Beer Spritzes Are The Unfussy Cocktail You Need For Summer

A bright, fruity flavor and the tartness of sparkling wine, combined with the tingle of bubbles and a relatively low alcohol content, make a chilled spritz the perfect beverage to have within arms reach during any sunny celebration. The spritz, which draws its name from the German word for "spray," originated from the need to dilute certain drinks either to make the flavor of certain wines more palatable or to lower the alcohol content so people could enjoy multiple glasses.

Nowadays, the drink may seem synonymous with a distinctly Italian sparkling wine cocktail featuring Prosecco and bitter amaro liqueurs like Aperol or Campari. At one point, however, even adding a splash of water to wine would qualify the resulting concoction as a spritz. Once you consider just how flexible the definition of a spritz really is, the possibilities begin to open up. So, how about introducing another frothy summer favorite to the mix?

Beer is a fantastic base for all kinds of spritzes because of its easy availability and virtually limitless variety. Beer spritzes are also easy enough to make on short notice, and you won't end up breaking the bank (as you would using a good sparkling wine or prosecco as a base) if you need to quench a thirsty crowd on a hot afternoon. Here's how to get started on fixing a worthy beer spritzer that'll stand up to its Italian counterpart.

Light beer works best for spritzes

At the heart of the beer spritz is a simple philosophy — replace the sparkling wine with a light beer, and you're in business. Of course, you can experiment with different types of beer, and we'll get to that in a bit. But if you're looking to recreate a wine spritz using beer, a crisp and mellow-flavored light beer makes a great substitute. It will also result in a better-tasting and less hangover-inducing drink than if you were to use a budget prosecco or sparkling wine.

For a beer spritz, all you need is a glass with a generous amount of ice, one measure of an amaro (a family of bitter Italian liquors, including Campari and Aperol), and a light beer of your choice. The mild, malty sweetness of beer perfectly compliments the bitter complexity of the Italian amaro, and understanding how to use amaro can help you craft the ideal beer pairing. Finally, remember to "spritz" the top of the drink by twisting a sliver of orange rind over it for a refreshing citrus aroma. While a traditional wine spritz also calls for soda water, the light beer adds the required effervescent mouthfeel, eliminating the need for soda.

Another reason light beer works well is that it keeps the ABV levels low. A spritz is great during the day or in the hours leading up to a spirited night on the town. A couple of glasses should give you nothing more than a happy buzz and just the right amount of social lubrication.

Limitless customizations for beer fans and critics

Traditional spritzes generally use a 3-2-1 proportion of sparkling wine, bitters, and soda water, respectively. With beer, you get a lot more room to tweak proportions according to your tastes. If you're using a beer you enjoy or an especially flavorsome brew, go heavy on it and think of the other additions as "flavor enhancers." Just because it's the base of the drink, there's no reason why beer can't be the star of the show as well.

The good news for brew fans is that for all the lagers, ales, IPAs, and other types of beer available, there is a corresponding spritz that you can create. Something as simple as adding a shot of Campari and an orange wedge straight into your pint of lager can yield delicious results. A Belgian wheat beer pairs especially well with Aperol's bitter orange notes, for example. And, if you want to experiment with a stout or dark beer, consider pairing it with Champagne to create the aptly titled Black Velvet, though, strictly speaking, we are wading into expensive cocktail territory here.

You can also take things to the other extreme to accommodate those who may not enjoy the taste of beer. Consider adding some sweet vermouth, fruit juice, or a few careful drops of Angostura bitters to your mix. Some homemade infused simple syrup can also give your beer spritz a signature feel that'll have people asking for your "secret." Each of these additions will push the notes of beer and hops to the background while retaining the brew's fizz. Once again, the options are only limited by your creativity and the ingredients you have at hand. Hidden amongst all the possible combinations is your perfect summer beer spritz.