Blended beer drinks have been around forever. The American colonists did it. The Brits do it. Even the purist Germans do it. One such blend of stout with hefeweizen is sometimes called Cream of Wheat. Shandy makers Traveler Beer Co. are recommending a twist on this drink – a blend of Irish stout and shandy. In particular, for Valentine’s Day they are pushing what they are calling a Chocolate Covered Strawberry – a blend of Irish stout with their Time Traveler strawberry shandy.
Like a black and tan, the lighter stout floats on top of the denser shandy, creating that black over gold layering. The mix of sturdy, wheat-beer foam with creamy, nitro-stout foam gives it a head that just won’t quit. And who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries?
I gave it a whirl. Here’s my notes.
Aroma: The strawberry very much dominates. Low, wheaty grain. Faint notes of coffee roast. Don’t see how it can be so low since the stout is floating on top, but there it is.
Appearance: Full stand of creamy, white foam. Nitro-foam cascade halfway down the glass. Excellent retention. Top layer is black and opaque – appears clear. Bottom layer is pale straw and quite cloudy.
Flavor: Strawberry fruit hits first with a bit of dry roast coming a second later. The roast gradually takes over from the strawberry with a dry bite at the top of the mouth, but that strawberry is very persistent. Bitterness is medium-low, coming mostly from the stout. The stout’s dry, bitter roastiness emphasizes and clashes with a tart acidity in the shandy. Other impressions include bitter chocolate, acrid black-malt roast, low wheat malt, and Lemon. Finish lingers on chocolate and strawberry.
Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium-high carbonation. Acidity grabs at and dries out the tongue.
Overall Impression: I don’t mind either the stout or the shandy by themselves. Together they are a bit of a sledgehammer of flavors. Mostly a murky mish-mash. The promo material from Traveler recommends a 50/50 split of Time Traveler shandy with a dry, Irish stout. I recommend something more like a 70/30 stout to shandy ratio. The strawberry is much subtler, making the chocolate/strawberry effect clearer. This was interesting to try once, but I’m not sure I would do it again. Nor would I necessarily recommend that you do it once. Some things just aren’t meant to be.