2 Beer Guys Blog

Welcome to the 2 Beer Guys Blog! Here, you will be able to read our stories and adventures as we travel through the world of craft beer.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Is mixing your beer the new fad?

I saw this article below and thought... say it's not so.... Who's mixing there beer? Do you get a better beer if you mix a corona with a blue moon? Could you call that a Blue Corona or a Corona moon?

Sure, there's the famous black and tan, but would you order it if it didn't split the glass in half? NO, when I order one and it's all mixed together, I am rather annoyed.

If you would like to read more about this so call "fad" please continue below.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

Brewing up new blends

As craft beer-makers expand offerings, consumers find new ways to enjoy them, but the mixing trend comes with mixed feelings

By Mary Ellen Podmolik | Special to the Tribune
November 3, 2007

For the better part of a year, Jim Klem has played the part of a chemist, searching out the right balance of ingredients to come up with a satisfying beer.

His own recipes, yes. His own beer, no. The Waukegan resident doesn't brew beer. He drinks it, and he's looking for something different by mixing beers together.

Partaking in a thirst quencher and a growing trend, Klem will order two different bottles of beer, two glasses at a bar and do the proportioning himself. At liquor stores, faced with a dizzying selection of craft beers that continues to expand, he'll buy two six-packs, try the beer on its own and then start mixing.

Since his experiments began, his spending on beer has doubled and, he admits, only half of his combinations are drinkable. "I'm learning that you don't mix an ale with a lager," Klem said. "I've learned that most flavored beers don't mix well with others. I've learned that you only mix a few ounces of each."

Klem's activity is part of a fad picking up steam in the craft beer industry: the mixing of at least two individual beers to create a new flavor. This isn't the beer cocktail, made popular several years ago when drinkers started combining beer with non-alcoholic ingredients. This is the mixing of just two ingredients -- beer and beer -- and it's viewed as a potent opportunity to boost craft brewers' bottom lines

At the same time consumers and bartenders are mixing beers themselves to create personalized flavors, breweries are working internally or with one another to market blended beers that capture the best flavors of each.

Two small breweries, Avery Brewing Co. in Colorado and Russian River Brewing of California, this year combined and bottled their Belgian-style ales that coincidentally were both named Salvation. The resulting beer, named Collaboration Not Litigation Ale, was recommended on beer Web sites, and the brewers had to make three times as much as they had expected because of demand.

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., after hearing for a decade that customers were mixing its beers, introduced a marketing campaign at Labor Day with the tag line "What's your mix?" It includes beer coasters with recipes and a Web site for drinkers to post combinations. So far, more than 190 different submissions are on the site.

"It will create energy in our system and talk value at the bar," said Dick Leinenkugel, vice president of sales and marketing for the Miller-owned brewer. "I have no doubt it will help us sell more beer.

"There are certainly beer purists, but you listen to what the consumer is saying and doing. It's all about meeting trends," said Leinenkugel, whose favorite is a glass filled with seven-eighths Sunset Wheat and one-eighth Berry Weiss.

The efforts aren't a case of craft brewers looking to salvage sales but rather to capitalize on the good times. Craft beers recorded double-digit sales gains last year, regardless of where they were sold, and sales of craft beers are expected to top $500 million in supermarkets alone this year, according to data supplied by Information Resources to the Brewers Association, a trade group for craft brewers.

Outsiders might think that small-batch breweries committed to their suds would frown on such mixing behavior. But generally, brewers understand the quest for the perfect palate-quencher and frankly, they know they don't have the scale to satisfy everyone's taste buds.

Blending is hardly new

Meanwhile, mixers simply point to the black and tan as the granddaddy of all beer combinations. That mix, of Guinness Draught poured over the back of a spoon into Bass or Harp lager, dates back more than 100 years.

"The craft brew movement has been around for a couple decades now and these guys are pushing the envelope, looking for the next big thing," said John Hansell, publisher and editor of Malt Advocate. "On the consumer end, they like to have fun and play around. These are enthusiastic, passionate consumers who want to try new things."

And their combinations are getting some colorful names, which vary depending on the bar and location. There's Scottish Schwinn, a mix of Belhaven Scottish Ale and New Belgium Fat Tire; Greatness, a combination of Lost Coast Great White & Guinness Stout; and one of Klem's personal recipes, Darktoberfest, combining two varieties of Leinenkugel.

Goose Island Beer Co., which has 17 beers on tap, does mix for its patrons upon request and has had casual discussions about how much they should promote the practice. "I can see both sides of the debate," said Will Turner, pub brewer. "Sometimes it does make me sad when you put out a world-class beer and people are mixing it with something else."

At Palmer Place in La Grange, manager Steve Palmer increasingly sees people trying new combinations, and it's just fine by him because the trend is causing the restaurant to "absolutely" sell more beer, he said. Customers who mix two different price grades of beer are charged the higher price.

DeKalb resident Mike Ryan knows he's helping increase craft beer sales; it was a liquor store clerk that got him mixing, and he admits he and his wife have gotten "kind of nutty" about it. But he tries to be judicious, making sure the beers he buys are ones he'd drink on their own merits, just in case the mix turns into a mess.

With the number of beers on the market, the creative combinations are virtually infinite, Ryan said.

That has a master brewer like Russian River's Vinnie Cilurzo mildly concerned. "I'm all right with that but I don't want them taking something like Corona and putting it in my beer," he said.

Link to original article


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