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As the weather warms and we dust off the ol' backyard grill, we're probably all thinking about hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, and beer. But I've been daydreaming about another beverage, too: a drink that really whisks me away from the regular grind to the gentle breezes of a faraway isle.
I'm bringing beer with me, too, of course. Beer wants to relax. Beer is looking for a good time. And beer doesn't mind being introduced to someone new, someone with a little tropical flair.
Meet the Pineapple Hop. This easily batched pitcher drink will be my barbecue go-to from here on out. It's something of an ensemble show, pairing fresh, vibrant IPA with a tangy pineapple shrub. It's sweetened with a little orgeat, an almond-tinged syrup that often appears in tiki drinks. Finally, white rum gives the whole thing a proper kick in the pants.
Some might worry that pineapple + rum + orgeat means a drink that's over the line into cloying territory, but that's why the IPA is so essential. It brings in a savory side—piney and herbal and bitter—that cuts through the cocktail and balances the richer elements. (The beer's lively fizz helps with that, too.)
My advice: make the pineapple shrub right now, before your schedule's full of summer picnics and parties. Once it's all set, it can hang around in your fridge all summer long for mixing into cocktails or drinking by itself with a good splash of club soda. The process is pretty hands-off: you'll just chop up some pineapple, cover with sugar, and let it sit in the fridge. Come back the next day to drain the fruit from the juice, add a little tangy apple cider vinegar, and let the mixture chill out for a couple of weeks.
The tangy bite of the shrub nestles nicely into The Pineapple Hop, and batching it all up in advance means no last-minute scrambling. Unless you forgot to pick up hot dogs, that is.