For me the word summer conjures up many images… the beach, swimming, sprinklers, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of kids racing up and down the street on their scooters, bikes and skate boards, the smell of suntan lotion, the crack of a bat as it hits the ball, the sound of someone pouring a beer…
Now I must admit, I am not much of a beer drinker. I blame my parents who preferred more “spirited” alcoholic beverages. However, even my non-beer-drinking parents would enjoy the cold refreshing taste of a beer on a hot sunny day.
For me drinking beer goes hand in hand with wings at a pub after a great game of ball with friends…fond memories of Rowers Pub & Grill (on Harbord St.) and the Duke of York Pub (on Prince Arthur Ave.) in Toronto with the U of T Alumni ball team enjoying laughs, wings and of course a pitcher of beer… wafting thru my mind…
For others, beer is their preferred libation regardless of the weather or company, but what about those who want to like beer but find their eyes still wandering to the cocktail menu when it comes time to order? Well move over martinis, there is a growing trend in cocktails…beer cocktails!
Yes you read that correctly. Concoctions of dark beer and rum have been around for hundreds of years and the Shandy and the Black and Tan have been staples in pubs in the UK for decades. While beer-based concoctions have been around a long time, but they are quickly becoming popular in pubs and bars on this side of the Atlantic.
While some enthusiasts such as beer aficionados, whiskey experts or oenophiles might prefer to not mix their beloved tonics with other elixirs, I say throw caution and prejudice to the wind. Cocktail purists will even argue that “proper” cocktails must contain spirits but somehow I don’t think the beer world cares about that. So what’s holding you back? Well perhaps before you go out and start shagging fly balls we should get more familiar with the team.
All beer falls into one of two categories – Ale or Lager. A beer can be clearly distinguished as ale or lager based on the yeast used to ferment them.
Ales use yeast which flocculate or ferment at the top of the tank and at higher temperatures than the bottom fermenting yeasts used in lagers. Ales are also aged for relatively little time compared to lagers, only a few weeks actually. Lagers, on the other hand, are typically aged for months.
So what does this mean? The fermenting and brewing/aging processes create very different products. Ale and lager are both beer but are as different as the National League and the American League…
Ales are complex, flavorful beers which have rich aroma and are typically served close to room temperature. Lagers are cleaner, clearer beers than ales. They have a light aroma and flavour and are served chilled.
Popular Players on the Ale Team:
Barley Wine; Bitter; Pale Ale; Porter; Stout; Wheat beer
Popular Players on the Lager Team:
Bock; Dunkel; Oktoberfest; Pilsner
So know that we know the teams a bit better let’s hit the field…
Here are a few classic recipes for beer cocktails for you to try…Batter up
Boilermaker: Basically is this cocktail is beer and a shot of whisky. Take one full glass of beer and consume a few ounces of the beer. Next take a shot glass containing one ounce of whisky and lower the glass into the beer. Drink and be merry. NOTE if using Irish Stout and Irish Whisky this drink is also known as an Irish Car Bomb.
Black & Tan: This is a layered beer cocktail using stout and ale. Start but pouring a half pint of ale in a glass. Next top the glass up with stout, carefully pouring it slowly over the back of a spoon that touches the side of the glass. This pouring technique allows the stout to run down the side and float on top of the ale.
Negro y Marron (Mexican Black and Tan): If you like to spice it up a bit then perhaps this twist on a Black and Tan is for you. Mix 1 or 1.5 parts Clamato, juice from half a lemon or lime, 2 parts Corona, 2 parts Negra Modelo, 1/3 part tequila, season with hot sauce (to taste), coat rim of glass with salt, served on ice
Black Velvet: This cocktail has the best of both worlds, Stout and Champagne! Fill the bottom half of a tall Champagne flute with stout, and then carefully layer Champagne over the stout.
Snakebite: This cocktail is as simple as mixing pale ale or lager with sparkling apple cider. The addition of alcoholic cider maintains the strength of the beverage while adding a fruity bite.
Shandy: If you would like a lighter less alcoholic drink the shandy is your answer. Simply mix equal parts lager and ginger ale or some carbonated lemonade to create this tangy tonic.
Red Eye: Also known as the Calgary Red Eye or the Saskatchewan Red Eye, this Canadian beer cocktail is great if you are looking for some “hair of the dog ”. Simply mix equal parts beer with Clamato juice. South of the 49th parallel this cocktail is known as Bloody Mary Beer and uses tomato juice rather than Clamato juice.
Feeling a bit more adventurous? Just Google “Beer Cocktails” and you’ll find a bevy of new and exciting concoctions to try. As for me I am gaining a new appreciation for beer and am looking forward to experimenting with these new mixtures. I’m going to oil up my glove, lace up my cleats and grab my bat and head out to play with a few friends…and hang out with the boys of summer.
A few Irish Car Bombs may have been consumed in preparation for this post.
Photos by Lyndsay Jenkinson