Monday, July 25, 2011

Beer cocktails? The time has come

I've typically eschewed the concept and the practice of "beer cocktails". Certainly, a beer -- after being crafted from multiple ingredients -- could not be made any better by mixing it with other liquors, juices, and what-not. Right?

Then, someone who knows a thing or two about our beloved beer and many other things food- and beverage-related, Ashley Routson aka The Beer Wench, posted a recipe that she stirred up at home.

After reading, then re-reading, I had my epiphany. Many of us talk affectionately about cooking with beer -- adding it to chilis, sauces, and the Thanksgiving turkey just to name a few common uses. In most cases of cooking with food, how much original beer aroma and/or flavor remains in the final food product once plated? Typically, not so much as to be obviously noticeable.

So then why should I get so preachy against beer cocktails where the beer plays a role, but may not be the lead player? The recipe that The Beer Wench passed along called for a hop-prominent beer. She used Brew Free or Die from 21st Amendment; I am quite familiar with this lovely beer and had a can that I could use (their new Hop Crisis was the backup).

I like Tequila and we'd just bought a new bottle of Reposado, coincidentally once again just what the recipe called for.

The final two ingredients I found readily at my local Wegmans market: Agave nectar and fresh lime juice.

After shaking together and serving over ice, the result did not disappoint.

All the in-your-face hop bitterness from the beer was diminished but still noticeable. The Tequila made sure of that. But, like in a margarita, the Tequila can be adjusted to be more or less recognizable.

Offsetting these two bold flavors were the lime juice which added just a bit of bracing tartness and the agave with a touch of sweetness.

So basically it was an almost-margarita with an undercurrent of hop bitterness and pretty darn refreshing. It's opened my mind to new possibilities.

Hop over to The Beer Wench's site for the full recipe.

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