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Cheers! A quick mulled ale to ward off the late winter cold

Quick Mulled Ale (1).jpg
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
A really flexible recipe that you can make your way.

After seven years of Cheers episodes featuring Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings and Lester Graham with Michigan Radio, this is the last segment.

Both Tammy and Lester have enjoyed exploring Michigan’s growing craft cocktail movement, the development of top notch mixologists, and the rapid growth of distilleries that are already producing some of the world’s finest spirits as evidenced by the national and international awards some of them have received.

Before Cheers! began, both Lester and Tammy were reporting on the early days of distilling in Michigan. In May of 2013 they were interviewing the Kris Berglund, founder of the Michigan State University’s Artisan Distilling Program where many of the state’s distillers learned their craft. It was while visiting there that they met the head distiller of the yet to be opened Detroit City Distilling, which was one of the few new businesses opening in a city that was going through bankruptcy.

It’s been a learning experience; it’s been fun; it’s been a bit of good news when the world is so full of horrible news.

Tammy and Lester want to thank everyone who has enjoyed Cheers! on Michigan Radio. Many people who don’t drink at all have said they still listened just for the fun of it.

Quick Mulled Ale (5).jpg
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy heated the snifter with hot water, then poured it out just before adding the mulled ale.

Let’s go out with something new!

I’ve seen Tammy flame a drink. I’ve seen her smoke a drink. I’ve seen her heat up cider to add to a drink. But, I have never seen her put ale and spices in a saucepan and put it on the stove.

“You know how people visit for the holidays and they leave stuff,” Tammy asked.

She had leftover beer, North Peak Brewing Company’s Blitzen Festivus Ale made in Traverse City. She decided to make a mulled ale.

“With most mulled ales, you’re going to put everything on the stove and mull it for a long period of time like you would for a mulled wine,” Tammy said, adding that she didn’t want to make me wait 20 minutes.

She used a recipe from Cocktails On Tap by Jacob Grier, a Portland, Oregon bartender and author.

“This one uses ground spices. You can kind of mix and match to your liking,” Tammy said.

Using ground spices infuses the flavor into the ale as it’s comes to heat. Tammy used a pinch each of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, plus about a tablespoon and a half of brown sugar with the can of beer.

Quick Mulled Ale (2).jpg
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Garnish with a slice of citrus.

After she took it off the heat, she added some Fox River whiskey from Ann Arbor Distilling.

“The original recipe called for cognac or brandy. We do have some Michigan brandies, but I don’t have any of them. I chose the Fox River because it’s 80 proof, a little bit mellower, and I thought it would play nicely with the beer,” Tammy said. The recipe also called for an orange garnish. Tammy had lemon.

Obviously the recipe is really flexible. You can make it your own. Tammy said just use some kind of medium beer. Don’t use an IPA. Add some kind of citrus, whatever spices you like, and a distilled spirit. Add sugar to taste.

Quick Mulled Ale

  • 12 ounces can or bottle of beer (we used Festivus from North Peak Brewing,original recipe called for an English-style ale)
  • 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch each of ground clove, ginger, cinnamon and grated nutmeg
  • 1.5 to 2 ounces spirit of your choice (we used Fox River Michigan Whiskey from Ann Arbor Distilling Company)
  • Garnish: 1 thin lemon or orange wheel

Preheat a large mug or other serving glass by filling with hot orboiling water and setting aside. Meanwhile, combine all except
ingredients except spirit and garnish in a saucepan and heat until hot
drinking temperature but not boiling. Empty water from pre-heated
glass and pour mulled beer into it. Add spirit and garnish.

Note: This makes a generous amount and could easily be split into two servings!

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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