palate, today’s bartenders can craft a delicious beer cocktail using the bounty of craft beer and spirit options available to them.
“Beer cocktails were historically largely overlooked or used as a way to sell off-flavour beer that had been stored or served using questionable methods and equipment,” says award-winning bartender Brian Chapman. He also happens to be a Certified Cicerone, so Chapman knows a thing or two about cocktails and beer.
“With beer’s massive spectrum of flavours and varying levels of sweetness, bitterness, acidity, carbonation and alcoholic strength, it can play a supportive role or take centre stage when building cocktails,” Chapman elaborates. “Sweeter, malt-forward beers might step in for syrups and liqueurs, whereas bitter beers such as IPAs might be substituted for an amaro. Sour beers might take the place of citrus juices, and refreshing simpler beers, like lagers, might act as lengtheners instead of soda.”
“You can even create custom ingredients like bitters from hops, syrups from beer reductions, or even shrubs (acidified syrups) from sour beer.”
Chapman says when crafting a beer cocktail you should always keep in mind one of the most important aspects of a good beer or cocktail: balance.
“Boozy, sweet, bitter and acidic are the four fundamental flavours to create balance,” Chapman says.
Take, for instance, Chapman’s own creation, the Mexican Entomologist. This refreshing and citrusy beer cocktail features Land & Sea Brewing’s CoMexico kveik hazy pale ale, along with tequila, St-Germain, lime juice and Aperol, which, until recently, was naturally coloured using carmine, a pigment made from crushed cactus-dwelling insects.
Try it for yourself, and discover just how delicious a beer cocktail can be.
45 mL blanco tequila
22.5 mL Aperol
15 mL St-Germain
30 mL fresh lime juice
60 mL Land & Sea CoMexico kveik hazy pale ale
Shake the tequila, Aperol, St.-Germain and lime juice with ice, then fine strain into a 10-ounce glass with ice and top with beer. Garnish with a slice of lime.