UPDATE #2: WE WON THE LAST ROUND! Now it’s time to come out on June 19th and support the Black’n Brew in the Beer Cocktail finals at Knoxville Public House! Don’t miss it!

UPDATE: The Black & Brew was selected to go head-to-head with another beer cocktail on June 5th at the Knoxville Public House! Please join us and got for our cocktail!

As you know, E and I are no strangers to trying out new food recipes and even inventing a few of our own along the way. Cocktails, on the other hand, we usually leave to the pros. Sure we have a few liquor infusions and winemaking under our belts, but we have not really delved into the art of crafting a cocktail. This all changed last week when the Knox Public House posted a Beer Cocktail Thrown Down on their website. This competition is going to be part of Knoxville’s Craft Beer Week and the winner will get their cocktail featured at Knox Public House for the month of June!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good competition and this has been too interesting to pass up! I love beer and I love cocktails so how could I not try to come up with something delicious??

My first step in the process was deciding what type of beer to use as a base. Since it’s getting warm out wheats, IPAs and Mexican lagers were the ones I immediately gravitated toward. The wheat beers screamed “I would make a great cocktail!” the loudest to me because of their citrus notes and creamy body. Now, there are a lot of those guys out there and I decided to choose three different ones to see which one lended itself to the best concoction. Thanks to the new Casual Pint at Northshore Town Center I came home with Lucky Bucket, Weihenstephaner, and Shiner Red Ruby. With that accomplished, I was on to decide the rest of the components.

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Blackberries: they are a summer staple and oh so delicious. It was either that or rhubarb and chose the berries not only because of their beautiful color but their deliciously sweet brightness. Now, something to make the cocktail unique was most certainly in order. Is it a competition after all!

Have you ever had a shrub? No, not a plant that you put around your house to make it pretty, a fruit steeped vinegar that you use to make things yummy. This was exactly what the Black and Brew needed, a shrub. I took blackberries and poured superhot apple cider vinegar over them and let it sit for one week. A lot of people back sweeten the vinegar after steeping but after tasting I decided to omit this part.

I also wanted to add more blackberry punch to the drink so I cooked down some of the berries with water to make a compote.

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Onto the booze!

I started this process with vodka but those cocktails left me feeling like something was missing. I started thinking about what flavor notes I wanted to draw out and discovered that gin was the right spirit to add to the mix. Not just any gin, though, Hendrick’s Gin.

So I now had the bones of my “beertail”, but what was going to pull it all together? I went out to my garden for inspiration and the thyme and rosemary both struck my fancy. After smelling and tasting I chose the less potent of the two, the thyme. It not only brought out the flavor of the gin but also afforded a pretty lovely garnish!


The Test:

I started with the Wiehenstephaner. Made the cocktail (with some lemon at this point) and it was just ok. Seemed to be a little bitter, which I usually like but not for this.  I felt like the beer needed to be a little less overpowering due to the subtlety of the other ingredients.

Next I chose the Lucky Bucket. Same process again, only this time we had a winner! The beer mellowed out the shrub but still left some acidity hanging around. The gin and thyme were both able to show through as well. The blackberry flavor is present but subtle. However, the lemon seemed to be overpowering things.

Round two with the Lucky Bucket (minus the lemon this time) was delicious! Thanks to the shrub this lil beertail didn’t need any citrus.  I hope that you guys have enjoyed this post and are drooling just a little bit at the thought of this tasty beverage. Here’s a photo to help!


This is how the Black and Brew was born. Now, tweet KnoxBeerWeek and Knox Public House and let them know you wanna taste it in the Throw Down!

M (a.k.a Ms. Knoxfoodie)