As soon as summer hits, consumption of the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage spikes. Naturally, beer sales peak from May through August—the warmest months of the year. Stouts, pale ales, lambics, hefeweizens, and—of course—IPAs, we love ‘em all.
But as the dog days of summer approach, our taste buds start to look for other refreshers. Enter beer cocktails.
While trend-spotters have hyped beer cocktails as a hot new phenomenon, the truth is that beer cocktails have been around for a long time.
There are blue collar standbys like the Boilermaker: a shot of whiskey or bourbon slopped into a glass of pilsner. And in Mexico, we like the Michelada: light lager, tomato juice or Clamato, lime juice, and a dash of hot sauce. There’s even beer mixed with beer, like the Black and Tan.
Perhaps it’s the American craft beer renaissance that’s spinning off all manner of creativity, but beer cocktails have become an essential ingredient on the menus at many swank bars across the country.
Here are a few of the more interesting recipes we’ve encountered. Some dilute the suds with flavorful nonalcoholic ingredients, allowing us to down a few before dinner without getting loopy. Others prop up the beer’s alcohol level with stiffer spirits. All offer a great change of pace from the usual brew.
- 1½ oz Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
- 3 oz ginger beer
- 3 oz light lager
- 1 dash angostura bitters (optional)
Directions: Stir with ice, garnish with a slice of lemon.
A variation on the classic Michelada offering some serious spice, this punch to the taste buds was created by the folks at Bon Appétit magazine.
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt
- Mexican lager (such as Pacifico)
- Lime wheel
Directions: Combine lime juice, Sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce in a salt-rimmed pint glass filled with ice. Top off with lager. Garnish with lime wheel.
A twist on the classic Negroni from Dan Rook, head bartender at Chicago’s South Water Kitchen.
- Equal parts Beefeater Gin, Carpono Antica Sweet Vermouth, and Campari
- Brewery Vivant’s Farmhand Saison (to fill)
Directions: Serve in a teardrop pint glass.
End of Days
Chris Elford at Richmond, Virginia, restaurant Saison created this intriguing recipe.
- ¾ oz Campari
- ¾ oz Blanco Tequila
- ¾ oz Fresh Lime Juice
- ½ oz Demerara Simple Syrup
- 1 oz hop-forward IPA
Directions: Combine all ingredients except for IPA in a shaker tin and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Double strain into a single old-fashioned glass with one large rock and top with the IPA. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Kristianna Cross, a bartender at Chicago gastropub SideDoor, shared the recipe for this rum-based cocktail made with a Belgian-style Tripel.
- 1 oz Kirk & Sweeny Dark 12-year Rum
- ½ oz yellow chartreuse
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1½ oz pomegranate juice
- Goose Island’s “The Ogden”
Directions: Combine the first four ingredients and pour over ice in a tall glass with a salt and pepper rim. Top with the beer.
Sapporo Cha (Tea)
Here’s a summery cocktail suggestion from the folks at Japanese brewery Sapporo.
- 10 oz Sapporo Premium Draft
- 4 oz green tea, chilled
- 1 oz citrus vodka
Directions: Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice. Gently stir to mix and pour over ice in a pint glass.
American craft brew icon Dogfish Head says this cocktail has been a big hit at its brewpub.
- 1¼ cups Dogfish Head Positive Contact
- 1¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups Dogfish Head Namaste
- ¾ cup chilled club soda
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stir, and serve in highball glasses garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 8.
Twisted Fruitbeer Float
Jon Richards, Cicerone Certified Beer Server at The Greenville Growler Station in Greenville, South Carolina, created this delicious Southern-style treat.
- Abita Lemon Wheat
- 1 or 2 scoops lime sherbet
Directions: Add the sherbet to the beer and garnish with slice of lemon, slice of lime. Star by coating the rim of your beer glass in sugar.
Root Beer Float
While we’re on the subject of desserts, Newport Bar and Grill in Chicago came up with this adult variation on the typical root beer float, using an ale brewed with spices.
- Small Town Brewery's Not Your Father’s Root Beer
- Scoop of vanilla ice cream
Directions: Straw optional, right? We think chocolate porter drizzled over vanilla ice cream beats Hershey’s syrup, too.
Hero image: Flickr user "dinnerseries" (CC BY 2.0)