I'm going to tackle another sensitive issue here today. So, if you don't have a strong stomach, look away. If you're still with me--my topic today is beer mixing.

To mix or not to mix?

Laurelwood Brewery, 51st Avenue

This subject matter seems to be very polarizing. Some people mix, the rest find this to be an abomination. Now, usually, there is no right answer to these types of questions, but this time there is: mixing is a good idea.

Now that I've said it, I'd like to clarify my position. First of all, the mixing that I'm speaking of is post brewing mixing--it simply means some from one tap, some from another. Very similar to the tradition of black and tan, half and half, or black and Sam. These traditional mixes however, usually rely on a visual aspect as well--there is almost always a clear separation of the two beers in the pint glass. In fact, there are tools to help a bartender pour these drinks properly. I don't much care what my beer looks like, it's the taste I'm after. The mixing I'm talking about is the homogeneous type--pour it, swirl it, whatever. Bell Biv Devoe said it best: "Smack it up, flip it, rub it down." You get the idea.

There are many brewers and drinkers out there who find that this concept goes against the natural beer purity laws: "I've brewed a Winter Ale, you'll drink a Winter Ale." But this also goes against Portland's experimental nature. We love when brewers experiment and try new ideas. Beer mixing is the consumer's way to take part in the experimentation as well.

Now, I'm not recommending that the average drinker go out and start mixing every beer that they order. This is not a fad. This isn't what the cool people are doing. To mix properly, you must know your beers intimately. One of my favorite mixes is a dark malty winter ale and a hop heavy IPA. During the winter, when I've made the switch to darker beers, I sometimes still want that hop nose of a great IPA. You can't just grab random beers and pouring them together, you must be well acquainted with each individually. You need to know the subtle characteristics of each part of the equation before evaluating their sum. This is for professionals only.

Experiment. Have fun. Support Portland beer!