Beer Cocktail Week: Ale Flip Recipe

Beer Cocktail Week: Ale Flip Recipe

Beer Cocktail Week

I like beer. Not as much as cocktails, mind you; but I like beer. We left a lot behind when we departed Boston, home to us for our adult lives, and made our way to DC. One thing–a small thing, but still a thing–I didn’t even know I was leaving behind was beer. Back in Boston, I had a perfectly complementary relationship with our friend Dan. He is primarily a beer person, but appreciates a good cocktail; I’m primarily a cocktail person, but appreciate a good beer. Dan would do all of the beer research, procuring all of the interesting classic European brews and the latest highly regarded American craft ones. I’d do the same for spirits and cocktails. We’d get together every Sunday and share what we’d found, both in knowledge and liquid form.

Here in DC, I don’t have the time, the attention, or the money to fully invest in being up to date on both cocktails and beer; so I choose cocktails. I miss beer, though. So, this week I thought I’d try a little mixing with it. Maybe I can bring my expertise to bear on Dan’s specialty. It’s not without some reservations. Perhaps this is just mixing genres in a way no one will know what to do with it. Mittie Hellmich, my source of encyclopedic drink recipes, has some words of wisdom on this subject. In her introduction to her beer section she says,

Most people enjoy their beer in its unadulterated state, which is completely understandable; indeed, mixed beer drinks are an acquired taste. Steeped in history, mixed beer drinks go way back and are a part of beer’s illustrious history through the centuries.

Mittie speaks truth. Most people do drink their beers in an unadulterated state. It is understandable. Mixed beer drinks are an acquired taste. And yet people have been mixing beers in drinks for a very, very long time. And some of these drinks are just plain delicious, if you can just get your mind around mixing a beer.

We’ll spend this week mixing our beers. For the time being, we’re mostly sticking to the basics, using common beers in simple recipes. I’m sure there’s a whole other level of using interesting beers in unique drinks, but we’ll have to save that for next Beer Week. For now, we’re building a foundation.

Ale Flip Recipe

Our first mixed beer recipe is a very old one indeed, long before legit cocktails were ever created. We’re talking colonial; pilgrims actually drank this stuff. The flip, like most very old drinks, is more a category than a specific recipe. You could make it with most any alcoholic beverage. In its earliest days, beer was most common; when we get more into the actual cocktail era it was mostly a sherry or port drink. The common denominators were an egg yolk and a hot poker. The eggs were for calories; those pilgrims had a rough life, and sometimes a beer had to do for a meal. The hot poker was to add a little warmth during cold weather, and to froth the drink up a little bit. Modern flip makers tend to replace the poker with a saucepan.

I’ve tried flips, of the sherry and port variety, before. I find them tantalizing. The flavor is quite nice, but the hot poker element is damnably difficult. Even using a saucepan instead, and being as precise as possible, I always get the heat too high and end up cooking some of the egg. There’s nothing more unattractive in your drink than bits of boiled egg.

This time around it occurred to me that a) I don’t particularly want a warm drink in the spring, and b) I know a perfectly effective way to froth up a drink without using a hot poker, or even a saucepan. So, I used dry shaking instead.


  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 T simple syrup
  • 1 pinch dried ginger
  • 1 oz brandy–we used our standby Maison Rouge VSOP Cognac. A VS Cognac would do.
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 12 oz beer–make it a decent one, but not complicated and not hoppy. We went with Bass.


  • Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger, and brandy to a mixing glass.
  • Shake without ice for about 30 seconds. It should be nice and frothy.
  • Pour into a pint glass; if you’re using a Boston shaker, you can just use the mixing glass.
  • Slowly pour in the beer. It took several stages for me, the dry shake being so successful that the froth took up much of the glass.
  • You might have to gently stir a little as you add the beer, as it has a tendency to settle on the top. You want the beer to be well combined with the brandy, egg, sugar, and lemon. They’re delicious together.

Semi-traditional method

  • Heat the lemon, simple syrup, ginger, and 2 oz of the beer over low heat.
  • Beat the egg yolk and brandy in a pint glass.
  • Combine the two mixtures, and then pour the beer over the top.
  • Hope you didn’t cook your eggs.

Traditional method

  • Mix your drink as described above, and then insert a hot poker into it at the end to warm it and froth it.

Roberts & June