Episode 048 - Beer Cocktails (AKA "Beertails")

Beer cocktails aka beertails.jpg

What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

In today’s episode, we explore the intersection of two beautiful beverages - beer and cocktails. Although beer and cocktails are very separate and distinct beverage categories today, there were various points in world history and in the history of the United States where the line between these two types of drinks was much blurrier.

We were able to get ahold of cocktail author and beverage consultant Jon Yeager, who, along with his wife Lindsay, runs a company called PourTaste in Nashville.

Jon and Lindsay are preparing to release a really cool book called The Ultimate Guide to Beer Cocktails, published by Skyhorse Publishing. And so it’s great timing for us to talk about the weird and wonderful world of beer-driven cocktails.

 Jon and Lindsay Yeager shaking things up!

Jon and Lindsay Yeager shaking things up!

Some of the other topics we discuss during this interview include:

  • The vast sweep of beer history, zooming in and out to identify key moments in the development of the beer cocktail.
  • Where and how these concoctions came about, with special focus on Great Britain and the United States.
  • The use of herbs, spices, and bittering agents like wormwood to create proto-cocktails with strange names like gruit, purl, wassail, and posset.
  • Classic and contemporary beertails ranging from Jerry Thomas’s Porter Punch to the Michelada.
  • The answer to the ever-pressing question: What would Jesus Drink?
  • And much, much more

Here's a link to the Amazon pre-order page for The Ulitmate Guide to Beer Cocktails. So please head on over there and reserve your copy today!

Featured Beertail - The Dog's Nose

This week’s featured beer cocktail is the Dog’s Nose, which is about as classic a beer cocktail as you’ll ever come across. To make it, you’ll need:

  • 1 pint of a dark ale (porter works, but there are other options)
  • 2 oz gin (London dry is a good choice here)
  • ½ tablespoon of brown or unrefined sugar (you can go for a full tablespoon here if the ale is a dry one)
  • A dash of nutmeg

And what you want to do is get a heat-resistant glass, warm up that ale (either stovetop or in the microwave) to the point where it’s steaming, but not bubbling or boiling. And then add the gin and the sugar. The heat is going to allow the sugar to dissolve as you stir, and then just shake or grate that nutmeg right on top of the drink before you serve.

To me, the Dog’s nose is a great example of several classic beertail “moves” that Jon and I discuss. Heating the beer is one of those moves that was very common back in the day, and adding spice to the equation is another classic beertail hallmark.

Show Notes

Okay, so we threw a lot of funny looking drink names and definitions at you this episode. Here's a breakdown that should help you keep them straight.

Purl

This is beer (or wine in the case of the "Purl Royale") infused with wormwood, and possibly other herbs and spices. Often served warm. 

The predecessor to purl is a beer antecedent called gruit, which is beer that was bittered with roots and spices, rather than hops.

 A steaming bowl of wassail

A steaming bowl of wassail

Wassail

Wassial is like a beer punch. Basically, you take some nice dark ale, heat it up, and add mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Occasionally, biscuits would even be floated on top of the hot liquid. 

This beverage was often served during the Christmas holidays to groups of people who went "wassailing" (what we would call caroling) door-to-door.

Possett

A possett consists of dark beer whipped into egg and cream, seasoned with citrus and/or spice.

Other Beer-Driven Mixed Drinks

Jerry Thomas's Porter Punch

  • Porter (Ale)
  • Brandy
  • Cucumber (Muddled)

The Michelada

Made with Mexican beer, lime juice, spice, and maybe some worcestershire sauce and/or veg, the Michelada is like a Mexican lager ran into a Bloody Mary.

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

The Vieux Carre

If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?

Brandy, because it's my favorite spirit category of all time.

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

I'd have Jesus turn some water into some fine sherry.

Influential Cocktail Books

Advice to New Home Bartenders

Be comfortable with the classics, and make sure that you're getting classics from the right places when you go out to the bar. Wrap your head around those things first, and then branch out.

CC Attributions

Featured Cocktail Background Music

Backbay Lounge Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ 

Wassail Photo

Photo by Jeremy Tarling, Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 2.0 License (Share Alike) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/