Beer cocktails are a time-honored tradition, but they’re not often done well. Let’s be honest, are Micheladas really that tasty? No. Thanks to a new mixer from Owl’s Brew, however, I’ve made a beer cocktail that is actually pretty darn good.
IPAs are of course an English invention, as I noted way, way back near the beginning of this very First Draughts column. So it makes sense to pair an IPA with an English mixer, like tea. Owl’s Brew makes a mixer that is English breakfast tea with lemon peel, lemon juice, and lime juice. It’s some creamy, tea-flavored, citrus goodness that really adds something to a quality IPA.
I’ve made several of these over the last couple weeks as part of my “research” for this column. They recommend that you go equal parts mixer and beer, which I find to be a little much, so I go one-third mix, two-thirds beer. It’s fantastic!
I’ve tried several IPAs with Owl’s Brew and my favorite ended up being from Cedar Creek Brewery, a small producer from Seven Points, Texas. As someone whose former life involved organizing for political campaigns, I have been to every corner of Texas, from the biggest cities to some of the smallest towns. The state has 254 counties. You read that right, 254 counties. Some of those have fewer people than you may have gone to college with, or attend church with each Sunday.
Seven Points, Texas is a town that encompasses a whole 2.5 square miles. My Austin neighborhood where I now live is bigger than that, but it in no way lessens what a town like that can produce. In this case, they produce wonderful beers.
Let Me Tell You About Central Market
Last week I was shopping with my wife at Central Market, one of the greatest grocery stores on the face of the Earth. I live in Austin, home of Whole Foods, the University of Texas, and our state capitol. It’s a vibrant town, a foodie town, and for many, many years Central Market has been a key fixture of that identity. A branch of H-E-B, (the world’s greatest grocery chain, as The Federalist co-founder Ben Domenech can attest), Central Market is the foodie’s Whole Foods.
The one closest to me is attached to a park, has a great playground, and even includes a stage for regular live music. At Central Market I ran into a nice young lady from Cedar Creek Brewery, who was giving samples of their beer and talking about the passion and love they put into every batch.
I love small, close-knit breweries. Whether it’s my friends at Austin Beerworks or these fine folks at Cedar Creek, when you have a beer produced by a small group of folks who really care about each and every batch, you can tell. It’s in every sip, and with their Dankosaurus IPA you can’t miss the blood, sweat, tears, and love that goes into every can.
The Right Beer for a Cocktail
For the best IPA cocktail it’s essential to get a beer that is not too powerful. It has to have the flavor and force of a solid IPA but can’t be overpowering. An “Imperial IPA” or a “Double IPA” might be too much to use with the Owl’s Brew. In this case the six-pack of Cedar Creek IPA I picked up was absolutely perfect. A solid IPA in its own right, the beer’s citrus and fruit flavors pair perfectly with a mixer like Owl’s Brew.
That’s actually where Owl’s Brew shines. It gives the fruit flavor in the IPA a real pop. The lemon and lime flavors built in the English breakfast tea base make it the perfect accompaniment for a solid but not too potent IPA. Your tastebuds experience the citrus and fruit flavors that are present in an IPA, and are amplified and improved by the quality mixer. Those hops, whether they’re from the good ‘ol U.S. of A. or abroad, tend to have a definite citrus punch, and the flavors in the Owl’s Brew make those flavors shine.
I love coffee stouts because they combine two of my favorite drinks. However, when I was a teenager and went to the 50th anniversary of D-Day, I spent several weeks drinking tea as my primary caffeinated morning beverage. If it’s the right tea, and by that I mean potent, English breakfast black tea, I love it. It’s a good alternative to the daily cup of coffee, and Owl’s Brew uses it as the perfect mixer with beer.
You probably don’t have easy access to Cedar Creek Brewery beer, but if you love an IPA that isn’t a palate-buster, then I highly recommend combining it with Owl’s Brew’s “The Classic” mixer. The tea and fruit flavors pair nicely with a good IPA and give you a chance to experience a beer cocktail in a whole new way that actually makes for a good drink.