Beer is wonderful. A drink so simple, it was one of civilization’s first (right after water, we think). Many beers are made with just 4 simple ingredients, barley, water, hops and yeast, while others contain additional flavor altering, composition changing ingredients. Since it is 2010, you can find a massive selection of beer styles, light to dark, mild to strong, at your local grocery store. For many, though, this selection is not enough. Perhaps beer alone is too pedantic for their complex taste buds. To these gentlemen, we offer some tried and true beer cocktails.

The Black and Tan

This classic beer on beer combo has been a favorite in British pubs for a long time (like over 100 years). The drink layers a stout or porter on top of a light lager/ale. Commonly, your beertender will make it with a Bass Lager base, finished with Guiness Draught. When pouring the Guiness, it is important you use the proper equipment to avoid premature combination of the layers. Lay an upside-down spoon across the top of the pint glass, and pour the beer over the rounded spoon. You want the beers to mix in your belly, not the glass.

Red Beer

For those that like a little spice in their beer (we prefer beer to wash down the spice, but whatev), consider the Red Beer. Recipes often call for a lager, but what they mean is a light beer; you could use a light ale as well. To make, fill a pint glass with 11 oz of your light beer (you will end up added a lot of flavor, so feel free to use a cheap beer) and drink remaining the ounce before continue. Recycle your empty and fill the rest of the glass with tomato juice. Finish it off with some Tabasco sauce. Voila, the poor man’s Bloody Mary.

Shandy/Shandygaff

With summer approaching, we could not leave the Shandy or Shandygaff off the list. This is a very refreshing drink when you are battling sweltering heat. There are a couple different methods to construct this mixture, but the constant is to start with 50% of, again, a light lager or maybe wheat beer. The other half is either carbonated lemonade (Shandy) or ginger ale (Shandygaff). Sometimes you’ll see a ginger beer used in place of ginger ale. Either way, real easy, equally mix the 2 ingredients and serve. Leave it to the British to name it “Shandy.”

Black Velvet

Feel like celebrating? A Black Velvet is similar to the Black and Tan, in so much as Guiness (or any stout) is balanced against a lighter, and in this case, bubblier brew. Instead of a pint glass, choose a champagne flute or Collins glass. Generally this drink is served with a fifty-fifty blend, Guiness on the ground floor. The B&T spoon method described above will keep the layers from mixing, if that is desired. Often, though, a bartender will deliver the drink after slowly stirring the liquids together, or maybe pouring them into the glass simultaneously. We like the combined method; toasting with bubbly Guiness is fun. Make sure the stout is cold; warm champagne is not fun.

Broadway

Coming to us from across the Pacific is a blend of beer and cola. Popular in Japan, the Broadway is 2 parts light beer, 1 part cola. Not sure who thought it was a good idea to desecrate a delicious brew with sugar water, but apparently it works. A pint glass is great to serve this concoction in, but take when pouring as the heavily carbonated soda/beer combo will fizz over under rough conditions.

Boilermaker

This drink was invented by guy who simply couldn’t decide between his manly beverages – beer or whiskey. When you saddle up to the bar and call out Boilermaker to the keep, he’ll likely return with a pint and a shot, beer and whiskey. At this point, you mix your own. If you are in college, drop the shot glass into the beer and chug it all down. If you have a mortgage, consider pouring the whiskey into the beer and commence standard sipping. The style is up to the individual. Different hard alcohols may be used, but whiskey is the choice of gentlemen.

Your Drink Here

Why not get creative and mix some beer yourself. You’ll be in good company. It is not uncommon to find commercial brewers combining the beers they make day in and day out, simply so they have something different to take home. Necessity is the mother of all invention. Careful when mixing, though, as a drink you find “awesome” after already consumed a case might not be as tasty when you make it for your buddies sober the next time. Cheers.