Friday, May 1, 2009

The Session #27: As if one beer wasn't enough goodness...

Today is the first Friday of May, so it's time for The Session, beer blogging on a common topic. The hosts this month are Joe & Jasmine, at Beer at Joe's, and the topic is beer cocktails. Here's what they had to say about it: "What’s your favorite beer cocktail (and yes, despite the title of this post, it can be a black & tan* or a shandy)? Find a recipe for that or a new one, try it, and tell us why you did or didn’t like it–even if you think beer cocktails are nothing but a good way to waste a beer. Have fun and try something new!"

I've been drinking beer 'cocktails' for years, not long after I started drinking beer, actually. My first was a Berliner Weisse with a schuss of raspberry syrup, stirred with ice in a goblet, and it was wonderful: refreshing, not too sweet, cold, and very different from what I was used to back in 1983.

The next was a long line of black & tans* (also called half-n-halfs, checkerboards, mother-in-laws, and other...less printable names) at brewpubs, starting at the first brewpub I ever entered, the Front Street Pub, in Santa Cruz (sadly closed, but a seminal place for me: it was where I first had squid, shark, and oyster shooters, and where I first wrote about beer). I loved the mix of hoppy amber and dry/roasty stout or porter, and drank it often. The first time I saw the layered-look black and tans, with the nitro-stout floating on top of (usually) boring lager, I was amused, and disinterested. Then I got a layered black and tan in a yard of ale at Cambridge Brewing back in the early 1990s, and I changed my mind: layers good!

Since then I've mixed a lot of beers. We were mad for it in the mid-1990s, then slacked off a bit -- just bored, I think -- and now it's popping again, an echo of the cocktail craze, maybe. I suspect that's why, earlier this year, I was commissioned to write a piece on beer cocktails for a cooking magazine. We went through a number of recipes, and they finally settled on three: a beer with non-alcoholic mixers, beer with beer, and beer with spirits.

There were a couple of leftovers, recipes that they didn't particularly care for. Naturally enough, I thought they were pretty damned good, and I don't want them to go to waste...and the chances of selling another beer cocktail piece seem slim. Here they are. I enjoyed them, hope you do too. (And yes, Stephen, I even mixed liquor with my beer!)

Dry Season – Saison is a spicy, ‘farmhouse’ style of ale from Belgium that I thought might lend itself to the spicy botanicals of gin. I mixed a dry London gin with plenty of juniper (you can spend more, but Gordon’s is crisp and full of flavor) into a glass of saison (I had a bottle of Victory Saison, so I used that), and the result was a somewhat lighter, turbo-charged saison. Take 8 oz. chilled saison and 1 oz. dry London gin. Fill a red wine glass with ice and cold water to chill. Dump the ice and water, add the gin and swirl to coat the glass. Add the saison, pouring to splash. Inhale and enjoy.

Doppel Espresso – Doppelbocks are damned good stuff, and they're a beer wine drinkers can really understand: they aren’t bitter, they’re strong, and they can be either dry, or sweet like a dessert wine. But they also have a nice chocolatey character to them that can get overlooked. I thought some coffee might bring that chocolate out, and it does. A great after-dinner beer cocktail: coffee and dessert in one glass. Take 2 parts chilled doublebock (Spaten Optimator is good; I used the Pennsylvania-brewed Troegenator) and 1 part coffee beer (I used Flying Fish Imperial Espresso Porter; there are a variety of coffee beers available on the U.S. market; check your local brewpubs, too). Blend in one glass by pouring together. Simplicity and deliciousness.



*Before the inevitable "Black and Tan is offensive to the Irish!" comments come rolling in (and I won't allow them to post, so don't waste your time and mine)... The Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, the British paramilitary group that quickly gained a reputation for brutality in the early 1920s in Ireland, became known as the "Black & Tans" because of their uniform colors, true enough. But "black and tan" as the name for a mix of a dark and lighter beer actually pre-dates that, going back into the 1800s. So stop being all Irish-American (like my wife and I are (descended out of Counties Wicklow and Antrim, respectively)) and in my face with it, and relax, and enjoy this delicious mixture for what it is: beer.

26 comments:

JB said...

I flip for flips.

Also liked yuengling half and halfs chesterfield and porter from the shipwreck pub in reading circa 1985...

Gary Gillman said...

Excellent recipes, Lew, glad we can benefit from there here. I find gin, both English and Dutch, goes well with beer if not too intense in flavor. Just last night I accompanied a Rickard's Red with a combo of half rye vodka, half a personal blend of Dutch genevers. I wanted a nuanced, quiet set of tastes at 10:00 p.m. and it worked well.

The old Dog's Nose was an English combo of porter and gin, sometimes drunk warm. If both drinks are right for the occasion it can work very well.

Gary

Rich said...

Chocolate Strawberry, served at Lancaster brewing company, a mix of Strawberry Wheat and Milk Stout. Very good and they usually serve it with a chocolate covered strawberry and drizzle some chocolate on the top. Good for dessert.

Lew Bryson said...

Tell me more about the flips, JB; I've seen more than one definition.

Gary, I've heard about the Dog's Nose, but never tried one. Does it work better with genever or gin?

Rich, that is one of my favorite beer mixes, and I'd have used it in the magazine, but it's a national mag and there just aren't that many strawberry beers!

Gary Gillman said...

Lew, I would think originally the Dog's Nose, which dates to the 1700's, used a gin closer to the Dutch style than what London Dry is today. (I think London Dry only evolved later, in the 1800's).

The grainy, unique taste of a good Dutch-style gin would IMO go better with porter or stout than London Dry gin which often has those high brassy juniper notes.

However, an American or English gin which is not too assertive might be good too, in a different way. Say, that yellowish Seagram Gin - I always like it and it is I think a kind of distant survival of the early gins!

Gary

Anonymous said...

I've had a few "dirty ho's" recently... 1/2 Lindeman's framboise, 1/2 Hooegarden.

Anonymous said...

David Bromberg recorded a song called "Black and Tan". In the liner notes he states that "A black and tan is a hunting dog. This song is not about hunting dogs." Sample lyric: "I've never loved but three women in this land/that's my mother and my sister and the girl that taught me how to do the black and tan". Hmmm...makes my want to go to the House of Pizza in Millersville, which has both Yuengling Porter and Chesty on tap....

Glenn said...

Not officially a mixed beer drink, but I did something based on a homebrew recipe that comes close. There was a recipe that a well established homebrewer was known for called Vanilla Bourbon Porter. It was made as a robust porter(with 2 pods of real vanilla added), where post fermentation you added a small bottle (375ml) of nice bourbon to the batch. I made a batch and it was wonderful..
So if you aren't a homebrewer I'd suggest something along the lines of mixing a small amount of bourbon in a nice big porter (or maybe imperial stout?) as something to try..

Cathy said...

Actually my family is from County Wicklow

JB said...

Oh man I have to include a dog's nose. I take a stegmaier porter and a shot of bluecoat or beefeater and just pour it in, nutmeg optional. I love both parts but was really floored by the sum. I am surprised this is not more popular.

There are many ways to build a flip but essentially you take a liquor like rum, some beer (strong, old style seems to work well), an egg and torch it with a hot poker to carmelize it. Works wonderfully. Actually have made it at home and had it in Manhattan.

Stephen Beaumont said...

But Lew, I thought you were against beer cocktails...
http://www.alestreetonline.com/content/view/58/45/

Lew Bryson said...

Crap! I had Wicklow in there, and looked at it, and thought wait a minute, is it Wexford? Shoulda gone with the first thought. Thanks, hon.

Lew Bryson said...

Come on, Steve, I already linked to the damned thing once!

Besides, every one knows I'm against seasonals, too: http://www.alestreetonline.com/content/view/269/45/

(That's why I came up with a column topic early this issue...)

Stephen Beaumont said...

Sorry, Lew, my bad. I passed right over that link.

Oh, and BTW, I've never come across the "black & tan is offensive to the Irish" thing before. My, you Americans are sensitive...

Lew Bryson said...

Not so much sensitive as overbearing, I swear...

Gary Gillman said...

Lew, I did a little reading in Google Books and found references to both "common geneva", made in England, and "Hollands geneva" in later 1700's writings, so both kinds of gin were in existence then. The Hollands was stated to be imported from (no surprise) Holland and was considered choice, "esteemed" popped up a few times.

I found one reference to a "quartern of gin" being poured into "warm porter" from the 1780's. A dog's nose is cold (they were in the dogs I owned!) so probably a Dog's Nose was the chilled version of the drink. So probably any gin available was used. Bluecoat sounds like a good suggestion for the combo, the nutmeg too. You've got me going on this, I might try later tonight a local craft stout with some gin I blended myself (combo of Beefeater, Beefeater Orange, Finsbury, Gordon's, Plymouth Gin).

Gary

Kevin said...

I have been trying to talk many a local brewer into making a Saison with the ingredients of Bombay Sapphire. Never thought about just pouring some into a saison.

Russ said...

My first beer cocktail was likewise a Berliner Weisse mit Schuß (Rot) and I too enjoyed it. I've also had a Berliner Weisse with orange juice... a nice malt alternative to a mimosa. However, by far the best beer cocktail I've ever had was at the Ohne Bedenken pub in Leipzig. At the mecca of Leipziger Gose they offer many Gose cocktails. My wife got one mixed with banana liqueur and it was amazing, and I'm not even a big fan of banana-flavored stuff in general. Döllnitzer Rittergutsgose is one of my Top Five beers, so the fact that I would advocate mixing anything in it tells you something about how good the resulting concoction was. It's just too bad that you have to travel to Leipzig (or, alternatively, the South Side of Chicago once I perfect the recipe) to try it.

Anonymous said...

My wife has recently become a big fan of these two: the first is any good German hefe with a few onces of Kasteel rouge in the bottom of the glass, the other is a mix of the Youngs double chocolate with Kasteel.

sam said...

A Bluecoat gin & tonic with a splash of Steg 150 (now Stegmaier Amber)is a personal fave.

As regards the cahtter about Dutch genever, see Dave Wondrich's column in the latest Malt Advocate for an interesting perspective and recipe.

Lew Bryson said...

Indeed, Sam, I was thinking about M. Wondrich's column while drinking my 8 year old Filliers genever over the weekend. Very whiskey-like.

sam k said...

Gotta get me some, I guess!

jp said...

I make this chocolate milkshake that is kind of like a beer cocktail: 2 scoops Vanilla ice cream, a little whole or skim milk and half a bottle Stegmaier Porter ( you can drink the other half outright or serve it as a split on the side). Although there is no coco or chcocolate, you would never know it. I am sure you could use other porters, but so far Steg works the best. Variants include adding a half a shot of esspresso or a tablespoon of carnation malted milk powder.

sam k said...

Here we go again. Just looked at the PLCB search engine. No reference anywhere to genever. Checked both gin and imported specialties to no avail. Can we get it here?

Bracing for the answer...

Lew Bryson said...

No, but to be fair, you can barely get genever anywhere in the U.S.; the only one currently imported -- to the best of my knowledge -- is Bols, which is a 'young' genever, more like a heavy gin. They just started bringing it in late last year. But I would not be surprised at all if a lot more genevers started coming to the U.S., and soon. Maybe even to the PLCB -- though I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

I was a kid about 25 years old and Living in Deep River Conn. Where one of the largest Fife and Drummer Corps Musters is heald and I meet a Fifer from the Ancient Mariners at the Deep River Inn and he introduced me to what he said was the Ancient Order of the Dogs Nose. Quite posibly a take off to the oridginale Dogs Nose. It was a chilled glass filled with a good Ale width a shot of good Gin. It was a good smooth drink but had a depth charge hooked to it.