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Beer / liquor combinations

I am just curious to know if anyone has played around with these much. Not looking for any elaborate beer cocktails, just a splash or more of something that enhances the taste of a beer.

I broke open a pale ale my friend brewed for his wedding, and I thought it was a little one-dimensional with too much hops and very little malt to balance them. So for the second half of the bottle I added just a splash of aperol and it was quite good.

Other combinations I have tried and worked - Scotch ale and Islay Scotch, Sierra Nevada celebration IPA and coffee liqueur, SN IPA and Firefly sweet tea bourbon, Smuttynose robust porter and coconut syrup (after seeing mention of Maui Brewing's coconut porter.)

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    1. re: hawkeyeui93

      I think I used the cheap one I have a small bottle of, Copa de Oro - now that I have found a cheap source for Kahlua I won't buy the off brands anymore because kahlua is much better (but Trader Vic's Kona Coffee liqueur is even better, but hard to find.)

      1. re: ncyankee101

        Two coffee liqueurs that are worth checking out are Galliano's Ristretto and Coffee Heering (from the same Danish producers of Cherry Heering). Both have a darker roast coffee flavor that is less syrup tasting. Kahlua is a solid one but it is more coffee-like than pure coffee at times.

        1. re: ncyankee101

          I know you're not a fan of Patron, but someone gave me a bottle of Patron XO Coffee Liqueur and I found it to be decent (and a change of pace from Kahlua) ...

      2. Many of the Italian bitter liqueurs (amaros) will add some richness and complexity to a beer. Averna will add some nice caramel notes, Cynar some earthier ones, or Ramazotti some orange and cola notes.

        Also, two French ones come to mind: Amer Picon is a classic one especially when mixing with pale beers like Czech pilsners. And Benedictine for some dark herbal notes that might make an ale come to life.

        Also, apricot liqueur goes great with Miller High Life and probably similar.


        5 Replies
        1. re: yarm

          This post must be some sort of Chow record for most number of thought-provoking flavor combination per word.

          1. re: yarm

            I am proud to say I have never had a bottle of Miller High Life in my house lol.

            1. re: ncyankee101

              I had the same attitude for a while until I needed some to make a pair of drinks over the summer for the beer-themed Mixology Monday I was hosting. The ones that were left over were the best thing after doing a lot manual labor and I can see why they are a bartender's go-to post-shift beer.

              Those two drinks were written up here if you're curious: http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/20...

              1. re: yarm

                If I needed something easy to drink and refreshing after physical labor it would be a sam adams light, or a decent hefeweizen, or a belgian wit. I have only had MHL once, it was a long time ago but I remember thinking "never again" LOL. It was probably skunked like most beers in clear bottles. I just looked it up on ratebeer, it's percentile is 1 overall and 9 within pale lagers (which is higher than Bud at 0/3.)

                Speaking of skunky beer - you want to hear something sad? My friend went to Seibel Institute and when he was studying over in Munich toured some Euro breweries and go to talk to the people who run them. The reason they put their US beers in green bottles is because they want to get that skunky taste, because that is what most Americans think is the "import" taste.

            2. A pint of Guinness poured over Frangelico is a nice treat.

              3 Replies
              1. re: pete k

                Good idea, I am not a fan of Guinness but have a lot of other stouts in my cellar which might have gotten old and a little soy saucy. I don't have Frangelico but do have Nocino Walnut liquor and Trader Vic's macadamia liquor, either of which should work.

                1. re: ncyankee101

                  You may also consider a layer of Guinness and champagne to make a black velvet, or you can sub the champagne for cider.

                  1. re: pete k

                    I used to take all my employees out in December for black velvet made with Dom Perignon and Guinness. I've also made beer milkshakes (!), Guinness and condensed milk chilled is good too - I think you could sneak in something like amaretto or Baileys or B&B with the guinness and condensed milk. Mix and chill and have a sweet alcoholic dessert drink.

              2. Bud Light mixed with Guiness Stout Pub Draft

                3 Replies
                1. re: creamsherry

                  Ok neither of those is a liquor, and neither of those will likely ever be found in my house. I used to drink Guinness, before I found better stouts - the version we get here in the US is not good.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    I was having trouble figuring out an answer for this thread, but since I was enjoying it I shot the only ammo I had: what my buddy's father used to drink...lol

                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      I did have a buddy that loved a shot of aftershock with his bud bar bottle, but he would shoot a shot before drinking each beer. he never mixed them like AKA a boilermaker

                  2. Also a cult hit here in Boston is Bud Light Lime (12 oz or so) with St Germain (1 1/2 oz) called the Imperial Royale. While BLL is a sucky beer with "natural lime... flavor" and a lot of St. Germain in anything can be gross, the two cancel out each other's negative points and make something rather drinkable. Plus, it got rid of the BLL can we had in our fridge from a project creating the Pegu Clubweiser (recipe upon request).


                    1. Ok tonights experiment was with a bottle of Burton baton by Dogfish head - this is a beer that I LOVED the first year it came out, and rushed out to buy 4 4-packs the second year it was released - and it was a completely blown batch, too much yeast and hops.( I got a free tweed DFH cap and $50 worth of undrinkable beer when I complained to the company and got this explanation).

                      I was hoping that the hops would have faded a bit over the years - I think I bought this in spring 2007 - but it still tastes terrible. So I added a splash of the following:

                      Ramazzotti - didn't help much at all, so I also added some Aperol - this worked well.

                      Firefly sweet tea bourbon - this worked well, seems to be a good go-to.

                      Licor 43 - this didn't change the flavor much (other than some vanilla) but did definitely sweeten it and make it palatable. I probably added a little more than I would have preferred but it was the last 1/3 of the bottle and I didn't want to open another one at this time.

                      1. Not sure if anyone is still paying attention to this or not, but I will just keep babbling on as though someone is.

                        Tonight's "salvage" is Twisted tea hard iced tea. Something gave me the urge to buy a 6 of this at some point last year, it's not the worst thing I have ever had but definitely something I hope I never decide to buy again. Tastes kind of like alcoholic Snapple. (I hate Snapple.)

                        First try - cheap bourbon (Rebel yell, had to try this for $10 a bottle, you get what you pay for, tastes like watered-down real Bourbon.) This combination actually wasn't bad, not as good as Firefly's sweet tea bourbon but pretty decent.

                        Next try - gin. Not so good, but a splash of aperol once again saved the day, love that stuff.

                        last of it - tried a little Ramazzotti, helped a little but not quite enough. Tried a little Stirrings Blood Orange bitters and it turned out quite good. I find the Stirrings not really a genuine "bitters" but closer to an amaro, SBO and Aperol are somewhat similar, with the Stirrings a little brighter and more citrusy orange, . At the price of $6 for a 12 oz bottle I will be looking for more of this when my bottle is gone.

                        I also decided to try a very old bottle of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, from the 07-08 winter. I expected it to have gone over to soy sauce but it wasn't too bad, did have some cardboard I guess the flavor is, similar to the Anchor Christmas ale that my friend who is a professional brewer described that way. Still pretty drinkable though for a 4 yr old stout not known for ageing.

                        I drank some if it unadulerated, then added a little of the cheap coffee liqueur again. It worked well, sweetening and mellowing out the off tastes. When I say a little, I am not measuring but it is maybe 1/3-1/2 oz to 4-5 oz of beer.

                        The last 1/3 or so of the bottle I added a spalsh of Rebel Yell - made it taste boozy but didn't help the rough flavors in the beer. So I opened the second bottle of Evan Williams Honey Liqueur I regrettably bought 2 bottles of for $4 each after mail-in rebate. A splash of this made it more palatable but not as much as the coffee liqueur.

                        1. Years ago, a well-meaning client sent me a case of Asahi Super Dry in cans. The beer is too bland and has no body or bitterness. However, I happened to have a few bottles of Campari. I'd pour out a can into a large glass, and add a shot of Campari. It would give it a rich, red hue and add extra sweetness plus bitterness. Didn't turn it into real beer, but it did make an interesting cocktail.

                          1. I am shocked, SHOCKED I say, that no one has mentioned the Flaming Dr. Pepper or its less flamable sister, the not-flaming Dr. Pepper. Take a pint glass and fill it half way with a light, barely drinkable at 32 degrees, American pilsner "style" draft beer (bottled will do in a pinch, as will cans). Take a shot glass and fill it half with amaretto and the other half 151 rum. Light the shot, or don't, and drop it into the pint glass. Pound it. The results taste improbably like Dr. Pepper. Which calls into question just how complicated the soft drink recipe is, but I digress.

                            I have not included precise measurements as well, they don't really matter. Especially when you light your drinks on fire.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ellaystingray

                              Speaking of American "Pilsner style" beers - i always crack up when I hear Miller lite's triple-hopped ads, it has an IBU rating of 7, the cutoff for true Pilsner beer is either 25 or 35, I don't recall for certain. I read somewhere that the cutoff for the human palate to detect bitterness is 10-12.

                              1. re: ellaystingray

                                Will this work with Pilsner Urquell, Luxardo Amaretto, and Lemonhart 151? ;) Should I light it with a match, or would a butane cigar lighter be better? Will it taste like Mexican Dr. Pepper? ;)

                                Great post. Thanks.

                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  Love it. There are variations of this shot with coffee liquour included so if you used Kahlua, then definitely, Mexican Dr. Pepper. However, if you use Firelit, it will taste like Alice Waters.

                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                    What do I use to make it taste like John Waters.....

                              2. The one I read about yesterday on twitter was pumpkin ale + Cynar.


                                1. the college summer drink of choice was Corona (light) topped off with Bacardi Limon...I don't know if I would drink this now but it did the trick back then and it was moderately tasty :-)