Beer Cocktails: Awesome or boresome?

Beer cocktails have got a bad reputation. A quick Google search will bring up pages of websites with all manner of monstrosities that either ruin a perfectly good beer (such as the Porteree - Porter with unnecessary added sugar and nutmeg) to recipes so Frat Boy simple they hardly qualify as 'cocktails' at all (Carribbean Boilermaker).

But a good beer cocktail is genuinely something to behold. I'm not talking Coors light with a shot of Vodka, I'm talking a carefully crafted drink with spirits and juices that complement the flavour profiles of the beer, or using a tasty beer to further enhance a winning cocktail with flavour that soda just can't deliver.

Ironically, the best beer cocktails I've ever had were from a bar that no longer serves them! I'm talking about PIN in Leeds; a bar with a bit of an identity crisis, much like Beer cocktails themselves. They had a range of beer cocktails using great ingredients and well chosen spirits blended into new and interesting cocktails topped up with a splash of beer. They had loads on the menu but the ones I remember are a cherry beer cocktail made with Kriek, cherry and fruit licquers; a blackberry and raspberry cocktail using Leeds Best; a coffee and chocolate one with Midnight Bell (a dark mild); and my personal favourite, a beer cocktail made with apple and pear based spirits, ice and real fruit, topped up with Leeds Pale. The spirits brought out the lovely English fruit characters of the beer but it also tasted like an entirely new drink of it's own, with a sum much greater than it's parts - the mark of any great cocktail. (To see info about Leeds Brewery beer click here - but as I said, PIN no longer sells the cocktails)

So it was with these successful beer cocktails in mind that I set about producing a mental recipe of my own using Passionfruit - which I'd picked up at the weekend and that were now perfectly wrinkly and ripe. I decided on a rum based Daiquri style cocktail using passionfruit, lime juice and ice, topped up with a can of Punk IPA in the hope that the cocktails ingredients would pair up with the fruit tropical fruit hoppyness of the beer. The rum was also carefully chosen. I wanted something that wouldn't overpower the cocktail, but that had enough character of it's own to shine through the beer and fruit mix.

I'm a huge fan of rum so had plenty to choose from for this recipe and knew that the Green Island Spiced Gold Rum from Mauritius, would fit the bill perfectly. It's a really unique and interesting rum with a very complicated distilling process. To make it they firstly start with Green Island Superior Light Rum, which is a blend of 3 and 5 year oak aged rums. During the ageing process the rum takes on a golden colour from the oak casks, but then the aged rum undergoes a charcoal filtration where the golden colour is removed without affecting its taste profile. To make the Spiced Gold they then add natural (and secret) herbs and spices to the clear rum which gives it its light golden colour. It's a soft, lightly spiced rum with flavours of clove, cinnamon, ginger, and hints of vanilla, yet still hugely complex as the various maturation stages add their own unique character as well. It's a rum that I love to drink simply with ice, or in the best Cuba Libre you'll ever taste.

The Passionfruit Punk Daiquri

In a cocktail shaker combine:

- Double shot of Green Island Spiced Gold Rum (or equivalent)
- Juice of half a lime (cut into two wedges and thrown in once squeezed)
- Scooped out centres of two very ripe passionfruits (discard the outer shells)
- 1 teaspoon of light brown sugar
- A handfull of ice

Shake vigorously for a minute or so to breakdown the passionfruit and seperate the juice, then fine strain into a half pint tulip glass two thirds filled with ice, and top up with Brewdog Punk IPA or other fruity IPA such as Thornbridge Jaipur.

Enjoy!

Tasting Notes
It's quite a sour cocktail (in a good way), yet very aromatic from the ripe passionfruit which comes through more in the smell than taste - I think the lime is a bit strong and seems to dominate the flavour, might try it with a quarter lime next time.

That said, I think I'll chalk this up as a success, I'm a positive kinda guy, and I did enjoy this beer cocktail. With a few tweeks I think it be could superb.

Let me know if you've tried any beer cocktails (good or bad) in the comments box below

8 comments:

  1. I can't make anything that fancy when it comes to beer cocktails. Me and another bar man I used to work with used to love messing about trying half of this with half of that. I do like to add a few drops of a really good single malt to a nice dark porter or stout every now and again.... does that count? :)

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  2. Seen as it's you mate I'll allow it!

    I think the key is just to think about the ingredients carefully, like you have done. A nice Whiskey/Whisky in a dark smokey beer sounds great to me.

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  3. Interesting. I think it'll probably take once awesome beer cocktail to just completely change my mind, until then I just can't get excited about them.

    BeerBirraBier.

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  4. NIce post! The only beer cocktail I've had is a beermosa made with a fruity wheat beer (I think it had some guava in it, or something) and orange juice. It was delicious as a hangover beer!

    I'd love to try some other beer cocktails to see what they are like... I'll have to get experimenting!

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  5. Never done one - and not likely to - but might swing by PIN to try one done by the pro's...!

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  6. Mark - They are a weird concept but done right can be great. The Leeds Pale cocktail above was the turning point for me.

    Mark D - Love the idea of a fruity wheat beer with orange juice as a hangover cure. My go to drink is usually a spicy Bloody Mary.

    Leigh - Think again, despite them being awesome they stopped doing beer cocktails at PIN!

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  7. I'd like to try a beery Bloody Mary, perhaps with a Belgian Tripel? Could be tasty!

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  8. The event gave jaded beer geeks an opportunity to try many beers never-before-seen and produced specifically with this weekend festival in mind.

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