Imbibe Hour


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beer Cocktails, stepping it up with Maui Coconut Porter and Chairman's Reserve Rum

Something seems to be happening in the drink world that defies explanation.  Two unlikely concoctions, beer, and liquor (in the form of cocktails) have come to a-head on meeting in a full collision melding with craft practice.  How did this seemingly happen?

Brewers have taken the world over with interesting beer.  Revisiting old styles, revamping them, taking on new twists, and giving many things for beer geeks to salivate over.

With that, mixoligists and bartenders (can they be one or the same... sure) using their knowledge of solid cocktails, combine their smarts and find interesting ways to meld flavors, technique, and history to make something different and hopefully delicious.

Mixing alcohol into beer is really nothing new.  How many times have you heard of depth-chargers,  car bombs (or that other name that isn't so flattering), boiler makers, snakebites and so forth.  Sometimes adding things to a beer involved things that just seemed like an afterthought out of boredom, such as the stories I hear from people dunking a shot of whiskey X into a pint of brew.  I doesn't even have to be other alcohol, shandys, radlers also come to mind.

However, sometimes people put a little more effort into a good drink, and when they do the results can shine, and from that you can have a beer cocktail with true thought and great taste.

Beer cocktails aren't without their controversy either.  Some brewers cringe at the idea of a beer they concocted, slaved over, perfected after many repetitions, just to have someone seemingly pour something ELSE into the mix.  Dam them all some might say.  Others might be more flattered.  What if you could punch flavors out, enhance them, use good quality ingredients, just as the brewer intended, could it work?  For myself personally, I am on the fence, but I take exception to anyone who does things with good technique, and understanding of what came before, and those who use the right things at the right time.  A beer cocktail can truly get it right.

Pictured above is a beer cocktail developed by Gina Chersevani, and published in the Washington Post (recipe here).  In it, she uses a fantastic craft style American Porter beer made in Hawaii that I have actually reviewed before called Maui Coconut Porter.  Just toss a shot of whiskey into your glass after you pour?  Hell... and no.

In this drink, she uses classic cocktail ingredient and proportions, that enhance the character and flavor of the drink.  Chairman's rum is used, to give a molasses kick with a very dry match of the porters roast, coconut milk and sweet syrup come into the mix to pull out that coconut of the porter also, and add a sweetness not unlike a good refreshing summer cocktail.

I decided I had to try this drink out and get an idea if a beer cocktail can really deliver.  And when done right, it really shines.  There are plenty of other beer cocktails out there, and so long as they are done with thought and care, I'd love try more myself.  Check out the video below to see how I made this drink.


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