5 Great Beers for Cocktail Lovers

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Casey Barber)

The world of cocktails is a deliciously diverse one. You’ve got the soul-warming depth of whiskey drinks, the crisp refreshment of vodka tonics, the debonair charm of gin martinis, the tropical breeziness of pina coladas and daiquiris — and that’s just scratching the surface. There are floral cocktails, herbal drinks and everything in between.

But guess what? The world of beers is just as wild for flavor! If you’ve been staying away from brews because hoppy bitterness might not be your bag, or because you haven’t fallen in love with the taste of roasted malts, I encourage you to step away from the taps at your local saloon and try something new.

(Image credit: Casey Barber)

The next time you’re craving a cocktail, try one of these beers. If you like…


You might think there’s no beer equivalent to something so tart, but think again. Gose is a century-old German beer style that fell far out of fashion, but has been making its way into brewery lineups over the past few years. It’s a sour beer that’s actually brewed with salt, lending it a dry, citrusy salinity. Close your eyes and take a sip: I kid you not, it really does mimic a salt-rimmed margarita.

  • Beer: Westbrook Brewing’s gose is one of the best I’ve tasted, a perfect marriage of sour and salty. (And though I didn’t get to try it, Cigar City brewed a limited-edition Margarita Gose earlier this year, proving my point exactly!)

Old-Fashioneds (and Bourbon)

Bourbon fans couldn’t be happier that barrel-aged beers rolled into town. Adventurous brewers have been using the one-and-done rule for bourbon barrels to their advantage, throwing whatever they think might work into the wood and seeing what happens.

  • Beer: The Bruery has a crazy-good roster of barrel-aged offerings, and I’m partial to their White Oak. Those vanilla undertones that bourbon lovers wax poetic over? Yeah, you’ll find them in spades here.

Gin & Tonics

IPAs that showcase piney hop varieties like Simcoe match up fiendishly well with gin’s juniper notes—they’ve even got a hint of citrus to echo the oh-so-crucial lime or lemon twist.

  • Beer: In fact, Weyerbacher Brewery’s Double Simcoe is such a good complement to gin that one of their sales reps created the “Double Gincoe” cocktail. To make it, pour a shot of your favorite gin into a tulip glass and top with a cold bottle of Double Simcoe. No need to stir; the carbonation mixes the drink for you!
(Image credit: Casey Barber)

Strawberry Daiquiris

All fruity drink lovers have probably had fruity beers shoved into their hands time and again, but there’s one in particular I’m going to push across the bar to you with a knowing nod:

  • Beer: Abita Strawberry Harvest. This lager isn’t cloying or Robitussin-y (come on, that’s what so many of them are like and you know it!), nor does it taste like a Jolly Rancher. It’s crisp and clean, somehow containing the very essence of a grown-up strawberry shortcake. Even manly men like my husband have no qualms quaffing a few of these.


Coffee- and chocolate-infused stouts are the way to go.

  • Beers: Southern Tier’s Mokah or New Belgium’s Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout will get your motor running. These big-flavored beers (in big ol’ bottles) leave bitter hops far in the background, putting sweet mocha flavors and caramel malts front and center. These are dessert-in-a-bottle beers and they go down smoothly. Almost too smoothly, considering their 10% ABV. Want to get fancy? Make a beer float by pouring a bottle over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Got any other beer/cocktail swap-outs to offer?