Beer may seem an unlikely ingredient in a well-crafted cocktail, but no matter the style, be it porters or pale ales, lagers or stouts, beer does work incredibly well in mixed drinks. Pint of ale-tini anyone?
Rocketing onto menus in the last five years, the trend has really burgeoned thanks to the range of beers available and niche categories within styles of beer. Indian Pale Ales and American Pale Ales have become hoppier while porters and stouts have become darker, creating flavours which can stand up in a cocktail. As Worship Street Whistling Shop owner Tristan Stephenson says “for me, some of these beers are simply too much on their own - they need to be mixed with something to make them drinkable!”
This isn’t the latest trend to sweep mixology either, although modern bartenders have certainly refined and vastly improved hoptails. As a nation the Brits have been imbibing beer concoctions for centuries. Medieval recipes saw unhopped ales combined with roasted apples, sugar and milk or spices whereas classic flips in the 1700s used rum, hot ale and sugar, sometimes with cream and eggs. Possibly one of Britain’s best known mixes is the simple half-stout half-Champagne Black Velvet which was all the rage in Victorian London.
Thankfully the times have greatly improved and today’s cocktails are as far from half-beer topped with more alcohol or sugary gun lemonade as they possibly could be. Bartenders now understand that incorporating beer into their cocktails creates drinks with astounding aromatics and texture.
Or as Oskar Kinberg, director of the bar at Dabbous, says “beer is great to do drinks with. Use it either as a lengthener with more substance than say soda or lemonade, or base your drink entirely around the flavours of a specific beer. Hoppy beers work great with floral ingredients such as elderflower or nettle. Wheat beer works great with citrus and spice. Beer dries out a drink that's too sweet by adding bitterness and body. It is also a great "gateway" cocktail for people who usually just drink beers.”
Bars across London are serving up some great example of hoptails this London Beer Week as part of the Beer Tours.
London Cocktail Club have created the Huggalicious: a specially created hoptail made using Big Hug ale, tequila, lime juice and agave syrup.
Find it their Shoreditch, Oxford Circus, Islington, Goodge Street, Shaftesbury Avenue venues.
Worship Street Whistling Shop have mixed up two Hoptails. The Kernow Gigglemug using Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite, gin, roasted fennel seed syrup, citrus and caramelized kosovar juniper foam, and the Buccaner Gigglemug using spiced rum, Sharp’s Honey IPA, Palm and Cassia syrup, citrus and Honeycomb foam.
Craft Cocktail Company have made a M-ale Tai, a traditional Tiki rework made using Brewdog Punk IPA and Scotch.
Heddon Street Kitchen will be serving their Padua Potatio, a light refreshing mix of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Aperol and fresh blood orange.
Union Street Cafe are offering the Peroni Sour, a tasty mix of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, calvados, lemon juice and bergamot reduction.
Bread Street Kitchen have created the The Dreamer, a specially created mix of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, limoncello, pecon l’orange, lemon juice and orange bitters.
Duck and Rice have mixed up The Tank Old Fashioned, a delicious blend of Pilsner Tank Beer, Woodford Reserve bourbon, beer sugar and orange bitters.
Hop House 13 LDN (LBW pop-up) are serving a Bulleit Beer Cocktail using Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, Apricot liqueur, and Hop house 13 LDN.