Beer of the Week: Beer Mixology

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John Linn
Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

My friend recently told me about a little game he and some other beer nuts play over at BX Beer Depot in Lake Worth. Essentially, it has to do with beer mixology. One person chooses two beers and pours an even amount of each into the same cup. Everyone else gets to taste the mixture and then guess which two beers it's actually comprised of. It's pretty tough to pick two random beers out of one sip. So the winner gets bragging rights for clearly having a much more developed beer palate than his or her wimpy cohorts.

Although this version of beer mixology is mostly for fun, mixing beers together and into actual beer cocktails has grown to be pretty popular. Cutting-edge bartenders are introducing specialty beer drinks into their menus, and customers are guzzling them down happily. But beer mixology isn't just restricted to trendy bars. Just look at the classic Black and Tan, which mixes dark Guinness stout with bitter Bass ale, for proof.

There are some new beer cocktails that go well beyond the Black and Tan. But for home use, the practice of mixing two beers together to improve their flavor can lead to great results. Take Lagunitas' Hop Stoopid (previously reviewed on BotW) and Avery's White Rascal. Both beers are extreme examples of their style: The Hop Stoopid is so heavily hopped that its honeyed, bitter flavors can be almost cloying; White Rascal, an unfiltered Belgian white, is so strong that it's practically acrid. But mix the two together, as I did in the picture above, and you get a very drinkable cocktail that has plenty of hops but an added malty backbone to beef it up.

Another favorite beer cocktail of mine is a play off a Black and Tan called a Charlie Brown. I first sampled this beer about ten years ago at the long-gone George and the Dragon Pub on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. The bartender layered Shipyard Pumpkin Ale with Guinness Stout to create a drink that was orange and black -- just like Charlie Brown's iconic shirt. The resulting drink was creamy from the Guinness and spicy/fruity from the pumpkin ale. And it's great during the fall, when pumpkin ale is all over.

What other kinds of beer cocktails can you create? Try the Black Velvet, an equal-parts mixture of champagne and Guinness. Or the classic Shandy, a drink one of my old English co-workers used to tout as a midday pick-me-up. It has one part lager, one part ginger ale or carbonated lemonade.

A more complex concoction is the Stout Diplomat, a drink that hails from San Francisco and includes six ounces of chocolate stout (try Young's) with one ounce of dark rum and half an ounce of sherry. Finally, you can always make a cooling, Mexican-style Chelada, as Charlie previously detailed here.

In the end, don't just stick to recipes when mixing beer. Let your imagination take you to new, interesting places. You don't have to make a competition out of it. But that can be part of the fun as well.

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