Blending Beers, Give'em a Try at Craft Brewed
Some called it a suicide, others may have referred to it as a pop bomb, though no matter your generation or where you grew up, you’ve undoubtedly done it--a few seconds of Coke, maybe a little Sprite, some root beer, and even some of that orange flavored soda. You blended soda then, why can’t you blend adult soda today?
Blending is nothing new. It’s been a predominant part of the whiskey industry for years. Distillers blend from many different barrels to ensure a more consistent profile for their brands. In the brewing world, young and old lambics have been blended for ages by the Belgians to create a complexity of sour, tart, and fruity flavors. But why blend? Perhaps you’re bored of the same beers on the menu and you need to mix things up a bit.
Blending allows you to take the characteristics of one beer and add it to another. You like that imperial stout, but want more coffee notes. Blend the imperial and a coffee stout and your goal is achieved. Or you if think that IPA could use some more citrus notes, put in a splash of Radler.
Another benefit could be the dilution of a higher alcohol beer into a lower alcohol brew. Maybe you just don’t want the alcohol that’s imminent with a barrel-aged imperial stout. Cut it with a nicely bodied lower alcohol porter. It might surprise you. It doesn’t have to be a 50/50 mix. Some beers have powerful notes, others not so much. Mix to taste. Trial and error is part of the fun!
Some well-known beer blends:
- Black and Tan. It’s a beer cocktail comprised of a pale ale (or any other lighter bodied & colored beer) and traditionally Guinness Stout. It looks pretty, and it’s recognizable. And it isn’t half bad.
The Shandy. It’s beer mixed with lemonade. While the thought doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven, shandies can be quite appealing. Usually more popular in the warmer months, they are very drinkable while sitting on a boat, after or while mowing the lawn, or just as an alternative to straight up beer.
The Radler. Similar to the shandy, but replace the lemonade with fruit soda. Widely known and popular is the Stiegl Grapefruit Radler from Austria. It weighs in at only 2.5% alcohol by volume. Translation: you can drink a lot of this. While not overly sweet on the palate, you may tire of a radler before the signs of buzz show up. Pro tip: put a splash of gin or vodka in your shandy or radler to give it a little more power
Next time you’re at your favorite watering hole, pick two beers off the menu that might jive well together and ask your bartender to blend them. It is beer after all. There are no rules that say you can’t have fun and be creative. Don’t be afraid to create your own unofficial brewery collaboration. You might just find something that works. If you do, come up with a witty name and perhaps the bar will put it on the menu and pay your royalties in beer.
Some Favorite Nashville Blends
Blackstone Pumpkin + Blackstone Porter
Black Abbey Potus 44 Coffee Porter + Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale
Yazoo Ten Year White IPA + Stiegl Radler
Tennessee Brew Works Cutaway IPA + Tennessee Brew Works Southern Wit