Can I Get You A Beer Cocktail?

Yes, you read that correctly—a beer cocktail.

What exactly does that mean? Well, beer can be paired with liquors or even other beers to create a refreshing and fun drink. With new craft beers coming out weekly, there are many opportunities to mix and match drinks.

“Beer has become similar to wine,” says Russell Zimmerman, beverage manager for 40 North. “You can have a Pinot Grigio from California taste totally different from one from Italy. Beer is the same way; India Pale Ales from the East Coast are a lot different from the West Coast versions. It has to do with different hops and the amount of hops that are used.”

So what do you mix beer with? “I usually work off the tasting notes of the beers, then find spirits that will pair nicely,” says Zimmerman. “With India Pale Ales, your typical flavor profile is bitter, hoppy, citrus and sometimes pine. Right off the bat, gin comes to mind. It’s a nice match for the bitterness and hops. Next, you’ll notice the citrus, so I can go in a few directions—I can add pineapple, lemon or lime juice. And last but not least, I might add a simple syrup to balance the cocktail.”

Creating a beer cocktail isn’t easy, so the results can be mixed. “It’s one thing to take liquor and make a cocktail out of it, but with a beer cocktail, you have to pair alcohol with alcohol,” says Zimmerman.

“Many people try to sweeten drinks or weigh them down with a nonalcoholic mixer to hide the natural flavor of beer. But I want the guest to appreciate the alcohol he or she is drinking. By using a little fresh squeezed juice, bitters, simple syrups and cordials to create my cocktails, I try to pay homage to the drink. To me, making drinks that hide the taste of the beer is like ordering a steak well done. You’re taking all of the natural flavor out of it.”

Zimmerman likes making prohibition-style cocktails, which are usually gin-, bourbon- and rye-based. He also enjoys experimenting with different aromatics and bitters. Here’s a simple recipe you can try on your own:

Choc Full of Stout

  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

  • Patron XO coffee liqueur

  • 12-year scotch

  • Crème de cocoa (dark)

Who doesn’t love chocolate and coffee? These ingredients make a delectable drink after a meal.