September 10, 2010

The Blend Trend

Has anyone had the King James recently? Or how about the Frambusto? Raspberry Milk Stout? How about a LiLo?  Are these new local craft beers in the Valley? Well.  Yes and No.

These new beer flavors are a result of some creative beer blending by local craft breweries and beer bars. Recently, the Hungry Monk in Chandler and Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe, posted blended beers on their menus and it's a trend we'd like to see further explored.
Blending beers has a history, perhaps, as long as brewing itself. In the days before refrigeration beer was delivered to the pub by the brewery and blended in the cellar. Old beer was blended with new beer to create a house character and to mitigate stale and sour flavors. In the Belgian lambic tradition, gueuze is still made with a blend of 1 year old with 2 and 3 year old lambic.

Today, beer is blended by the macro breweries to maintain consistent flavor profiles of established products. Craft breweries also blend, but more often than not, it is in the spirit of experimentation, as part of a barrel aging program or as a result of a collaborative effort between breweries. Famously, Avery and Russian River Brewing blended their versions of "Salvation" to avoid a legal dispute. The result, "Collaboration not Litigation" has been available in bottles for some time in the Phoenix market.

In the pubs and beer bars, most people are familiar with the venerable Black and Tan which is Guinness Stout and Bass. There are also various blends of beer and non-alcoholic drinks called shandy, the most famous of which is the radler which combines beer and lemonade.  A beer cocktail is a combination of beer and either liquor, champagne, cider  or mead. Beer cocktails can be as lowbrow as an Irish Car Bomb or as pinkie lifting as a Peroni and Campari.

Still, there is an uneasiness with "tampering" with craft beer. After all, why question the brewer, right? The brewer's intent is a principal that servers of craft beer and craft beer fanatics have often held dear.

Will It Blend?
The truth is blended craft beers have always been a part of the experimentation inherent in craft brewing and blended beers have always been available in Phoenix bars, though it wasn't always common knowledge.  An off-the-menu favorite for regulars at Papago Brewing is the Frambusto- Papago's medal-winning El Robusto Porter topped with Lindemann's Framboise. It's a perfect combination of chocolate roast and raspberry. Over at The Main Ingredient,  secret combo is Four Peaks Hop Knot blended with Great Divide Raspberry Ale- a surprising hoppy, yet subtly fruity summer refresher.  One could also blend the Raspberry with Sonoran Inebriator Stout.

One of the finest beer cocktails you can have if you are fortunate to know a professional brewer or homebrewer is a Hot Scotchy which is 2 fingers of Scotch mixed with a cup of hot wort collected from the first runnings off a mash tun.

What about that Lilo?  It's a drink I dreamed up they day the judge threw Lindsay Lohan in the county lockup. The Draw 10 was happy to pour it for me. It's a Kiltlifter topped off with Coke and it was an oddly refreshing pick-me-up. Take that Redbull and Vodka!

The Hungry Monk offers these blended beers:
  • King James- SanTan Epicenter IPA & Devils Ale
  • Dead Bastard- Arrogant Bastard & Dead Guy
  • Skirt Chaser- Kiltlifter & Hop Knot

Sleepy Dog has these beer cocktails on their regular menu:
  • Apple Lager- Apple Cider/Sleepy Dog Lager
  • Red Velvet- Raspberry Mead/Leg Humper Hefeweizen
  • Raspberry Milk Stout- Raspberry Mead/Wet Snout Milk Stout
Have you had any blended beer or beer cocktail you'd like tell us about?


  1. That's an easy one. One part Dogfish Head Fort and one part New Glarus Raspberry Tart. (Raspberry seems to be a common blending theme.) The heat of the Fort is cut by the sweetness of the Tart. Very tasty.

  2. That's a nice problem to have Barry. Do you remember Ron at Papago pairing Fort with Elsie's?

    Don't recall what he called it.

  3. I went to Hungry Monk for lunch today and they have a new blend on the menu: J-Lo. It was SanTan Epicenter blended with Deschutes Black Butte Porter.

  4. We'll be doing a follow up on this as we have more information about blends by Spitfire Grill and by Jess over at Papago Brewing.

    We might even do a Blend Tweet Up!