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This month’s box, 99 Bottles, was created around three styles of beer; IPA, Belgian-style wheat ale (Saison, witbier or Weißbier) and lager. While the flavors which these beer styles contain can vary greatly from one brewery to another, we will give some typical flavors and keywords to look for when purchasing your beer, as well as suggest a few specific beers from breweries across Canada for each cocktail, so you can easily find a beer close to you that is perfect for the cocktails found within this month’s box.
IPA: An IPA with tropical and fruity hops varietals is desired here, such as Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin or Mosaic. Milkshake or Juicy IPA tend to have these flavours in spades, but be careful not to get a beer that is overly fruity or hazy. A subtle tropical flavour with a pleasant bitterness is what is desired.
- Four Winds IPA, Postmark Mosaic, Cabin Sunshine and Rain, Flying Monkeys Live Transmission Milkshake IPA, Les 3 Brasseurs Milkshake IPA
Weißbier or Saison: Wheat ales brewed in the traditional Belgian style are what to look for. Words like farmhouse, weiss, weiß, or witbier are desirable. Flavours such as banana, clove and bubblegum are good, while overly citrusy or sweet beers should be avoided, although light, floral citrus flavours should be present.
- Backroads Saison, 33 Acres Sunshine, Eighty-Eight Brewing Hologram White Ale, Bellwoods Farmhouse Classic, Dieu de Ciel Blanche du Paradis, Unibroue Blanche de Chamblay
Lager: Because this is a traditional Mexican drink, a light Mexican lager is recommended here. While it is easy (and perfectly acceptable) to use Mexican brands, such as Modelo Especial, Pacifico or Dos Equis, many Canadian craft breweries produce light, easy drinking lagers, with some even brewing cerveza style lager in small batch releases. Avoid dark or amber lagers, the lighter the beer is in flavour and colour, the better.
- Grandville Island Brewing Island Cerveza, Junction Local Option Lager, Brasseur de Montreal Chihuahua Mexicaine Lager.
To aid in your quest, check out justbeerapp.com or download their app. This site provides a comprehensive list of breweries and their beers, broken down into regions across the country, so you can look up your favorite brewery and see if they have beers that are right for the cocktails in this box.
Why Beer Cocktails?
For bartenders, there tends to be a certain level of jealousy towards beer. It seems so simple; you only have to crack the seal and you are introduced to a world of complex flavours, impeccable balance, and an overall refreshing drink, all within a simple container of a bottle or can. Meanwhile, behind the bar, sometimes you have to use 5-10 ingredients and a multitude of techniques to achieve the same result and you find yourself questioning what all that effort was for.
However, once a bartender investigates the world of craft brewing even a little, all that jealousy quickly fades away. It is an exact science; add too much or the wrong kind of hops, ferment or store at the wrong temperature, roast the barley or wheat for too long, and the beer goes from something amazing to something that goes straight down the drain. Not to mention the backbreaking labour of hauling 40 lbs bags of grain all the time.
We share the burden of having to pay very close attention to detail in order to achieve our mutually desired results, and it is for this reason that we decided to give a shout out to our Brothers and Sisters in Alcohol Arms with this box, 99 Bottles, which celebrates the wonderful flavours found within three distinct styles of beer, with a ton of unique and interesting ingredients that seek to blur lines and bring craft cocktails and craft beer together.
The perennial craft beer in North America is India Pale Ale or IPA, a heavily hopped style of beer which initially grew in popularity because it responded particularly well to barrel-aging on East India Trading Co. ships travelling between the UK and India. Its prevalence in North America stems from its hops-forward profile, as multiple hops varietals from all over the world can be blended together, allowing for almost unlimited flavour profiles, which is perfect for a small craft brewery striving for their own unique style. A balanced bitterness with notes of tropical fruits, citrus and pine are the mark of a good IPA, and what you should search for when selecting an IPA to compliment the KiwIPA Smoothie.
White beers are brewed from wheat instead of barley, making them great for summer, as their creamy, floral and citrus forward profile is often smooth, easy-drinking and quite refreshing, while the ‘farmhouse’ element of the wheat adds an earthy layer that provides body and substance. With a long history that is worth a read (wheat beers are among the first ever alcoholic beverage to be produced), their general development into what we now associate with wheat beer comes from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic (among other places). While there are many names associated with this style (saison, whitbier, weißbier, hefewizen, etc.) and all have their own unique characteristics, their flavours tend to be citrus forward, with zesty notes of warming spices like clove, ginger and cinnamon, more subtle fruit and floral flavours like banana or elderflower, and a musty, lingering finish, all of which will greatly benefit the Weißes Glas.
While beer cocktails seem relatively new, the original beer cocktail, the Michelada, has been a staple in Mexico since the 1960’s and relies on a good, light, easy-drinking lager as its base. While many people confuse the term ‘lager’ to mean the lightest beer on a beer menu, it is actually a complex and broad-ranging beer style which includes anything from the lighter styles, to red or amber, all the way to black lagers which are can be bold and heavy with complex profiles. For the Tio Crafty’s Michelada, we wanted to stay traditional, and so a lighter, cerveza-style lager is recommended, but the complex world of lagers is, in itself, definitely worth exploring if you haven’t already.
This box aims to celebrate all these distinct beer styles in their own way with a plethora of unique ingredients like pickled cactus, kiwi/sumac bitters, grapefruit/elderflower Barmalade, Big Mich OG michelada mix, along with a ton of other amazing elements to make your beer cocktails something unique, easy-drinking, and balanced, all the same things Canadian craft beer masters strive for themselves. So pick your favourite local brewery (or breweries), search out the right beer style for your cocktails, and enjoy the ‘simple’ beers which these wonderful producers have put so much work in to. Not sure where to start or what local offerings would work best? Check out the recommended list in the 99 bottles bio on our website to help track down beer that’s easy to find and right for the job.
Tio Crafty's Michelada
In Canada, most of us have poured a little Clamato into a can of lager for a ‘beer cocktail’ most would call a Red-eye. But in Mexico, they take their beer cocktails a little more seriously. What started as a simple drink; ice, beer, lime, salt and some hot sauce, the michelada has grown into a whole category of cocktail of its own, with innumerable variations found in every corner of Mexico. Whether we owe it’s rise to Don Michel and his ‘cold-one’s’ (chelada), or simply from it’s use as a ubiquitous term for beer cocktails (mi-chel-ada is Mexican slang for my-cold-beer), it is clear that this drink is firmly intrenched in Mexican cocktail culture. The Crafty’s version starts traditionally, using Big Mich OG sauce and dab salt rimmer, a classic michelada sauce and spice combo, but then cranks the flavour factor up a few notches with ingredients like pickled cactus, chamoy sauce and jalapeño for some serious kick. A great introduction into the versatility of the michelada, this cocktail will get your night of beer cocktails started off right.
Is your morning smoothie missing a certain kick? Are you tired of drinking healthy drinks but not getting a buzz? Well, the KiwIPA Smoothie might just be the thing you have been looking for. Marvel at its flavour, where all the wholesome ingredients of a kiwi smoothie meet the tropical hop elements of hoppy IPA. Be flabbergasted as your palette is tickled by both the sweetness of fruit-filled smoothie and the sour, bitter flavour of Ms. Better’s Kiwi/Sumac bitters. Gasp as you watch the pounds melt off because this drink is so darn healthy… wait, maybe we went too far… sorry everyone. But for real, this cocktail has some amazing flavour combinations going on, while also allowing for the wonderfully complex hopiness of a quality, craft-brewed IPA to shine through.
‘Den nagel auf den kauf treffen’ is a wonderful idiom to describe this delightfully light and crushable beer cocktail, which focuses on the complex yet approachable flavour profile of Belgian-style wheat ale (weißbier or saison). Instead of introducing flavours which would contrast the clove, banana and citrus, we at Crafty’s sought a way to emphasize these components. Whole dehydrated bananas and banana chips provide a burst of natural banana flavour, while clove and bay leaf linger on the tongue, giving a spicy finish. The lighter flavours of wheat beer are present as well, with Elderflower/Grapefruit Barmalade and a touch of fresh lemon adding bright, floral notes to an already citrus-forward beer style. If you weren’t sure what a weißbier tasted like before this cocktail, one sip of the Weißes Glas will really drive the point home.
Missed this box? Click here to order a one-time delivery from our shop!