While they are a somewhat recent phenomenon – other than the old-school boiler maker – craft beer cocktails are gaining popularity in many metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and even Atlanta. They are not overly complicated to create and, other than a few specialty ingredients, you probably already have the basics in your home bar. The idea is to bring something unique to the party that will have your friends raving over your craftiness. Here are a few of my favorite craft beer cocktail recipes.
It’s the beer version of a Prohibition-era cocktail known as the Bee’s Knees. My version contains St. George Botanical Gin, fresh lemon juice, honey and Widmer Hefeweizen.
Featured Beer: Omaha Brewing Company’s Nada Banana Hefeweizen. This hefeweizen-style beer from Omaha is best paired with an earthy cheese such as fontina, and Latin American food like chicken in a red mole sauce.
1 1/2 ounces St. George Botanical Gin
1 ounce freshly pressed lemon juice
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
3 ounces Nada Banana Hefeweizen
1 lemon wedge for garnish
Combine gin, juice and honey syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Collins glass with or without ice. Top with beer and garnish with lemon.
Sometimes a margarita is just what you need on a cold night. The dash of sage melds with the tequila to transform this beach-inspired flip into something more reminiscent of the winter holidays. The fruit and acidic character of the lime and witbier balance the spicy herbal-ness of the sage and tequila. Serve this one cold!
Featured Beer: You can’t go wrong with either White Rabbit from Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen (Macon) or Scattered Sun by Southbound Brewing Company (Savannah).
12 ounces Belgian witbier
1/4 small lime, wedged and squeezed
1/6 teaspoon ground sage
1 ounce tequila
Combine tequila, lime wedge (squeezed), and ground sage in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a margarita glass. Add fresh ice. Top with beer and garnish with lime wedge.
Fall Bounty Flip
The flavors of fall often find their way into holiday dishes and desserts. The cinnamon and other sweet potato pie spices create a very smooth mouth feel, which mellows at the rum. Slice the apple thin to encourage a refreshingly sweet balance to the beer and spices.
Featured Beer: Harvest Moon Sweet Potato Ale from Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen (Macon)
12 ounces sweet potato beer
1/4 medium apple, thinly sliced
1 ounce rum
Ceylon cinnamon and sugar for rim of glass
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, including ice, and gently stir. Rim your pint glass with a mixture of the cinnamon and sugar. Add ice to pint glass and strain in the cocktail. Garnish with apple slice.
– Brian Whitley is the co-owner and head brewer at Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen. He is a craft beer lover and a BJCP-certified judge, which pretty much just makes him a craft beer nerd.