Crafting a Quality Cocktail for Virginia Beer Month

by PEvansHylton | Posted on August 25th, 2014

From time immortal, beer seems to have been part of the human experience; 7,000-year-old earthen vessels in Mesopotamia show signs of having housed the amber liquid.

But when someone first decided to marry beer with the cocktail is anyone’s guess, however Victorian-era notations from Britain support the idea that it’s been around for quite some time.

Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria restaurants, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria establishments, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

Beer cocktails (the Germans call them Biermischgetränke, or “beer-based mixed drinks”) are quick-and-easy to prepare and very refreshing. And, because most beer has a lower alcohol-by-volume than spirits, you may want to indulge in more than one imbibe.

I can’t think of a better reason to raise a glass to August being Virginia Craft Beer Month than getting crafty with some of the commonwealth’s best beverages. Below are some of my recipes; I hope they will become favorites of yours.

Please note that some beers are flagship offerings, while others may be limited to certain times of the year. Brews may also be available by the bottle or can, growler, or keg, depending on the quaff; check with breweries for seasonal and packaging availability.

The good news is that, if one of our suggested beers happens to not be around at the time, there are dozens of great craft breweries across Virginia offering countless varieties and styles – something for every palate.

-

The Cocktail: Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks

A year-round favorite cocktail is the margarita; there have even been songs written about this concoction that helps folks hang on.

The classic gets a makeover with the addition of a slightly hoppy lager which plays very nicely with the flavors of tequila and frozen limeade concentrate, which is the base for this drink.

Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

The Brewery:

Starr Hill Brewery
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

5391 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet
434-823-5671

The Brew Used:

Starr Pils
“… A classic German Pilsner. This beer is crafted with pilsner malt, German hops and Bavarian lager yeast. It is golden in color with a subtle malt backbone and pleasant hop aroma.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

Ingredients
1 12-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup tequila
48 ounces lager
2 limes, cut into wedges
Sea salt

Method
Chill beer.

In a large carafe, add limeade concentrate, lemon juice and tequila and stir to incorporate. Squeeze wedges from one lime into container and toss in. Add the beer and fill container with ice, slightly stirring.

Take one lime wedge and run around the rim of each glass. Pour salt onto a plate and dip the rims of the glasses into the salt to coat. Pour margaritas into glasses and garnish with remaining lime wedges.

Yields 4-6 cocktails

-

The Cocktail: Black Velvet

Black Velvet is a beer cocktail made from floating chilled stout beer on top of a sparkling white wine. The drink has its origins at Brook’s Club in London in 1861. This cocktail is a great substitute for mimosas.

We recommend using a Virginia sparkling wine for the cocktail; find a favorite.

The Brewery:

O’Connor Brewing Co.
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

211 West 24th St., Norfolk
757-623-2337

The Brew Used:

Dry Irish Stout (ODIS)
“A robust dry Irish stout with a rich roasted malt aroma. Smooth and velvety on the palate, concluding with a lingering dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

Ingredients
3 ounces sparkling wine
3 ounces stout beer

Method
Chill the sparkling wine and stout beer.

Pour the sparkling wine in a champagne flute and carefully pour the stout beer atop. Serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail

-

The Cocktail: Red Eye

Tomato juice is added in a number of beer cocktails, including the Mexican classic Michelada, a concoction of beer, lime juice, Worcestershire (and other) sauce and spices, including peppers.

Sometimes even the venerable Bloody Mary is made with beer, with monikers like Bloody Beer and Red Beer. The Red Eye is similar.

Popularized in the 1988 Tom Cruise movie Cocktail as a morning after, hair of the dog drink to ease into the day after a long night of imbibing, the Red Eye traditionally has a raw egg added as a final flourish; that is certainly optional.

Another option: use a bloody mary mix in place of tomato juice. There are several incredible bloody mary mixes which hail from the commonwealth.

Visit Virginia’s Finest for a list of regional products, including bloody mary mixes and hot sauces, which is also an ingredient in this drink.

Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

The Brewery:

Port City Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria
703-797-2739

The Brew Used:

Downright Pilsner
“… Our take on a traditional Bohemian-style pilsner [golden color, prevalent hops, spicy floral flavor and aroma] … perfectly refreshing lager …” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

Ingredients

6 ounces tomato juice or bloody mary mix

1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
9 ounces pilsner
1 raw egg, optional

Method
Chill the tomato juice and beer.

In a pint glass add tomato juice, lemon juice and hot sauce and stir to incorporate. Fill glass with beer and serve immediately. Optionally, before serving, crack open a fresh egg and add to the drink.

Yields 1 cocktail

-

The Cocktail: Shandygaff

Crisp and refreshing, the Shandygaff, or Shandy, has origins to the mid-19th century when the word was used in am 1853 novel by H. G. Wells to describe a drink of beer mixed with ginger beer; sometimes ginger ale was substituted.

Today there are many variations, and in our neck of the woods, often a lemon flavor is introduced and the drink is called a Lemon Shandy.

Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway's Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway’s Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

We infuse our drink with fresh lemon juice and top it off with ginger ale. We recommend Northern Neck Ginger Ale, which is now produced by Coca-Cola, but has had strong ties to the Northern Neck of Virginia since 1926.

The Brewery:

Parkway Brewing
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

739 Kessler Mill Rd., Salem
540-314-8234

The Brew Used:

Bridge Builder Blonde
“An easy drinking Belgian-style ale … [with] a wheat flavored backbone from the malt, tempered with hints of clove, banana and pear.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

Ingredients

7 ounces Belgian-style ale
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
7 ounces ginger ale

Method
Chill the beer and ginger ale.

In a pint glass, add the beer and lemon juice, gently stirring to incorporate. Add a few ice cubes and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail

-

The Cocktail: Snakebite

With equal parts beer and hard cider, a shot of vodka and some raspberry liqueur added for good measure, the Snakebite is a refreshing, easy-to-drink cocktail that will sneak up on you and take a bite before you know it.

Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

British in origin, it is sometimes made with stout rather than lager, and often a cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur is used rather than a raspberry one. The drink is also sometimes known as Diesel.

One of the quaff’s components, cider, is celebrated each November with Cider Week Virginia. See the map and locate your closest cidery at Virginia.org/Cider. Be sure to use Virginia cider when making this drink.

The Brewery:

Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

Basecamp:
200 Mosbys Run, Roseland
434-361-1001

The Outpost:
50 Northwind Lane, Lexington
540-462-6200

The Brew Used:

Gold Leaf Lager
“A striking gold color, light bodied with subtle, bready malt flavors. A quenching, crisp and dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

Of note, this beer won Gold Medal in 2009 and 2010 at the Great American Beer Festival and an International Style Pilsner Bronze Medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.

The Recipe:

Ingredients
7 ounces cider
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
7 ounces lager

Method
Chill the cider and beer.

In a pint glass, add the cider, vodka and raspberry liqueur and gently stir to combine. Fill the glass with the beer and serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail

-

The Cocktail: Sundae Funday Beer Float

For a spiked, sweet ending to a meal, or a tipsy treat anytime, this beer float fits the bill with the rich, delicious porter – with aromas and flavors of chocolate and caramel – with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream added for extra decadence.

This is what you'll be looking for when seeking AleWerks' Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

This is what you’ll be looking for when seeking AleWerks’ Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

We enhance coffee notes from the beer with a drizzling of a coffee-based liqueur, such as Kahlua, drizzled on top.

Serve this cocktail with a straw and a spoon.

The Brewery:

AleWerks Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

189B Ewell Rd., Williamsburg
757-220-3670

The Brew Used:

Washington’s Porter Ale
“Very dark brown/black in color with an aroma of chocolate and malt and flavors of caramel, sweet chocolate and a touch of roasted barley.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

Ingredients
10 ounces porter beer
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
2 ounces coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

Method
Chill the beer and add to a pint glass. Add ice cream and drizzle coffee liqueur on top. Serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail

-

Patrick Evans-Hylton

Patrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

 

—–

Enjoy a Beer Cocktail at these Virginia Restaurants:

Leave a Reply