Whether its a bright, citrusy IPA or a malty imperial stout, beer can serve as the base for a range of easy-to-make sweeteners, which, when used in place of simple syrup, can introduce complexity to a number of classic and modern drinks. From the sage-beer syrup in Christiaan Rollich’s White Bull to the playful Budweiser syrup in Erika Ordoñez’s The Buddy System, these syrups expand the world of beer cocktails well beyond the expected shandy.
Like many homemade wine syrups, most of our recipes follow a simple 1:1 ratio, with the ingredients dissolved together over low heat; gentle heating is particularly important so as not to diminish the freshness and character of the beer.
Here, five beer syrups and how to use them.
A straightforward 1:1 ratio works well with sour beers, like gose or Berliner Weisse, and can add sharpness and perceived acidity to a number of classic cocktails, from sours to spritzes. To up the flavor ante even more, try adding fresh fruit such as cherries or raspberries to the syrup as Morgan Schick does in his sour triple threat, the Ronnie Buders.
An equal-parts ratio works here, too, resulting in a fresh, bright syrup that’s particularly suited to whiskey- or amaro-based drinks. Given the hop-forward nature of IPAs, however, this syrup runs the risk of reading as rancid if overheated, so be careful to keep it on a low simmer.
A German wheat beer, hefeweizen’s dry, tart flavors add extra kick to drinks without throwing them out of balance. It works particularly well with sour formulas (in the U.S., hefeweizen is sometimes served with lemon to cut the wheat flavor) as well as in dry sherry-based drinks. Try adding fresh herbs such as sage or rosemary to the syrup for added complexity, with a 1:1 ratio of beer to sugar.
To better concentrate the flavor of the beer, start with two cups of stout and reduce it by half before adding a cup of demerara sugar (the flavors of cane sugar complement the toasted notes found in many stouts). The full-bodied profile of stout syrup works well as a substitute for simple syrup in classic Old-Fashioneds, flips and a number of rich, creamy cocktails.
While obviously not a beer, cider can just as easily take the place of water in an equal-parts simple syrup formula. Unsurprisingly, it’s a natural fit for cider or apple brandy-based drinks, and also suits many bourbon-based recipes.