The Strawberry Tea-Beer Experiment

I have two loves in this world. Er, well, two “drinking” kinds of love. Tea (the one that’s good for me) and beer (obviously not good for me). What I always wanted to do was combine the two together somehow. Sure, I could have gone about the herculean homebrewing task of adding tea leaves to malt and barley, but I’m nowhere near that ambitious. There had to be a lazier way to do it. I had an idea, and all I needed were like-flavored ingredients. Two years ago, I decided to find them.

As luck would have it, this task didn’t take too long. Several years ago, I had a rather loud strawberry-laden blend from Stash; their Chanakara Red Berry Roobios. On the beer front, I encountered an equally berry-fueled beer at the North American Organic Brewers Festival. Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale. I knew how to acquire the first but was hard-pressed on locating the latter. By happenstance, I found it at a local Whole Foods. This shouldn’t have surprised me.

Now came the task of combining the two. In my mind’s eye, I thought the best way would be to cold-brew the “tea”. That process was simple enough; brew a heated concentrate (4 tsp in 16oz of boiled water) and fill a glass with ice.

The second step was even simpler. Divide the iced tisane between two pint glasses – halfway with each – then pour the beer over both.

The end result of the cold-brewed tea-beer tasted like…well…watered down beer. With ice in it. I even tested the combination on my stepdad, who – up ‘til then – was hovering around the alcoholic alchemy with eager eyes. His opinion matched my own. Something was “off”. I was almost there, but not quite.

Around this time, I’d forgotten about the re-steeped roobios concentrate. I had brewed it for a sleepy-time tea after the experiment. I also had about 4oz of the strawberry ale left as well. Had to finish that, too. I mean, you don’t waste good beer. Then I had an epiphany.

I combined the hot tea with the cold beer.

It was like liquid magic. I never thought to use hot tea because I feared it would take from the beer’s natural foamy texture. The complete opposite happened. The juxtaposed elements and temperatures actually gave the beer greater head, especially after a stir or two. The flavor also didn’t diminish. The naturally bitter ale complimented the nut-sweet rooibos, and both strawberry characteristics combined perfectly. End result was bitter on the foretaste, smooth and berry-filled in the middle, and finished with a crisp aftertaste.

Laziness had paid off…and inspired other combinations. Some more successful than others. But I’ll get to that at a later date.

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Saturday, November 6th, 2010 Beverage Blog, Steep Stories No Comments

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