Well, that's not totally true. In a small town, usually you have your choice of two bars: the Sports Bar and the Faux Pub. The Faux Pub will usually have the better beer.
Have you ever wondered about these "Beer Cocktails", as they're called? I know I have. And with St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, the season is upon us for drinks from across the pond.
The reason you only see the beer cocktail is because they're a very British innovation. It is almost impossible to trace the origins of individual blended ale drinks due to a wide variety of regional differences but we do know that, "consumers in England have ordered blends of ales in pubs and alehouses since at least the early 1700s..." (The Oxford Companion to Beer)
The earliest recorded mention of the Black and Tan specifically came from a slang dictionary in 1889 (Ibid).
What is it even?
Now that we know that beer cocktails are at least as old as the Queen, let's look at what they are.
At their core, a beer cocktail is just like a spirit cocktail but with beer at its base instead of hard alcohol. This can include the blended ale drinks we've been referring to this whole time, or it can refer to beer with another liquid added to it, like booze. (Garnishes don't count.)
- Blended ale drinks are popular because the bartender doesn't simply pour two beers into the same glass, he or she will pour half a beer and then layer the second half on top. This creates a two-toned layer effect which is actually quite cool.
- Bomb drinks are a thoroughly modern invention that you'll often see assholes ordering. (I'll make the clarification that assholes aren't the only ones to order these drinks, just most often.) They involve dropping a shot of some such booze into a glass of beer and then chugged. I have no problem with this, except when yelling and the slamming of tables is involved. That's when the aforementioned assholery comes in.
|Sake bombs are known for creating quite a mess.|
There are probably more, but those are certainly the most common.
How does the blended ale work?
This part is actually cool. It all breaks down to density, or, specific gravity. As any homebrewer could tell you, diferent beers have different densities. This accounts for all sorts of things like ABV and yeast attenuation (basically how efficient the yeast is at converting sugar to alcohol).
What density also does it let one beer float on top of another without mixing. Guinness is particularly good at this because it is such a low-gravity or 'non-dense' beer. The trick is to use an upside-down spoon (typically) as a method of dispersing the second beer into smaller drops that don't hit the first beer quite so hard and end up resting on top.
A quick Guinness fact!
Despite the stout's reputation as being "filling" and "big", the Guinness Draught is neither and indeed this is a common misconception about stouts. A much better way to tell how filling your beer is going to be is to look at the ABV. Interestingly, higher ABV also means more calories too.
The primary reason Guinness feels thicker and creamier than it is, is because it is poured using Nitro. I don't have time to get into it all today but if you're interested, check out this article on CraftBeer.com all about nitro. An incomplete but handy way of thinking about it is that nitro means smaller bubbles which impart a "creamy" texture to the body of your beer.
Now for some of my favorites
|Poor Man's Black Velvet|
- Poor Man's Black Velvet - Also known just as a Black Velvet, I've even seen it called a Snake Bite (which is something else), is a sweet cider and Guinness pour. The best part is those first couple of sips when they haven't mixed yet and you can get just a taste of cider in your stout.
- Snake Bite - The same as above, but instead of Guinness you use a lager.
- Boilermaker - The American Boilermaker is a shot of whiskey poured into a beer. Preferably, use shitty beer and shitty whiskey. Dropping the shot glass into the beer will result in a depth charge, which is a bomb drink, and drinking the whiskey on the side is called a shot and a beer.
(All sources Wikipedia)
Conspicuously left out may be the most famous American bomb drink, the Irish Car Bomb. I find it hard to promote a drink which so callously trivializes one of the worst and longest-running sectarian conflicts of the 20th century. That being said, the drink itself is great. We just need to call it something else. I'm thinking the "something something reunification handshake...bomb". It'll catch on soon.
Another one down
As luck, or just the turning seasons, would have it, I'l be heading back to archaeology work soon. It's been a nice run here in Minnesota drinking good beer but pretty soon I'll have to give that all up and move back to North Dakota. Fortunately, there's always the Laughing Sun...