The Food Issue: Beertails for summer

Beat the heat — and the all-beer bloat — with these popular brew-based mixes.

click to enlarge Michelada. - martintoy via wikimedia commons
martintoy via wikimedia commons

Summer is traditionally given to beer around here. It’s hot, it’s humid, and nothing satisfies quite like an alcoholic beverage with some water in it.

But maybe you’re looking for a bit of a break from drinking all the beer. Let’s face it, even with the plethora of options available around the Bay area, beer can get old. Not to mention filling — this is the Food Issue, after all, and you’ve gotta leave room for some of the amazing culinary options our region has to offer. That doesn’t mean you need to forego local beer; we’re just suggesting that, if you’re a bit burned out on tasting your way through the available array of local craft beers, you can incorporate them in ways that beat the heat, and your thirst, while still showcasing the magical bond of malt and hops. Here's a list of five of the most common, popular and easy-to-make "beertails," all of which are refreshing and might make you see that bottle of IPA, stout or lager in a whole new way.

The Shandy
A Euro classic that Americans once relegated to the status of “that thing your mom drinks,” the shandy is basically a lighter choice of beer — pilsner, lager, pale ale, etc. — mixed with carbonated lemonade, ginger beer or (if you’re really into watering down your brew) ginger ale or Sprite. There are plenty of expertly brewed and mixed versions available, or the brazen can mix a crisp German-style brew with grapefruit soda to create their own “radler.” It’s delicious, and highly recommended if you’re working on the yard, but don’t expect to get hammered.

The Black Velvet
If you’re ever at a loss for a drunken discussion topic with your friends, or you’re feeling particularly ornery, it’s always fun to begin an argument regarding exactly what constitutes a Black Velvet. Some will claim it’s stout and ale (that’s a black & tan), and some will swear it’s stout and cider (technically a snakebite, see below), but many agree that a Black Velvet is actually thick stout cut with lively bubbles. Tastes great, less filling, indeed.

The Snakebite
Mike Patton of Faith No More once claimed it’s stout and port; most define the Snakebite as being made up of beer and cider. I personally got snakebit by a combination of stout and cider, but others have recommended a summery option that incorporates lager or even an IPA. As long as your beer is at least a little bitter, it should work with the sweetness and dryness that comes with a nicely crisp cider — many of which are made locally.

The Chelada/Michelada
Let’s settle this argument over the Latin beer-based version of the Bloody Mary once and for all. The chelada contains no tomato juice — it’s your favorite beer (preferably a light, crisp, sessionable option) with lime juice and a spiced rim, and hopefully some spices dropped into the mix as well. The michelada is the one with the tomato juice; occasionaly known north of the border as a bloody beer, it’s the one with the full-on Bloody Mary treatment, whether it’s Clamato or tomato sauce helped along by worcestershire, pickled veggies or nothing at all.

The Strip And Go Naked
For the young and/or impatient, this frat/sorority classic basically boils down to a party in a bowl, and is not for the faint of heart or liver: Combine 12 cans of your favorite local craft beer with a liter of vodka and two cans of cheap-ass frozen lemonade from concentrate in a large punchbowl/roadwork cooler/kiddie pool. Distribute liberally among a large group of thirsty friends, and DO NOT RE-UP. That’s just asking for trouble.

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