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The Session #27: Beer Cocktails
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The Session #27: Beer Cocktails

By Joe Ruvel · May 1st, 2009 · 10 Comments

It is that time again – the first Friday in May (it is May already?) and so of course that means it is time for The Session, the beer blogging web toast that it is. This month, Jasmine and I are happy to host it. We invited people to try a beer cocktail.

Leave a comment to this post with a link to your post or email me and you will be added to the roundup – which should be up sometime on Saturday. And don’t worry if you’re late  – we can always add you in. Be creative and have some fun.

For a long time the idea of a beer cocktail was foreign to me. I enjoyed a black and tan and even a snakebite, but that was about it. Then as I got more into food and in turn beer, wine, and cocktails – I saw people playing (and I use that term to encompass all the kid in a candy store feelings it evokes) with these raw ingredients – creating new and exciting things for people to try. The whole craft beer movement has a lot of that in it. People are trying things every day that a few years ago seemed insane or impossible. Cocktails are no exception. Chefs are working with bartenders to create drink menus that use a bunch of fresh ingredients. Recipes are being created all the time. Overall the drinks are getting better and better.  And not surprisingly more frequently beer, with all its varying flavors, styles, textures, and carbonation, is being used in these drinks.

While I was interested in the trend, the few beer cocktails I tried were missing something. I think for me it was that the beer was often being covered up. Then about a year ago I was in Boston at a bar called Eastern Standard–big bar with great food and a huge drink menu. Looking over all their beers and cocktails, I saw a whole section dedicated to cocktails made with beer. Wow! Of course I had to try one. So with my fried salt cod fritters I had a Czechvar with a shot of Fernet-Branca poured in. Simple, but would it taste good? It was great – the licorice in the Fernet really brought out flavors in the beer that I had never known were there. It was a beer drink – and was something completely new – to me.

So for this session, we wanted to explore a few beer cocktails.  To start, we made one of our own. In a fit of inspiration (and using whatever was in the fridge), we created what we call a “gipa”:

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Now the pros–we traveled down to Haight-Ashbury to The Alembic Bar and tried the two beer cocktails on their menu. First up, Bartender Mike makes us a Vice Grip:

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Talk about an explosion of the senses. Sweet wine, strong coffee liquor, and silky smooth porter foam (I love that he used Moonlight – Death and Taxes). And yes it was just foam but it was there in every sip and really added to what would have been an okay, but incomplete drink.

After that we asked for other ideas and Mike pointed us to The Perfect Storm, a cocktail that is only listed on their daytime menu. He was kind enough to whip one up for us. It comes in a teacup and it does feel like you could drink this instead of afternoon tea. It’s crisp and refreshing and loaded with alcohol–Goslings Black Seal rum, tawny port and “a bit of ale to settle things”.


So there it is – we tried some great beer cocktails and made some ourselves. Next time someone tells me they only drink cocktails, I will make one of these for them (and maybe not even tell them) and see what they think.

Check back soon  – we had a few more beer cocktail experiments at home and Tim Zohn from Cocktail Lab is going to show us (and all of you) some of his beer concoctions – both will be posted soon.

Tags: The Sessions

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