The concept of craft beer cocktails is gaining interest nationwide. The precedent might have originated in Germany, many centuries ago, where Hefeweizen has a tradition of being served with slices of citrus fruit added to the glass after the pour. Berliner Weise has traditionally been served with a touch of raspberry syrup to soften harshness or served with a lemon slice on the rim of the glass to heighten tartness. Most often associated with Guinness, Black and Tan is a beer cocktail that usually is a half and half blend of pale beer (usually pale ale) with a dark beer (usually stout).
It should be noted that beer cocktails are different from beers brewed with fruits and vegetables and with additions of spices and herbs in the brewing process—Lambics, Sours, and Gose are traditionally brewed with these additions in the brewing process or as full-scale ingredients.
Shandy is a beer mixed with a soft drink, such as carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, apple juice or orange juice. The proportions of the two ingredients are adjusted to taste, starting with half-and-half and going one way or the other based on what best sits each person. For the past few years Triton has been bringing a thirst quenching “Beer Hammock Shandy” to the Phoenix Theatre Brew-Ha-Ha. In 2015 I reported the combination of Triton’s Belgian-style Wit with lemonade came in at 3.5% ABV and 16 IBU as a welcome respite on a very hot Brew-Ha-Ha day. [21st annual Phoenix theatre Brew-Ha-Ha is June 18, 3-7 p.m.
NUVO invited Triton co-founder David Waldman to fill us in about why Triton has embraced craft beer cocktails and what those of us new to the concept should expect at the April 28 fundraiser.
What drew Triton Brewing to the concept of beer cocktails? What bartender training is required for blending beer cocktails?
I personally have been pouring beer cocktails since the mid-1990’s. At the Philadelphia School of Bartending, my Mixologist Certification required learning more than a thousand drinks including the Boilermaker and Flaming Dr. Pepper, both beer cocktails. Living and bartending in South Carolina in the late 1990’s, there were a lot of US military service personnel who frequented my establishment, and who had been stationed in Europe . These folks regularly ordered Micheladas (Bloody Mary Mix with Warsteiner Lager), particularly around brunch.
Last year, Chev at Triton Tap in Broad Ripple started doing Micheladas with the Hatchblower Pepper IPA. At the same time, one of our brand ambassadors and an exceptionally skilled bartender, Marc Black, did a cocktail based on our Wit or Witout You Belgian-Style Wit. Ruth Flores, our events coordinator and an award-winning bartender, blends the scratch-made Michelada Mix that we use in the Tasting Room. It is perfectly spiced, fresh and a great compliment to the Hometown Hero Golden Ale we mix it with. We have very much enjoyed experimenting with our beers as the base of different cocktails.
I don’t believe that it requires a Mixologist Certification or even bartending experience to make beer cocktails. If you can read a recipe, you can duplicate someone else’s cocktail recipe. The beauty of craft cocktail is that it is an opportunity to play with new flavors and ingredients like aromatics, fruit juices, fruits, sodas, etc.
We plan to make our cocktail recipes available. They are reasonably simple so it’s easy to duplicate them.
What is your definition of a beer cocktail?
We are hardly the craft cocktail police. A craft cocktail by our definition is pretty broad. Our Director of Sales, Mike “The Chev” Chevigny has been blending Triton Beers for years. This is probably the most basic type of craft cocktail. Sure, Shandy is a beer cocktail, why not? It is the next step above blending the beers. A Cape Codder (Vodka and cranberry) is a cocktail. Shandy is just a different fruit juice or soda mixed with beer. Presto! Beer cocktail! Certainly radlers and similar beer and soda blends would also fit the category. Thy sky is the limit from there!
What are the preferred brands for Triton’s beer cocktails?
We have chosen four brands for four cocktails including, Hometown Hero Golden Ale, Wit or Witout You Belgian-Style Wit, Deadeye Stout and Axl Gose.
What food pairings do you look for with Triton beer cocktails?
With the broad variety of flavor profiles that we are doing with craft cocktails, the pairings are quite diverse. With the Michelada, a wide variety of breakfast or brunch-type foods would pair very well. Egg-based dishes tend to pair exceptionally well with tomato based beverages. With the Soulful Ginger’s flavor profile, choices like Jamaican food (jerk chicken or beef patties) or even sweet barbecue. The Chai Latte Deadeye Stout cocktail pairs nicely with plain beef jerkey, brie, toasted filberts or popcorn. Even milk chocolate. The Muddled Blueberry & Basil Axl Gose cocktail would pair well with soft cheeses, fruit, pork belly and other fatty meats.
What specialty Triton beer cocktails are you blending for the April 28 event?
On April 28th, for the Dining Out for Life Event, we are doing four different craft cocktails featuring four different Triton Beers. We are doing our “Michelada” with the Hometown Hero Golden Ale cocktail, the Soulful Ginger with the Wit or Witout You Belgian-Style Wit cocktail, The Chai Latte Deadeye Stout cocktail and a Muddled Blueberry & Basil Axl Gose Cocktail. We wanted to experiment with a wide variety of flavors.
What flavor profiles and aromas should patrons expect to discern with Triton beer cocktails?
Our flavor profiles are all very different, based on the cocktail. The Michelada is
an exceptionally well-balanced, tomato-based cocktail, reminiscent of a Bloody Mary. The Soulful Ginger features nice, crisp, ginger and fresh aromatic notes. The Chai Latte Deadeye cocktail has beautiful, sweet, earthy and spicy flavors. The Muddled Blueberry & Basil Axl is tart, sweet, fresh, aromatic and great on a warm day.
What else should NUVO readers know about Triton’s fund raising event on April 28?
On Thursday, April 28, Triton is hosting Dining Out For Life to benefit the Damien Center. From 3-10 p.m. we will be featuring our four craft cocktails, we will be tapping this year’s Wit or Witout You Belgian-Style Wit and we will be tapping about five gallons of cask-conditioned Deadeye Stout fermented with raspberries. We will also be hosting a Jenga Tournament with prizes. 25 percent of the retail receipts will be donated to the Damien Center to help fight HIV/AIDS. KG Slider Station will be vending 4:30-9 p.m. For more information, see us at tritonbrewing.com
Triton Brewing Co.
5764 Wheeler Road, 317-735-2706, tritonbrewing.com
Craft Beer Cocktails are in the spotlight at Triton Brewing Company’s fund raising event with Dining Out for Life. April 28, at the Triton Brewery, 25 percent of sales between 3-10 p.m. will be donated to the Damien Center, Indiana's AIDS service organization.