A beer cocktail is a beautiful thing.
What is a beer cocktail, exactly? In the most basic form it’s spiking your beer, or beer-ing your liquor. It’s the marrying of beer and spirit. For beer lovers, a beer cocktail is a great way to have a cocktail, with a little hooch in your brew. For cocktail lovers, you can loosen your britches and drink more than two (no driving, please) . For beer-fearers, you can soften the bitter with a splash of gin, simple, and, well, malts and barley. For cocktail-skeptics, what a wonderful, unpretentious way to dip your toe in the deep end. A beer cocktail is about combining the love and appreciation for both beer and spirit. Peak Spirits and Avery Brewing did just that this Sunday, July 17th at Star Bar at the 1st Annual Beer Cocktail Party.
Ten talented bartenders circled the wagons to showcase their beer cocktail concoction. The rules were as follows: include a CapRock product (gin and vodka were the predominance) as the base spirit and an Avery beer included in the concoction. It was a fantastic showcase of all things beer cocktail. Tenders and tasters alike ranged from novices to experts. Some had never really made beer cocktails before this organized event; some have been rocking beer cocktails since they stepped behind the stick.
The event was packed. We were all sweaty (it was over 95 degrees on Sunday). We were drinking booze that went down like water, cold, refreshing, easily consumable, and certainly high in ABV. Cucumbers, Nilla Wafer, Sour Patch Kids, Pork, and more garnished the rim of these cocktails. An Italian Car Bomb was dropped in a pint of beer and you did NOT have to chug (God bless beer for not curdling). Jeffrey Lebowski would’ve been proud of the White Russian-like beer cocktail, “The Dude Abides.” The juke box was rocking, the crowd was laughing, and strangers became friends within seconds.
It was a party celebrating beer, spirits, and the crowd that appreciated both. I hope the next time you have an opportunity to try a beer cocktail, you take it.
Highlights according to:
Sean Buchan (with Stacey Josif)
The Colorado Beer Cocktail Party was a hell of a lot of fun. The level of talent showcased by these bartenders was crazy, they introduced my palate to things I never thought I’d see together (beer with pork shoulder, sour patch kids, vanilla wafers, etc). My favorite drink of the evening was the ‘All White AveryThing’ by Brian Melton of Off the Cuffs Cocktails. Apparently vanilla wafers, gin, White Rascal, (and a bunch of other stuff) were meant to be together. The most interesting drink of the night was definitely ‘Sacrament of Q’ by Justin Lloyd of Star Bar. Everyone knows beer and barbecue go together, but I’ve never seen anyone pair them so intimately. The dry rub rim was genius… and he even put a piece of pork belly in the drink! Another favorite was ‘The Dude Abides’ by Ryan Cample of Lou’s Food Bar. This was our last beer cocktail of the night and it was a perfect night cap. The aroma of the cocoa mixed with Ellie’s Brown made a drink The Dude would be proud of.
It was an excellent event that resulted in an unpleasant Monday morning, so I certainly had fun. The weather was hot, so I was very refreshed with Ryan Conklins’s cocktail, one of my favorites. I also really enjoyed Matt Lanning’s Italian Car Bomb, because the liquor portion is typically a very bitter drink, but when dropped in the pilsner it took on a whole new characteristic, almost sweet. I seem to be fascinated with that the most, when something gets completely transformed with the addition of beer.
As the winner of the 2011 Aspen Food & Wine beer cocktail event, I knew the All White AveryThing by Brian Melton was going to be delicious. However, I did not expect to feel the need to hand over the rest of my drink tickets to Brian after just one sip! Balancing flavors in a beer cocktail is a particularly precarious task since you’re working with a strong flavor profile from both the beer and the spirit. Despite the range of ingredients (see recipe below), the resulting concoction was refreshing with a delicate sweetness. As you sip, you first taste the rim of crushed Nilla Wafer-like cookies and dried/crumbled vanilla frosting. Then, the liquid part of the libation: the white pepper hazelnut syrup brought out the inherent peppery notes of the CapRock gin while the white tea complemented the floral notes. The citrus of the lemon juice, white grapefruit juice and White Rascal cut the sweetness from the rim and syrup nicely, all lightened up by the effervescence of the beer.
Best “what the f*ck did I just taste!?!??” OR Best Sucker Punch: There were two beer cocktails that took me by surprise – you know when you take a sip, and then do a double-take with a look of consternation pasted on your face? Ryan Caple of Lou’s and Justin Lloyd of Star Bar succeeded in seriously upping the creativity at the event. Ryan’s beer cocktail delivered a punch with no warning in the name, “The Dude Abides,” or ingredients (CapRock Gin, housemade Toddy Coffe, housemade Orgeat (almond syrup), egg white and Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale). Seems harmless, right? The nose starts to give you a hint that your tastebuds are about to get hit with a Yeti-sized smackdown, but with that first sip, you swear you’re drinking a traditional White Russian, not a beer cocktail. There was an amazing smoothness and creaminess from the egg white, making you swear there has to be dairy when there isn’t any. The Toddy coffee and Orgeat enhance the chocolate/brown sugar maltiness and nutty vanilla notes of Ellie’s, creating the traditional White Russian flavor profile. In addition, the CapRock gin is a nice switch from the traditional, mostly flavorless vodka, adding some peppery notes. If you love libations that flip your palate upside down, go see out Ryan and this beer cocktail.
Justin’s Sacrament of Q didn’t catch me quite as off guard as Ryan’s – there was pork belly at his station – but nonetheless, he delivered a crazy delicious palate-confusing libation. The smoky earthiness of the infused CapRock vodka, leveraged against Avery’s Holy Trinity of Ales (the hoppiness of Hog Heaven, slight spiciness of Reverend and lightness of the Salvation foam), created a surprisingly smooth, savory base to the cocktail. The rim of smoked salt and BBQ spices and garnish of pork belly completed the concept – I was drinking my BBQ instead of eating it (well, with the exception of the pork belly which just makes everything better!) and enjoying every drop. Now you’re not going to find these specialty ingredients behind the bar at Star Bar every day, but seek out Justin anytime you want a beer cocktail that will rock your tastebuds and expand your palate via new combinations you’d never think of.
The 1st Annual Beer Cocktail Party recipes:
Amaro Drinkery Italia
1.5 oz CapRock vodka
2 oz Avery White Rascal
2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz coconut water
2 dash Angostura bitters
3/4 oz simple syrup (infused w/ orange peel, coriander, habañero & coconut extract)
Serve on the rocks
Colt & Gray
“All Hogs Go To Heaven”:
1.25 oz CapRock vodka
1/2 oz Campari
8 oz Avery Hog Heaven
Build ingredients in a tall pilsner glass, twist a grapefruit coin over the cocktail then briefly stir with Sour Patch Kid speared on a cocktail pick.
Happy / The Bitter Bar
“The Rally Cap”:
1.5 oz CapRock gin
3/4 Amaro Ciociaro
1/3 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz Falernum (made with Peak Spirits MEll vodka)
shake, strain into Collins glass, top with Avery White Rascal
Lou’s Food Bar
“The Dude Abides”:
1.5 oz CapRock vodka
1/2 oz Housemade Toddy Coffee
1/2 oz Housemade Orgeat (almond syrup)
Shake these together, Strain into collins glass, top with Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale, Cocoa Powder dusting on top.
Euclid Hall Restaurant
3/4 oz CapRock gin
3/4 oz Pimms
1/4 oz pinkpeppercorn simple
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 oz Avery Salvation
1 oz Avery Reverend
Stir over ice, strain in a collins glass with fresh ice. Garnish with cucumber wheel stuffed with mint.
“Pray for my SALVATION, I can’t imaGINe it’s coming!”:
1 oz CapRock gin
1 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Rose Water
shake, strain into Collins glass, top with 1.5 oz Avery Salvation
Pacifica Seafood & Raw Bar
“Italian Car Bomb (makes 2 cocktails)”:
1 oz CapRock gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
stir with ice, strain equally into two shot glasses. pour 4-6 oz of Avery Joe’s Pilsner into each of two pint glasses. Drop shot glass into beer-filled pint glass, consume!
“Sacrament of Q”:
1.5 oz Malt-Infused CapRock
Vodka (60% Rauch, 20% Peated, 20% Chocolate)
3 oz Avery Reverend
3 oz Avery Hog Heaven
Avery Salvation Foam
Rim with Smoked Alder Wood Sea Salt / BBQ Rub , Garnish with a Braised Pork Belly Skewer
Off the Cuff Cocktails
WINNER OF 2011 ASPEN FOOD & WINE BEER COCKTAIL EVENT!
“All White AveryThing (an antique-styled punch, served in a large punch bowl)”:
Avery White Rascal
Orange Blossom White Tea
White Pepper Hazelnut Syrup
White Grapefruit Juice
Serve with a ladle into in a rocks glass, well chilled
Greg Van Wagner
Oak at Fourteenth
“Wallace’s Tipple” (makes 2 cocktails):
1.5 oz CapRock Gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz honey syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
shake with ice, strain equally into two beer goblets, top each cocktail with 3-4oz of Avery Karma Ale, garnish with 2-3 drops of rhubarb bitters
Tags: 1st Annual Beer Cocktail Party, Amaro Drinkery Italia, Aspen Food & Wine, avery, Avery Brewing, beer, Beer cocktail, Bianca Huggins, Brian Melton, Britt Henze, Burton Daniel, CapRock, cocktail, colt gray, Dina Ramsted, Euclid Hall, gin, Greg Van Wagner, Happy/The Bitter Bar, Jack Rabbit, Jen Fowler, Jim Halligan, Juke Box, Justin Lloyd, Kevin Burke, Lou's Food Bar, Mateo, Matt Lanning, ME11, MELL, Oak at Fourteenth, Off the Cuff Cocktails, Pacifica Seafood & Raw Bar, Peak Spirits, Ryan Caple, Ryan Conklin, Sean Buchan, Sour Patch Kids, star bar, Tara Curry, The Dude Abides, Vodka