By Adam McDowell
Many people never acquire the taste for beer…and many never will. If you’re in that category, you might not have been introduced to beer in the right way. Perhaps, we can persuade you to give it one last chance.
There’s a whole universe of beers that emphasize sweeter and spicier flavours. Europeans have adopted plenty of simple beer mixtures to make the suds go down a bit easier and all of them can be made at home.
Fruit and wheat beers
If you want to retreat from bitter hops and run into the welcoming arms of sweetness, fruit beers are probably the easiest way to go. They’re especially popular in Belgium. The best-known example in Canada would be the strawberry flavour from Früli. On the domestic front, the popular Pump House Blueberry Ale is starting to be seen outside of its native New Brunswick; keep your eyes peeled for it.
Wheat beers, meanwhile, often brim with aromas of clove, fruit (especially banana) and bubblegum, which is typically the natural result of the brewing process. These flavours are not the result of artificial additives. To see what we mean, you could try Granville Island Brewing Robson Street Hefeweizen, from British Columbia.
This beer mixture comes from Germany, where gummy bears are so popular they’re practically the national animal, as you’ll know if you’ve ever visited. Mix Red Bull and lager (a nice, dry pilsner will do) in whatever proportion suits your tastes — try 50:50 to start with — and get ready for a jolt. We can’t guarantee this concoction will tickle everyone’s palate but it’s worth a try if you need a boost – and a beer – at the same time.
Here’s another beer-plus-caffeine mixture to add a little extra perk to your beer chillout moment. Believe it or not, many people swear by a mixture of cola and beer. If you’re game to try it, we suggest using a malty, dark wheat beer or dark lager. You could try Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel from Bavaria — which is much easier to drink than it is to spell — or Waterloo Dark from Ontario.
This is yet another beer mixture from Germany, a twist on the familiar shandy or radler. Those are usually a mixture of pale lager and lemon-lime pop, or sometimes grapefruit. Sounds tasty, right? Well, duck pond is raspberry-flavoured lemonade plus dark beer. This may give you a less refreshing result overall than your summer shandy but it’s more flavourful, and it’s a terrific drink for the cooler months. Beer geeks drink dark beer in the fall and winter, so why not follow their lead?
Oh, those zany Germans again. Evidently some people drink wurstwasser, meaning “sausage water,” as another twist on shandy or radler. Sausage water is orange pop and beer, which certainly seems a little more adventuresome. And it can’t be any less appealing than the name… can it?
Ah, the elegant option. You’ll encounter other drinks called black velvet, but the classic is simply a Champagne flute filled halfway with sparkling wine and then topped off with stout. Guinness might be your first choice but there are lots of delicious stouts out there — we’re especially fond of Le Sang D’Encre from Quebec. For the sparkling wine, use Champagne if that’s in your budget. Otherwise, perhaps a nice, dry Canadian, French or Spanish bubbly? Whatever you’re mixing, you’ll see why they named this sensual drink after velvet when the smooth, foamy mixture hits your tongue.