Traditionally, beer and cocktails have been very separate entities. You might order a martini, or a good stout, but would you have ever considered ordering a stoutini? Well, apparently, modern drinkers are broadening their palates by a considerable bit – beer is now one of the most popular bases for cocktails. What's this all about?
First, this trend has no resemblance to the famed boilermaker – there's more to it than that. Mixologists (those masters of the art of cocktail crafting) are always on the lookout for new additions to their recipes, and it seems that the wide range of different beers out there can serve quite well. Several mixologists note that the different flavors and notes in beer can be very good counterpoints to some liquors, and work very well in cocktails.
Don't mistake this for an American-born trend, either. You'll find the roots of beertails in France, where beer cocktails have been popular for several years. They're apparently very common. Most cocktails also fall into one of three different categories.
You'll find beer cocktails that do nothing more than combine beer with fruit juice, which isn't all that new. Beer and juice can certainly complement each other, depending on the brew in question and the flavors in the juice. The second category is blending beers – it's not really a cocktail so much as a beer suicide (a beer-i-cide?) that combines two different, but complimentary beers. Anyone who has ever tried a Black and Tan has had this particular experience.
The most startling category is the one that combines beer with liquors. You'll find that different beers mix better with different liquors. For example, it seems that an IPA can be paired quite well with some rums, while gin might go well with a blond ale. One of the most interesting combinations to make news here lately is the brewer's bramble. This combines Berliner Weisse with gin and blackberry liqueur. While that might not sound appealing to everyone, it's nice to see innovation in the industry.
The blending and blurring of the lines between beer and cocktails is actually a good thing. It opens the doors to new worlds of enjoyment, and might just bring some newly converted beer lovers into the fold who might have never sampled a particular beer until it was introduced to them through one of these beer cocktail combinations.
Normally Beer Army would never condone such actions but if it is a gateway to bringing new craft beer drinkers into the fold, then is that such a bad thing?