Cocktails On Tap

May 17, 2017, by Will Ziebell
Cocktails On Tap

As the Australian craft beer industry continues to grow, one likely side effect is its continued encroachment into areas of dining that had once been unexplored by beer and brewers. While pairing food with beer has been championed by many Australian breweries, chefs and sommeliers, particularly in recent years, less have spent much time exploring beer as an ingredient, be that in restaurants or within a cocktail. 

When it comes to the latter, there are few who know more than Jacob Grier (pictured above), the Portland-based writer and bartender behind the book Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer and who beer fans visiting Portland will find working at either Wayfinder Beer or the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library.  

“The beer growth doesn’t seem to be declining at all,” says Jacob of the Oregon city regarded by many beer geeks as something of a utopia. “There may not be any other place in the US that drinks as much local beer as Oregon; it’s really phenomenal. 

“The density of good restaurants, bars and coffee shops just keeps on expanding, it’s becoming a much more upscale city.”

If Portland is truly a beer lover’s paradise, then Melburnians have plenty of cause to be excited. Less than 24 hours into his visit to the city, when he sat down with The Crafty Pint he said he could understand Melbourne’s appeal – a place that, like Portland, has its share of high quality bars and cafés.

His time in Australia as a guest of the festival should encourage more local venues and booze aficionados to embrace beer as an ingredient. It's a trend that's been on the rise in America over the last few years, led by the desire of bartenders to find a new frontier for their craft.

“Bartenders are constantly on the lookout for new ingredients to play with behind the bar and beer – at least until recently - was pretty unexplored,” says Jacob. “Now it’s really taking off and I feel like I see beer cocktails everywhere I go these days.

“It definitely seems like in a lot of craft cocktail bars you are likely to see beer as an ingredient on at least one drink on the menu.”

Unsurprisingly, considering he wrote an entire book on the subject, it's a trend Jacob is excited by. However, he says it's important beer isn't used as a gimmick but rather thought of as another ingredient in a bartender’s arsenal.

“I think sometimes people try too hard to emphasise the beer in the drink and it and it can be unbalanced,” he says. “Whereas if they just see it as one more ingredient to play with then the final drink can often come out better.”

With that in mind, Jacob’s recipes are typically restrained and he stresses that like any good cocktails – and good beer – balance is the key.

Here are three from his book to try.

From left to right: Mai Ta-IPA, Averna Stout Flip and Mulled Ale.


Mai Ta-IPA

“One of my favourite tricks is taking classic tropical cocktails and just shaking them with about an ounce to an ounce and a half of IPA. Just shake the whole thing up and strain the cocktail out as you normally would. 

“That gives you a little bit of bitterness that you don’t normally get in this type of cocktail and really nice frothy head too because you’ve shaken the beer into it.” 

  • 1 1/2 oz IPA
  • 1 oz light, funky rum
  • 1 oz aged rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz orgeat
  • 1/2 oz orange curacao
  • cocktail cherries, for garnish
  • Shake with ice, strain into ice-filled glass, garnish with cherries.

Averna Stout Flip

“I find that dark beer in a flip plays really well. This one is really delicious, it’s really creamy and kind of chocolate – it’s like a grown-up milkshake.”

  • 2 oz Averna
  • 1 oz rich stout
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • whole egg
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
  • Shake with ice, strain into a wine glass or snifter, garnish with nutmeg.

Mulled Ale (adapted from Cedric Dickens)

“I’ve adapted this one from Charles Dicken’s great-grandson who wrote a book called Drinking with Dickens.

“The key with using beer in warm cocktails is to get a really malty beer that isn’t too bitter because when you heat up the beer you accentuate the bitterness.”

  • 12 oz malty English-style ale
  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch each of winter spices such as clove, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • thin orange wheel, for garnish
  • Combine ale, Cognac, sugar, and spices in a pot and heat to about 60 C. Pour into a warmed mug and garnish with the orange wheel.

NB Jacob uses imperial measures. For those who work in metric measures, 1 oz is equivalent to 30ml. 

You can catch Jacob as part of Carwyn Cellars' US Beer Cocktail Battle on May 21 and there are still tickets for a beer and whisky event at The Kilburn on May 20 too.

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