Beer Cocktails, or Beertails…an Emerging Trend!
By: Brian Roper
Beer cocktails, or beertails, are an emerging trend in cocktail lounges and bars throughout the U.S., and Arizona is no exception at offering something a bit different for the regular pint-swiller such as myself. So, while in Flagstaff this past weekend, I decided to switch things up from my usual visits to many of the town’s seven breweries.
I first hit up Annex Cocktail Lounge (50 S. San Francisco Street). This is always one of my regular stops when I head up north so I was aware of their popular shandies. Shandy or Radler styles are beers usually mixed with juice or soft drinks, originating in Central Europe at least a couple of centuries ago. Today, a number of European and American brewers offer canned versions, such as Leinenkugel’s and Stiegl.
Owner/bartender Nick suggested a shandy made with Mother Road Tower Station, vodka, and fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (in lieu of the usual lemon juice). These ingredients worked very well together as the grapefruit was the perfect complement to the citrusy, hoppy IPA. The addition of vodka toned down the carbonation while leaving a good level of effervescence. This is the perfect beverage to drink during our scorching Valley summers.
However, I was in Flagstaff during the first couple days of fall, and the temps were dropping like a lead balloon. I made my way 50 feet down San Francisco Street to Root Public House (101 S. San Francisco Street), where I had heard of another beertail off the menu (but perhaps not for long). After being greeted by Dave the owner, he introduced me to Peter, who created a drink that was more of a meal than the shandy but in an equally delicious way.
After admitting I’m not a big cocktail fan, and especially sweet drinks, Peter told me he had the perfect solution. It’s his own concoction of rye whiskey, fernet (the amaro spirit loved by all bartenders), and Four Peaks Oatmeal Stout. What arrived in a chalice glass took a few seconds to settle, just like a perfect pint of Guinness. But I was hooked after the first sip—silky, delicate, and not too strong or bitter. It had a light caramel aftertaste with chocolate notes. Whereas the shandy was light and refreshing, this yet-to-be-named drink would hold up well with a hearty dinner, and I certainly appreciated its warming quality as I stepped outside into the 45-degree chill.
With the ever-growing number of breweries popping up across our state, no doubt there’s a bartender experimenting in your neighborhood with local craft brews and a couple additional ingredients. Although I began my beer trek at Mother Road and ended at Dark Sky, the little change of pace in between was quite enjoyable.