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History of Beer Cocktails


The Beer Cocktail to some may seem like a newfangled hipster fad that has oozed out of the brains of the bar and restaurant underground. It may surprise you to find out that it is actually making a comeback and moreover it is very, very American.

While beer cocktails were not invented in America, not by a long shot, but they did ingrain themselves into the fabric of drinking culture here in the States during the colonial era. To understand these concoctions, we need to look at the history of the beer blend.

When Were Beer Cocktails Invented?

For over a millennium people have mixed things into their beer. The earliest proof was found in King Midas’ tomb and it dated back to 750BC.  Throughout history, "stuff" was mixed into beer usually to cut through harsh flavors. The word “stuff’ is intentional because we literally used everything we could think of. Why? Why would we put things like honey, rosemary and grapes, or some more creative things like bog myrtle, grated Poppy seeds or red hot chunks of granite? We were not always so good at brewing, so beer was mixed with other stuff to cut through the sweet, sour, or infected flavors. But you know what? It beat the alternative of dying of dysentery!

Sorry Dwayne, Should’ve drank your beer.

What Was the First Beer Cockail?

King Midas’ Brew was a mix of mead, wine and a primitive beer (no hops yet) by the way.

Beer Cocktails in America

By the time beer cocktails got to the Americas it was a fairly well established and popular art. America was in a very interesting place when it came to booze. The new world was giving rise to new drinks. Rum had thundered into the scene, America had become a top producer of fine cider (due to the lack of local hops) and there was plenty of ale and wine coming off the British and other European ships.

The beer made stateside was not the same quality as the German or British brews, but became popular due to a small conflict in the early 1700s (you may have heard of it). Beer-based cocktails really roared into the local drinking holes around then. Being American made, they had really awesome names like Rattle-Skull that was a mix of dark beer, rum, lime juice, and nutmeg (almost a third rum I might add) or Bombo, Mimbo, Syllabub, and one of the more popular drinks, a Flip. A Flip consistent of a mixture of beer, sugar, rum, and eggs served hot. Sailors loved 'em.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, beer cocktails were popular in the United States and Europe, often being served as an after-dinner drink or as a way to use up leftover beer.

Fast-forward about 300 years to today, and raise your Apple Beermosa (12 oz. non-hoppy beer with 12 oz apple cider) to rejoyce the beer cocktail's rebirth!

Beerita Beer Margarita Cocktail

What Are the Most Popular Beer Cocktails?

  • Shandy: beer and lemonade
  • Michelada: beer, lime juice, tomato juice or Clamato juice, hot sauce, salt
  • Radler: beer and fruit juice or fruit-flavored soda
  • Beerita: beer, tequila, limeaide concentrate, salt
  • Beermosa: beer, orange juice
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