Maybe it’s all the college and pro football games on TV or the start of the baseball playoffs, but we’re suddenly craving a brewski. While we’ll skip the Oktoberfest lederhosen and polka, thank you very much, beer’s malty flavor works great in an autumnal cocktail.
Fortunately, this summer’s Tales of the Cocktail conference offered a masterclass in building sudsy concoctions, hosted by Chicago bartender Adam Seger, master sommelier Doug Frost and Southern Wine & Spirits director of mixology Francesco Lafranconi.
The most surprising piece of advice? Avoid hop-heavy IPAs, which tend to take over any recipe. Instead, the experts suggested using Belgian ales, whose acidic, fruity and often funky notes play much better with spirits.
That’s clear in Frost’s Dark & Stoutly, a fiery habanero spin on the classic Dark ‘n Stormy. The tartness of the deeply malty stout matches perfectly with the lime, ginger and rum.
Sour is also a key element of Seger’s Mezcal & Mayhem featuring a tripel-style brew and Southern favorite mayhaw jelly (a little lemon juice and raspberry preserves is a fine substitute if you live above the Mason-Dixon Line). The combination stands up nicely to Campari’s bitterness and mezcal’s smokiness.
And then there’s Lafranconi’s Rub & Rye (pictured above). With a rye whiskey base, a barbecue-rub rim and a beef-jerky garnish, it’s one of the manliest creations we’ve ever encountered. But it’s topped with Scaldis Pêche Mel, a Belgian beer that adds an unexpected peach flavor and effervescence. It is, of course, excellent paired with grilled meat and sports. Cheers!