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Beer Cocktails | The Lunchbox

Beer Cocktails | The Lunchbox

Do you ever come across a pairing so peculiar that it captures your interest? That’s what happened to me when I was exploring mixology channels on Youtube and one video grabbed my attention. The channel VladSlickBartender makes tons of slickly produced shorts talking about cocktails and bartending gadgets. Beer is normally not his modus operandi, but he took one exception talking about an American original: The Lunchbox.

Sounds interesting, right? As if the Brass Monkey or Mimosa had an American origin story. My curiosity got the better of me. When I made the original following the steps of the video, it was bewildering to say the least. The orange and almond covers up the metallic notes of Coors Light and it’s actually a very easy to drink to sling back, especially since I could never chug beer before.

Nothing against Edna’s Lunchbox, clearly they were on to something here since it sells so well. However, I cannot justify the frosted glass or the use of a macro beer for something that has so much potential. That’s why I’ve brought out many craft beer styles that could give a greater legitimacy to this American Classic.

A few caveats with my research. We’re going by the base recipe of 1.5 oz amaretto, 2 oz orange juice and 6 oz of beer. The glasses will not be frozen. Some versions of the cocktail use bourbon or Southern Comfort, but we are sticking to the formula as much as possible. I’m using organic orange juice from Costco because I think it’s the best you can buy. And this will be judged as a cocktail you swallow in one gulp.

Jack’s Abby Post Shift | Bavarian Style Pilsner

First choice calls for a very clear substitution. Just make the macro lager into a craft lager. Jack’s Abby is known for make quality lagers, and Post Shift looked like a good starting point as a German Pilsner with a toasty, crackery profile and present bitter herbal happiness. The orange and almond liquor don’t override the aroma at all. It’s pleasant at the start, but as the sweetness fades, the bitterness increases. The alcohol from the Disaronno ends the beer on a very potent, medicinal note.

St. Bernardus Wit | Witbier

The next pick I had in mine was a beer most often associated with oranges, a Witbier. St. Bernardus has started canning their iconic #4 wit and it’s a delightfully spritzy beverage that keeps the yeast under control. It’s the most shandy-like of the options, as a sweet, light mimosa taste with an almond background. The sharpness and carbonation ramps as the beer goes down, but it’s super refreshing.

Vasen Norse | New England Double IPA

A NEIPA seemed like a dramatic shift, but often the orange juice flavors of the style is what make so many people like it. Vasen is known for doing tons of great heavy IPAs, the Norse being one of their key flagships filled with sweet, dank, peppery orange flavor. No surprisingly this is the heaviest of all my trials, in a creamy aroma and mouthfeel similar to orange curd. Unfortunately, that makes it too hard to chug as the beer eventually overpowers the juice and even liquor.

Vasen Vienna Lager | Vienna Lager

More of an inspired choice to keep the smoothness but add a newer kind of flavor. Vasen’s Vienna Lager is on the sweeter end of the style, that’s very light in body but crisp in taste. It tones down the alcohol and brings out this surprisingly bitter camamel to the cocktail. It coalesces together remarkably with the taste of an orange marmalade with a juicy tang and almond finish. A true delight.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA | American IPA

A last minute addition that I wanted to try. Maybe if we go back to basics with a classic like Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, that could give me more what I was looking for in terms of a bittersweet, hoppy, citrus. The finished cocktail has the most floral aroma with hops giving the orange juice a custardy smell. It starts nice, however it gets rather taxing the more you drink. The hoppiness makes the finish really sticky and bitter on your palate.

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An interesting set of experiences to be sure. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this recipe, it’s that almond and orange a real flavor powerhouse. Someone should trying making an orange almond beer! I’d love to hear about other variations and other beer styles worth testing! For the curious, give this a shot with a Witbier or Vienna Lager. Treat yourself to a new taste sensation!

(All of these photos were done by me, apologies for the bubbles)


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