Summer is here — time to spice up your life and look beyond your basic beer at the backyard barbecue, pool party, or beach.
Most craft beers are meant to be enjoyed without any additives, and if you’re a beer lover, you’ll likely abide by that expectation while imbibing. That said, if you’re stuck with watery macro beers, why not play with some beer cocktails? You can easily find radlers and shandies (more on those in a moment) in cans, but there’s plenty more you can do with beer in terms of blending it with other beverages.
Here are some of the best beer mixed drinks to try this summer.
Shandy: Beer and Juice (or Soda)
In 2007, Wisconsin’s Leinenkugel Brewing Co. released Summer Shandy, a mixture of lemonade and traditional German Weiss beer. Both the beer and the style became hit a across the U.S. — nine in 10 shandies sold in America are Leinenkugel, and the brewery has since released orange, grapefruit, and berry varieties.
You can experiment with shandies — or radlers, as they became known as in Germany — at home by mixing lemonade, limeade, or lemon-lime soda to give your brew a sour punch. Wheat beers and saisons meld well with the lemon- and lime-forward drinks.
However, flavor palates vary, so try different types of beers with different types of juices. Grapefruit juice meshes well with citrusy hops in IPAs and pale ales, while other IPAs and pales might have more tropical hops that would go with pineapple juice.
Michelada: Beer and Bloody Mary Mix
Love a Bloody Mary? A michelada is a good way to start off a morning at the lake house. Simply mix a bottle or can of your beer of choice with the desired amount of tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix and doctor it up however you would a cocktail — add some hot sauce, a pickle, loads of lime juice, whatever! Salt the rim as you please.
Most light beers will work — Anheuser Busch and Modelo even make canned versions — but micheladas are usually made with Mexican lagers, like Modelo or Corona. A ‘chelada subtracts the tomato juice, focusing on lime juice and spices.
Beergarita: Beer and Margarita Mix
To really amp up the beer and the party, combine beer and a margarita.
A bottle — again, preferably a Mexican lager — can be turned up into the glass of margarita. If you’re serving more than one, make a pitcher by blending the beer with the tequila and margarita mix or limeade. Not a fan of tequila or don’t need the strength? Go ahead and subtract the liquor.
Black Velvet: Beer and Champagne
Adding a little bit of sparkle to a beer can make it even more refreshing.
The Black Velvet is traditionally made with Champagne and a stout, so if there are some extra heavy beers lying around in the fridge that need to be lightened up for the warm weather, this is a great way to do it. Of course, a bit of dry sparkling wine can add a nice touch of refreshment and effervescence to any style of beer.
Colabier: Beer and Coca-Cola
Putting anything with beer can make some brew enthusiasts shake their head, but Coca-Cola might be one of the weirder suggestions. It’s a trendy mixture in Germany, where it is called Colabier.
Again, as with all beer cocktails, different amounts will lead to different results. A 50/50 mixture of beer and Coke will be extremely sweet, so suggest a ratio that uses less soda. As for the beer, keep it simple and not hoppy — try light lagers or caramel-like brown and amber ales.