Fruity, creamy witbier; peppery saison; tangy berliner weisse; bright, fresh pilsner—warm weather brings with it all sorts of amazing beer. But a cold, refreshing cocktail can also be wonderful on a hot day. Who's to say which is better? Sometimes, when we can't decide what to drink, the answer is both: the beer cocktail. Maybe they're not for purists, but we love the flavors that result from mixing beer with other ingredients. Some of our favorite combos are as simple as adding a little citrus juice—or a second type of beer. But ales and lagers can also team up with spirits and liqueurs as part of a complex and boozy drink. Whatever kind of concoction you're in the mood for, get started with these 12 summer-appropriate beer cocktail recipes.
Beer Blends and Simple Drinks
If warm weather makes you, well, a little lazy, these first few recipes are for you. They're simple, fun blends of two different bottles. Our first option is a summery mixture of equal parts IPA and witbier: The citrusy, silky sweetness of the wheat beer tames the IPA's bitter hops, making for an extremely drinkable Franken-beer.
Brown ale has always reminded us a bit of toffee, so it's a natural pairing for apples in the form of tart hard cider. You're looking for a dry, crisp cider that isn't too funky; choose a local favorite, or go with Angry Orchard Traditional Dry.
Looking for an after-dinner drink that's not too heavy? This chocolate-raspberry cocktail is made by combining a fruity Flanders red ale and a bold, rich, roasty stout. We love St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout in this: It offers loads of coffee and chocolate flavor.
You could just dump some citrus juice into any old beer to make a mimosa variation, but it pays to put a little more thought into the process. This cocktail uses tart grapefruit juice to complement a hoppy beer—the recipe calls for Ninkasi Tricerahops, but feel free to substitute your favorite IPA or double IPA.
It's not highfalutin mixology, but this shandy is shockingly tasty. The combo brings together floral St-Germain with—yup—Bud Light Lime, for a drink that's crisp and fruity but not overwhelmingly sweet.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better drink for a summer barbecue than this easy, refreshing Cuban mix of bright pilsner, spicy ginger beer, and tangy lime juice. Feel free to experiment with other beer options, too; hopheads may want to try this with pale ale instead of pilsner.
Steak Island Beer Cocktail
Anyone who's had a michelada is familiar with the idea of a savory beer cocktail, but the Steak Island takes it one step further with a secret ingredient: salty, tangy, umami-rich steak sauce. We combine it with muddled bell peppers and lime juice to make a mixer, then top that off with fizzy lager.
The Forge's Hopping Berry
We're all about embracing summer berries in season, and so's this beer drink, made with muddled blueberries and strawberries. A splash of tart Duvel adds texture and a peppery note to the drink. Here, we use Nolet's gin, which is floral, fruity, and light on the juniper, but if you don't happen to have that around, life goes on.
Smoky Beer Sangrita
Sangrita is a spicy shooter that often accompanies a shot of tequila. But for this drink, we turn it into a full-fledged cocktail by mixing a sangrita base with IPA. The base is flavored with tomato juice and earthy, spicy harissa, plus black pepper and four different kinds of freshly squeezed citrus. It can be prepped a few hours in advance to avoid last-minute scrambling.
The Pineapple Hop
This tropical pitcher drink is made with a vinegary pineapple shrub, rum, and orgeat, an almond syrup flavored with a little rosewater. Bitter IPA balances the drink's sweetness and adds a pleasant fizz. Make a big batch of the shrub now to last all summer—you can drink it in cocktails, or simply add it to a tall glass of club soda.
Quick and Easy Margarita Shandy
This decidedly un-fancy but crowd-pleasing drink is a cinch to make, bringing together the tartness of a margarita and the effervescence of a beer. While we'd normally squeeze fresh limes for a cocktail, here we opt for the convenience of frozen limeade, batched up with tequila and an easy-drinking Mexican lager, like Modelo Especial.
Better-Than-Cream-Soda Rhubarb Cocktail
Rich Scottish ale, floral Pisco, tangy rhubarb, and a touch of vanilla work together like magic to create a drink that tastes—surprisingly—more than a little like cream soda.