Introducing Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to give a warm round of applause to Owl Meat Gravy, who, for the forseeable future, will be writing a weekly column called Tipsy Tuesdays.
You may remember him from such columns as Funtastic Thursdays and various guest blogs while I was away. Now, please put your hands together, for OMG!
I don't like fruit in my beer. I don't want to taste a raspberry wheat beer, a peach ale or a prune IPA. Of course a lemon slice in a good wheat beer is fine, so I'm not exactly a purist. That brings us to today's topic – shandies.
A shandy is beer with ginger ale, ginger beer, lemonade, or other soft drink. It was originally called a shandygaff in England. There is a long tradition of mixing beer with fruit and other things there ...
A Lamb's Wool is made with hot ale, apple pulp, and spices whipped to give it a frothy pulpy head. Did I mention that it was hot? Shakespeare alluded to it in Midsummer Night's Dream.
A shandy sounds like something that might be refreshing in summer, so I decided to experiment. I used Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (pictured), which is very hoppy, heavy, and high in alcohol (7.25 percent). A good shandy would have to retain the complex flavor but lighten up the body and lower the alcohol. I mixed the soft drinks half and half with the beer.
Lemonade – Very good. Retains a lot of the hop taste. Complex and refreshing.
Sour mix and water (fake-anade) – Sour mix dominates in a bad way.
Ginger ale – Very good. The hot herbal scent and taste of the ginger combines with
the hops to create something like ginger beer.
Red Bull – The smell is nauseating. Tastes horrible. Followed by nausea and sneezing.
White Zinfandel – Smells like nothing. Tastes like bitter bad wine.
Coke – Smells like Coke. Tastes like very hoppy coke, which isn't a bad thing.
The following were 3:1 mixtures.
Sloe gin – Smells like Jolly Rancher candy. Tastes neither like sloe gin nor beer. It lingers in the back of your throat like cleaning fluid. It has a vile woody taste, like hoppy drain cleaner or varnish remover. Possibly the most disgusting flavor ever.
Sweet vermouth – Smells like hoppy vermouth. Tastes weird but intriguing. The herbs in Vermouth complement the hops. Leaves a nice bitter herb aftertaste like grilled arugula or radicchio.
Cranberry juice – Smells like fruity hoppy beer. The 1:1 mixture tastes like cranberry juice. The 3:1 mixture tastes like bad beer. Total failure.
Anisette – Smells like anisette. Tastes like beery anisette. Disgusting.
I took notes as I tasted these and I'm glad that I did. Tasting a variety of experiments even in small quantities leads to a bleary kind of drunkenness that isn't conducive to memory. Even still, the memory of the beer and sloe gin is seared into my brain like some kind of prison camp abuse.
To summarize: The lemonade, ginger ale and Coke were all good. The sweet vermouth was also excellent, but it's not a shandy. Try your own as the summer slinks into August. If your friends mock you, tell them T-Pain drinks beaucoup shandies when he's on a boat.
Have you tried anything like this? Come on, you can tell us. I won't mock you. After one experiment, I said to Misha the bartender, "Oh God, sloe gin and beer is disgusting." A complete stranger sitting near me said, "Well that's because you're an idiot."
Yes I am.
(Top photo by Getty Images. Bottom photo courtesy of Clipper City)