Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? Whether it’s a classic staple like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan or one of those newfangled Moscow Mules, a blend of spirits and quality ingredients is hard to pass up when you’re looking for a bit of respite. Beer lovers that aren’t necessary head-over-heels for liquor drinks still have options for trying the flavor combinations these mixed beverages offer. Here’s a group of cocktail-inspired brews that offer a take on the drinks in a beer rather than shaken or stirred in a fancy class. Some of these may have been released a while ago, but we’ve included them so we can try to cover as many different mixed drinks as possible. Who knows, if you rachet up your trade game, you may be able to procure a cellared bottle or two.
Image credit: NoDa
Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing may have hit the national craft beer radar with its Hop, Drop ‘N Roll IPA, but one of the brewery’s seasonal cans will attract cocktail lovers. As the name suggests, NoDojito is a Mojito-inspired beer with mint and lime zest. NoDa chose a Witbier as the backdrop for those ingredients, which keeps the flavors nice and light for the warm summer months. The final result is a refreshing take on a cocktail with a final ABV below 5% which makes this a great option for those outdoor activities. Drinkers in NC might still be able to find cans of this one hanging around.
Image credit: Boulevard
Boulevard Brewing Company has been releasing a number of X-series variations on its stellar Imperial Stout. After a handful of those, the brewery moved on to it’s boozy barrel-aged Rye-on-Rye Rye Ale with the first X version offering an interpretation of another classic cocktail. The Sazerac version of Rye-on-Rye rested in Templeton Rye barrels after its first barrel aging, which created a double-barrel ale with a heavy dose of both rye whiskey and wood flavors. To impart the flavors of a Sazerac, the base rye beer was brewed with a blend of spices to mimic bitters, and lemon peel was added during the boil. Oh yeah, this one should still be on shelves, too.
Image credit: Wicked Weed
The folks at Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC have concocted a number of cocktail-inspired brews, but the brewery recently bottled an old favorite. In addition to takes on the Gin Fizz and other beverages, Wicked Weed’s Old Fashioned combines a bourbon barrel-aged Old Ale with oranges and cherries for a beer that’s sure to please lovers of the real thing. What’s more, it was released recently enough that you might still be able to find it on shelves.
Image credit: Westbrook
Mexican Cake is likely the first beer that comes to mind when you think of Westbrook Brewing Company, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, but the brewery has a truckload of cocktail-inspired beers under its belt. From a Margarita Gose to Fisticuffs, which was aged in Bittermilk Barrel-Aged Old Fashion barrels, Westbrook is keen on releasing beers that reinterpret popular mixed drinks on the regular. The Whiskey Sour version of its Berliner Weisse is aged in bourbon barrels with lemon to create this tart and delicious brew. It was recently released again and is currently available at the Westbrook taproom.
Image credit: Flying Dog
Mint Juleps are all the rage when it comes to a companion beverage for the Kentucky Derby. To celebrate this year’s attempt at a Triple Crown, Flying Dog added Mint Julep Ale to its list of so-called Brewhouse Rarities. The beer is a Belgian Blonde Ale with mint leaves and honeysuckle to ensure the final result wasn’t overly sweet. Mint Julep Ale hit distribution back in the spring, but perhaps Flying Dog will brew it once again for this year’s festivities. If they do, be on the look out for it if you’re not so much into the sugary, bourbon, crushed ice version.
Image credit: Bruery Terreux
When two of the best wild, sour and mixed fermentation breweries in the country come together for a collaboration beer, expectations are high. Bruery Terreux and Jester King teamed up for Imperial Cabinet: a Gin Fizz-inspired barrel-fermented Farmhouse Ale. The beer was brewed to a higher ABV than most beers of the style (8-9%) with rosemary, lavender, juniper, and cubeb pepper botanicals to mimic the flavors of gin. True to the original cocktail recipe, dried orange blossoms were added during the boil as the directions call for orange blossom water. The beer rested for 10 months in oak barrels with yeast and bacteria from both breweries, and during the final weeks of aging, orange peel, lemon zest, lime zest, and vanilla beans were added to round out the flavors.
Image credit: Pipeworks
Fans of The Big Lebowski probably already get the reference here, but if you haven’t caught on yet, Pipeworks’ Hey, Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here! Is a take on the White Russian as an hommage to The Dude himself. Released in 2013, the beer is an Imperial Milk Stout that was brewed with lactose, vanilla, coffee and cocoa as a means of creating the beer version of the cocktail. The result was a 10.5% White Russian Stout that’s currently sitting at 80 and 86 scores on RateBeer and Beer Advocate respectfully. You might have to work hard to procure this one, but like Westbrook and Wicked Weed, Pipeworks has a few cocktail-inspired creations in its catalog.
Image credit: Perennial
Brewed in collaboration with The Aviary cocktail lounge in Chicago, Perennial’s The Last Word recreates the beverage by the same name. The beer was the first installment in the brewery’s Dealer’s Choice series of beers that were all inspired by mixed drinks. Released in 2014, The Last Word is a tart fruit ale that was brewed with lemon and cherries to mimic the flavors of the cocktail. An interpretation of the Jack Rose was the second beer in the group, and it was released in 2015. That second beer was brewed with a hand from the folks at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, DC.
Image credit: B. Nektar
Sure, this technically isn’t a beer, but it is inspired by a cocktail so we’ll allow it to make the cut. Mead lovers certainly know the name B. Nektar, and this year the meadery released a new concoction that will appeal to both cocktail lovers and fans of Breaking Bad. Tuco-Style Freakout is a mead made with both honey and agave with the addition of lime for a slightly different take on those Margarita-like flavors. What’s more, this tribute to Tuco Salamanca sits at 6%, so it’s not as potent as many meads tend to be. The final product is a mix of tart, sweet and bitter flavors that are refreshing and highly crushable for the heat of summer. The best part? You should be able to find this one in stores through September.
Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.