In case you were wondering, I drink wine and beer, too. I drink wine because you’ve gotta drink something with dinner and because my husband likes buying Groupons for various wine delivery services which keeps us well stocked in vino. I drink beer because one thing liquor won’t ever be is hoppy, and because I know a guy who works at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, who has hooked me up with some of the best beers of my life.

When I say I know a guy, I am talking about Andy Parker, one of my husband’s best friends and a brewer at Avery. When I say hooked me up, I mean that when Sean and I are in Boulder (twice in the past year, very lucky us!) Andy basically gives us free rein to sample our way through Avery’s tasting-room taps, plus the barrels in the back that haven’t even been brought out yet. And when I say the best beers of my life, I’m specifically referencing a coffee-infused beer and a guava-infused beer that had my eyes rolling into the back of my head and that, to my recollection, never made it out of Avery’s tasting room, as demand in that room alone outpaced the brewery’s production.

Beer cocktails have become quite the thing lately, and Sean had been encouraging me for a while to try coming up with one. Gah. I wasn’t sure how to do this. I just wasn’t sure how to establish a sort of flavor-profile link, a note in common between hops and hooch. That was, I wasn’t sure until Andy introduced us to Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale. Oak! Now we speaky my language.

Simply introduce an oak-aged ale to an American whiskey (which is always aged in charred oak) and I’m in business. Pick a cocktail recipe I’m well-familiar with (the Manhattan, obvs) to use as my jumping-off point and I’m golden.

Samael’s actually isn’t very hoppy at all — as the folks at Avery describe it on their site, it’s “super-caramelly” — so to play against that sweetness I picked a rye whiskey instead of a bourbon. (Yes, Maker’s Mark is also widely considered quite “caramelly,” but I felt that combining those two would either result in a way-too-sweet cocktail, or one that winds up tasting too one-dimensional, or both.)

If I make it to Boulder again this summer, I’ll report back with a confiscated-guava-beer cocktail.

The Samurai

2 ounces Michter’s U.S. 1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

1 ounce Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale

1/2 ounce Dubonnet

3 or 4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.

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