Between the drinkability of cheap beer and the insurgence of flavorful craft brews, the beverage is as varied as it is delicious. So varied, in fact, that it can add a surprising boost of flavor to some of summer's most traditional drinks. Here are three ways to incorporate cheap, or craft, hops into your cookout cocktails.
One of the most classic drinks for cookouts or summer parties is a shandy. A traditional shandy is a mix of cheap beer and lemonade. The goal is to create a palatable, easy-drinking punch boozy enough to give your guests a soft buzz, but light enough to keep the party going all day.
For this recipe, we kept it traditional. Aim for the shandy to be equal parts lemonade and beer, continually checking the taste to make sure one flavor doesn't overpower the other.
I'd recommend a shandy with some flavor on the beer side. An ale's soft dry fizz will keep the sweetness of your juice selection at bay. To amp up flavors, a cup of a dark liquor adds a layer of complexity and weight to the body of the shandy. Different juices are fun to play with, as are different kinds of teas. Be sure to add sliced citrus to the top of the mixture for enhanced style.
Craft beer is too pricey to dump into a shandy, but it makes for a perfect addition to a summery mixed drink. A Strawberry Lager Spritzer starts by blending cut strawberries, honey and water. To keep it cheap, go with Yuengling. For more flavor, try any of the following local craft brews: Motorworks V-Twin, Darwin Brewing Summadayze (a bitter West Coast IPA) or Cigar City's Jai Alai.
Rally for the rest of the night with a rich, tasty Sundown Whiskey Shooter. Guinness is a frugal stout with good flavor, but a 3 Daughters Stern Line Stout amps up the body.