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I asked a bartender what she was drinking near the end of her shift. She said a blend. Of Bear Republic's Racer 5 IPA and North Coast's Le Merle (a Belgian Saison).

I tried it and it was great. I already liked Le Merle except it had a bit too much of the Belgian kick, and I never liked Racer 5 at all, but together somehow the attributes I didn't like canceled out or masked one another.

At the risk of heresy, I wonder if mixing beers is or was ever a (semi-)official thing anywhere. I've heard wine blends mostly exist as a product of leftover grapes, so their justification doesn't apply to beer. Still, if the taste is great, why not have beer blends? With the distinct taste variations of hops alone, I wouldn't be surprised if great combinations could be found.

So, to put succinctly: Are beer blends being served anywhere?

  • Uh, black and tan? – paparazzo Dec 31 '15 at 23:37
  • @Frisbee - Never heard of it! Where are you from? – Andrew Cheong Jan 2 '16 at 2:10
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    Yes, but I only saw United States. Even read some of your top posts on Travel.SE. Anyway, just being friendly here, no need to be rude. – Andrew Cheong Jan 2 '16 at 14:09
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    Firestone Walker does quite a bit of blending of their beers – Wayne In Yak May 11 '16 at 13:27
8

There are beer blends served in England and Scotland although it tends to be the older drinkers.

Mild and Bitter is one where a half pint of bitter is mixed with a half of mild.

Brown and Bitter is half of bitter with a brown ale such as Mann's.

A common Scottish blend is the Black and Tan which is Guinness and IPA/Heavy - this can also be made a Sweet Black and Tan by using sweet stout and IPA.

Before Fullers shut Gales of Horndean down they produced a bottled Christmas ale which was a mix of their HSB premium bitter and their 555 mild with spice.

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    In the US, Yuengling does a bottled black and tan. It started when bars would make a 50/50 blend of the porter and the Lord Chesterfield Ale. Yuengling later turned it into a product which is 60/40 porter and Premium beer. – Dave Dec 7 '15 at 12:38
  • Ah, this does remind me that while traveling in Asia it was very common to find breweries that serve a standard (or "gold" or "light" or "blond" or "yellow") beer, and a "black" or "dark" beer, usually lagers, as well as a blend of the two. (Many of the "Asian" breweries however were actually German or Czech.) Examples: Sapporo Yebisu (Japan), Lion Brewing (Vietnam, but German), Gammer Beer (Vietnam, but Czech), Koryo Hotel (North Korea). I was thinking more of non-lager, U.S. styles however. But these are all interestng blends you mention. – Andrew Cheong Dec 7 '15 at 14:54
4

According to Graham Wheeler's article on the history of porter (which I cannot currently locate), London-style porter was originally a mixed-on-demand blend of mild and sour brown ales. "Butt porter" was a later version, blended at the brewery so it could be shipped in a single keg ("butt.")

EDIT: Found it! The article was reposted in parts to the Homebrew Digest mailing list in 1996 & 1997 by Rob Moline.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Hope that's of interest. Cheers!

2

Some breweries do release blends from time to time. I recently picked up a bottle of Siren Cotteridge Wines 20th Anniversary, which is a blend of a few different beers.

1

Sam Adams has released special blends of beers as has Firestone Walker. I am sure other breweries have done special blends too.

And lets not forget Mississippi Mud.

  • I didn't know that, thanks. It reminded me that Alesmith commonly blends their barrel-aged stouts, e.g. Reforged (a Scotch Ale, their Speedway, and a Barley wine). I should have focused my question on blends including IPAs... – Andrew Cheong Dec 7 '15 at 14:58
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In addition to blending different beers (like, blending an stout with an IPA, getting something like a black IPA), it's important to mention that almost all barrel aged beers are blends, because of the very nature of barrel aging.

When I mention barrel aged beers, I'm not just referring to the recent barrel aged styles which have been created by the american craft beer scene, but also to more traditional ones like the Belgian ones: lambic, flanders red and oud bruin.

Blending is crucial to beverages aged on barrels (even whisky or wine), because you never get a regular result from them. It depends heavily on the barrel itself (remember, it's wood, a biological element), the storage conditions of each of them (temperature, for example, which varies depending on the position of it in the warehouse) and some other random factors. So, the only way to achieve a consistent and reproducible product is blending, trying to fuse all those different characteristics in the right proportion, giving you an expected final product. In this process, is even common having to dump some barrels, which will not make it on the final proportion (maybe, let's say, you have too many very sour barrels, and you don't want your beer to be so that sour).

Additionally, another common practice is to blend aged beer with the young (not aged) version of it. Beers like Rodenbach, for example, are like this (Rodenbach Grand Cru has 2/3 of aged beer with 1/3 of fresh beer). Dogfish's Burton Barton is a blend of wood-aged and fresh IPA, as well.

So, blending beer is not exactly a new thing. I understand that your question was about blending different styles of beers, which is still less common, probably because the brewers will try to do that from the beginning, with the ingredients, but is not an heresy. We should try doing this more often, I dare to say.

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Evil Twin Yin & Yang is one popular blend. They are brewed and sold separately as Evil Twin Yin and Evil Twin Yang. There is also the blend that is bottled and sold, Evil Twin Yin & Yang, which is 1/3 stout (Yin) and 2/3 double IPA (Yang). I've also been to bars that have both the Yin and Yang on tap, and blend them for you in house.

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I have been to two places that had beer blend (or beer "cocktail") menus: Cafe Belge (now defunct I think), a small restaurant chain in Kent, UK, and a pub in Montreal. The former had hundreds of Belgian beers and one blend of note was Blackforest Gateau, a mix of a chocolate beer and either Mort Subite cherry or Lindeman's Cherry Kriek. The latter place served their own microbrews, with a dash of something non-alcoholic. Mine was their regular ale (an IPA or golden ale)with whisky and maple syrup. A suitable mix to remind me of Canada.

0

Slightly OT but my Dad used to drink what he called a "Poor mans black velvet". Half Guiness, Half cider

  • Half lager, half cider is also drunk - called snakebite – user23614 Dec 21 '15 at 15:24

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