Today we have a winter beer sangria recipe to share. A smooth blend of fruity rye whiskey, spiced winter lager and (mostly) seasonal fruit. A rather harmonious flavor composition with each ingredient complementing the rest for a delightful and not overly sweet sangria.
Chances are you know all too well how very treacherous a glass of sangria can be when made with a wine too sweet, fortified with a liquor too strong and flavored with juice or soda drink loaded with high fructose corn syrup.
With our winter beer sangria you need not be concerned with punch treachery. Its overall sugar and alcohol content are significantly lower (yes, less sugar even though beer is involved) than a traditional red wine sangria and it is truly light while the fruit and seasonal spice fragrance and flavors are amplified.
You can drink as many glasses of it as you could beermosas and while your festive mood will follow an upward trajectory the uplift will not result in a dull headache… or worse, such as is common after consuming a cheap red wine sangria. I am quite confident that most people do not mix their sangria using $30+ bottles of wine, usually it is the cheap stuff that ends up in punches. With its headache inducing powers.
Quite a few people we have served this winter beer sangria to have been surprised to learn that it is in fact made with spiced beer. Chris and I do enjoy a white beer sangria (with Witbier or Hefeweizen), but this one is a bit more festive. Our choice of beer for this punch (aka craft beer cocktail) is spiced winter lager (top fermented beer). A spiced winter ale (bottom fermented beer) works just as well – usually these are lovingly called Christmas ales:)
The Samuel Adams Winter Lager we selected is simply a bock lager brewed with ginger, orange peel and cinnamon. The result is a rich yet crisp beer with a warming caramel embrace and pleasant hints of winter spices. While bock lagers are known to be stronger in terms of alcohol by volume this one only has ABV 5.6%. It is very similar to an Oktoberfest style lager actually.
Apart from going with a flavorful beer in the stead of red wine, we do two more things differently with this sangria – we use rye whiskey instead of brandy (or flavored liqueur) and flavored sparkling water instead of a sugar loaded soda or juice. The drier (than bourbon) rye whiskey brings a distinguished spiciness and fruitiness, yet does not add much by way of sweetness and the sparkling water further lightens up the sangria. We used a tangerine flavor for this post, but a cranberry flavored water is a pretty strong contender.
The one step not pictured above is a splash (admittedly a generous one) of orange juice. Apart from boosting the citrusy presence it adds a certain murkiness to the punch and thus gives it a bit more of a credible look. Sangria should look somewhat murky after all:).
The fruit mix we use in this winter beer sangria is meant to contribute distinct tart and slightly sweet flavors. Blood orange, a common orange variety (Navel, Cara Cara etc), cranberries, blackberries and halved red grapes. We also add cloves, cinnamon and rosemary, both in the pitcher and for garnish in the glasses.
Have you ever tried using a cinnamon stick as a straw? Aside from being childish and silly it uplifts the experience of sipping on this particular winter beer sangria. As soon as the lips touch the cinnamon stick its aroma readies the senses for the avalanche of flavors to follow. Get over your prejudice and try it:)
Remember – once that first pitcher is all gone (instantaneously it seems) keep the fruit, cinnamon and cloves in it and quickly start all over with the splash of OJ, the rye whiskey, the flavored sparkling water and of course – the spiced beer of your choice.
And…that’s our winter beer sangria recipe shared! I feel so thankful for spiced winter brews, they really make winter more bearable. Jolly even:) Enjoy, friends!
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Winter Beer Sangria
- 6 oz rye whiskey
- 2 12 oz bottles of spiced winter lager/ale
- 12 oz sparkling water citrus or berry flavored recommended
- 2 oz orange juice
- 1 blood orange sliced thin
- 1 common orange Valencia, Navel, Cara Cara sliced thin
- 1/2 cup halved red seedless grapes
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 4-5 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish
- 2 sprigs of rosemary plus more for garnish
Wash and cut (as appropriate) all the fruit and arrange in layers at the bottom of a pitcher.
Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and rosemary.
Add the rye whiskey and the orange juice and let the fruit soak for a few minutes.
If you are going to serve the winter beer sangria right away prepare glasses with ice cubes and fruit/rosemary garnish, otherwise consider refrigerating it until needed. Optional - prepare extra cinnamon sticks for garnish and to use as straws if desired.
When ready to serve add the sparkling water first and then the beer. When you add the beer pause frequently to let the foam dissipate.
Gently stir everything together and once the fruit settles to the bottom pour into glasses.
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