The discovery began when my friend poured me a Hansa Pilsener - a beer I’m not particularly fond of. I was a bit confused at this offering, but it soon became clear what he intended to demonstrate. He mixed the Hansa with a stout, just a bit a first, then coaxed me into taking a sip.
Whilst the “Kiss of the Saaz hop” was still quite prominent, there was a hint of coffee flavour from the stout coming through. It wasn’t a great combination to be honest, and I began to worry I’d have to politely drink this whole experiment. Then he added another glug of stout and again handed me the glass. Not too bad actually. Another glug, and this time the mix was just right. All my favourite flavours of the stout were coming through, but mixed with the lager it was lighter and the caramel flavour enhanced, a completely new beer. My interest was piqued.
Before then, it hadn’t occurred to me one could make a ‘cocktail’ of sorts from beer. For me, that idea had always been reserved for spirits. A rookie mistake I was told.
Beer blending, or ‘coupling’ as it is sometimes known, isn’t anything new. Pubs in the UK and beer drinkers in the know have been doing this for years, and there’s an art to getting it right. The trick is to balance the attributes of one beer with the characteristics of another, blending two beers with different properties – taste, viscosity, sweetness and bitterness.
One of the most popular examples is the “Black and Tan”, a blend of pale ale and stout. This concoction dates back to 1889. Then there’s the “Black Velvet”, a mix of stout and champagne! As a lover of both I’m undecided if that would be a gross waste of two finely crafted beverages or possibly the best refreshment on earth.
Of course no article about beer mixing would be complete without the inclusion of an old South African summer favourite, the Beer Shandy. Lemonade and beer – who would’ve thought that would catch on!
Taking it one step further - and I must warn purists to stop reading now - beer cocktails can also include the mixing of spirits with your favourite tipple. Some might say beer is better on its own, whilst others might argue everything tastes better with beer. Whatever your stance, I’ve listed a few cocktails below for the adventurous few, and in my opinion (because I’ve realised I’m a purist), the insane.
Four bottles cold light-flavoured beer
1 cup tequila
One 30ml frozen lime concentrate
Lime wedges and salt, for rimming glasses
Bee Sting: Dark beer and orange juice
Caribbean Night: Beer with a splash of coffee liqueur
Michelada (a mix from Mexico)
1 x Mexican Beer, non-dark, (e.g Corona)
*2 dashes of Jugo Sazonador (Maggi) – I think this is a type of Soy Sauce?
*2 dashes of premium Worcestershire sauce
*2 dashes Tabasco brand hot sauce (add more if you like it spicy)
*juice from 2 limes
The Beershake: Kind of like a coke float, but with beer. Try different flavoured ice-creams to find your preferred taste.
Snake Bite: Half beer, half cider