So ... I was recently asked what I think about \u201cbeer cocktails\u201d or mixed beer drinks. Look, teammates. I like beer. I love the skill involved in creating a fine brew, the chemistry and subtle nuances: the obvious tastes, and the hidden surprises. I like beer for what it is \u2014 an art form. (In my opinion.) Someone out there has dedicated his or her life to creating this incredible complex mixture of hops, barley and water resulting in an exceptionally delicate brew - and you want to pour a shot of peach brandy in the mix? I don\u2019t know. It\u2019s not my cup of tea. Nevertheless ... creating a beer cocktail isn\u2019t a crime, neither is it inherently immoral. So lets talk. Let\u2019s define \u201cbeer cocktail.\u201d A beer cocktail is a drink that is kinda like any other cocktail - except the main ingredient is beer. Everything else is added in a supporting role. Beer is still the lead actor in this mix. Let\u2019s drop back and take a look into the murky past. Fact of life \u2014 cocktails in general are a relatively recent invention. Before Prohibition in the U.S. there simply was not such a concept as a \u201cmixed drink\u201d or a \u201ccocktail.\u201d With the production of really, Really, REALLY bad \u201cgin\u201d during Prohibition, it became something of a necessity to add fruit juices and soda pops to crappy booze in order to make them tolerable. Hence, cocktails. Now ... a beer cocktail is largely created to do the same thing. If you don\u2019t happen to like the taste of beer, but you add enough fruit juice or pop to the glass it is going to take on a new and, obviously fruity, taste. Sigh. But not only that. Some bartenders and hosts realized that you can mix different kinds of beer to create an entirely new flavor. It is done a lot with the darker, more hefty brews such as Imperial Stouts. Take a good stout and mix in a much milder brew and you have a whole different creation that may be more palatable to a larger group of people. So, there are two basic type of \u201cbeer cocktail\u201d - beer mixed with other beer to create a new blended beer and beer mixed with other materials to create an entirely new drink. A few examples: Black Velvet - Black Velvet is one part Guinness, one part brut sparkling wine; Snakebite - Snakebite involves mixing equal parts of lager and cider; Dirty Flower - Dirty Flower is made with equal parts fruit punch and a wheat beer; and Steamroller or the traditional Boilermaker - It\u2019s simple ... beer and whiskey. And there are lots more. Actually, there are whole recipe books dedicated to the topic. Hey, if you want to get adventurous, have at it. I hope you enjoy the exploration. Now ... on to some new brews. Will Power Pale Ale Right Brain Brewery Traverse City This English Pale Ale is a really tasty beer that comes in a can - as do more and more craft beers. Will Power pours a muted orange color and produces a decent amount of head which really helps in the scenting process. There is quite a bit of citrusy smell at first whiff. Strong and delightful. Promising of things to come. There is just a touch of a caramel backdrop. Will Power gives the impression that it is going to be a somewhat fruity brew. The citrus smell picked up on in the scenting follows through to the tasting. It is definitely out there. Lots of orange taste with a touch of a more herbal hoppy aftertaste. There is just a touch of bitterness toward the end. This beer has a very, very refreshing presence. Great taste for those looking for a lighter, less dominating beer. It is certainly a great summer-style beer, and would be a great picnic or beach beer (if you are allowed to take a beer to the beach). Highly recommended for those who enjoy a more bubbly, less malty brew and are looking for something that doesn\u2019t need too much ... beer snobbiness. This is nice! Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale Atwater Brewery Detroit Sigh. Decadent Dark is so, so good. This brew obviously pours dark and luxuriously thick. Not really thick - as in syrupy. Rather thick as in creamy. There is a light beige head that lingers (and frankly I enjoyed on the tip of my tongue). Sniffing this brew in my schooner, there was an almost hazelnut quality to the early scenting. Still, let\u2019s be honest, this is all about the chocolate. A blast of cocoa smell hits you right from the get go and is followed by a more defined smell of what I can best describe as melted dark chocolate. Kinda like the stuff bubbling out of a chocolate fountain. Oh my goodness. This isn\u2019t like drinking chocolate milk, or even drinking chocolate, but it is there - chocolate. You can\u2019t avoid it, and who would want to? The taste is ... exciting. For point of reference, almost a milk stout. Chocolate with a strong hint of some vanilla-esque cream. This brew is a little \u201clighter\u201d than some of the more demonstrative chocolate stouts, but I liked that. It isn\u2019t whacking you between the eyes with flavor. It is just good. Oh, so good. Chocolate-ish. Creamy. Yummy.