B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

The Art of Beer Blending

with 4 comments

Blending beer has a history going back hundreds of years. For example, popular convention has it that porter was originally a blend of three ales — a third of ale, beer and twopenny — known as “three threads,” before being named after the class of punters it was most favoured by. (Martyn Cornell, however, has a very interesting article on the origins of porter that disputes the accepted history.)

One of the most widely-known beer blends is a Black and Tan: a blend of pale ale and stout or porter. It’s also been made using lager and stout. I’ve had it at Dix made from cask IPA and stout — a very satisfying drink that was beautifully poured by Aussie bartender Daniel.

I was at Steamworks yesterday and discovered, when chatting with the bartender, that they seem to like experimenting with blending their beers too (not the first time). Their current two seasonals are a Frambozen and an Ipanema Belgian Wit — both excellent beers on their own. Blended together, they make a visually appealing, refreshing, and flavourful drink, called a Berry White. The Frambozen floats atop the straw-coloured Ipanema, with a zone in the middle where the colours blend into each other.

Another off-menu blended beer drink you can order at Steamworks is a Black Berry, which is a blend of Frambozen and Heroica Stout. While you can just ask for your preferred proportion, there are two different approaches by the staff. Some prefer more stout than frambozen, using 1/3 frambozen, 2/3 stout; others prefer the reverse. I tried it with 2/3 frambozen and found it very pleasant. It has a more forward fruit flavour than if you went for the higher proportion of stout, which I tried at FigMint’s B.C. Day On the Wood beer & cheese tasting using Crannóg’s Back Hand of God and Pooka Cherry. (Note to self: next time, try half and half.)

Another blend the Steamworks bartender told me of was their IPA with their fall seasonal Great Pumpkin Ale. I would never have thought of that combination, but now I’m definitely going to try it. However, it probably won’t be the same as last year because their IPA formulation is different now due to running out of their Kent Goldings hops which were the signature variety in the beer.

The latter, in particular, has got me thinking about further exploring beer blending with no holds barred. You may be surprised by what you can discover, so why fence yourself in?

4 Responses

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  1. Let us not forget the Belgians for their age old art of blending… oh and yes, the macro brewers of the world who blend for consistency. My most recent find was Boundary Bay’s Dry Irish Stout which they blended with a tablespoon of commercial frambozen. A silky-smooth and pleasantly fruity dessert beer.

    Tonight’s drink is a Unibroue 17.


    Dean Carriere

    September 1, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  2. True, Dean, lots more international examples. I’m focusing on B.C. beer, though…

    Speaking of Belgians, it would be good if Storm would blend their lambic. I’ve got some of their 10y.o. black currant currently in my fridge. I find it a pleasant pucker, but I’m a freak. Most people’s palates here are even challenged with an ESB!


    September 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  3. I am living in Thailand, and recently had a discussion with a person who makes his own ‘home brew’.

    The local beer that I prefer is a Thai beer named “Leo Beer”.

    The aforementioned “bome brew” guy always states “Leo Beer is not even a ‘brewed beer’, it is a ‘blended beer’.

    Is there a difference, and might this be an accurate statement?

    By definition, are all commercial beers ‘blended’ ?

    thank you ,

    Tim Seitz

    tim seitz

    September 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    • Hi Tim,

      I can’t personally speak to Leo Beer, but any beer, whether it is blended or not, has to be brewed first. It may be that the brewery that Leo comes from has just blended two of their other beers together and then sell it under the Leo brand. I’m not aware of this being a typical practice, though. Large commercial brewers will use high gravity brewing where they first make a very strong beer and then dilute it, so as to reduce the cost of production.

      That said, Asia is awash in industrial lager. I’m in China right now and there’s not much choice; skunky beer is a big problem here. A greater variety in beer styles is needed. Hefeweizen and Witbier are two styles that I can think of that are more appropriate to the climate and culture. A mangosteen Witbier in Thailand would be killer!


      September 13, 2010 at 6:23 pm

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