The Beer Mixtape: 6 Tips for Creating History’s Most Romantic Playlist

Mixtapes: The most romantic gesture in the history of the cosmos. Back in the days of cassette tapes, people, presumably teens or John Cusack pretending to be one, would obsessively hover over their dual-deck cassette players, creating the perfect playlist of music for their crush du jour. From the first song to the last, the selections are a carefully composed dance of mood, feelings of rage, yearning, happiness, or demise that you want your crush/beloved/obsessed to understand using words that can only be conveyed through music. Even after the pencil wound up its last tape, the tradition continued with CDs, or Spotify playlists, or however the hell people get shit in their ears these days.

But did you know the same feelings could be expressed…through beer?

Hear me out, because I promise these aren’t just the ramblings of an internet-writing Booze Hound the Clown. In fact, beer consumption is a prevalent hobby. Craft beer brewing is at an all-time high with nearly two hundred new breweries opening in the US from 2012 to 2013. And like most hobbies, once more people catch onto it, the more available your merchandise is- ask anyone who’s been to a beer festival!

That being said, let’s swing back to romance, because that’s ultimately what we’re here to discuss today. The most romantic thing anyone could ever do for me is give me something that I can put in my face. Sure, a box of chocolate or a heap of steak are beautiful and will most definitely get face-wrecked, but I want to be taken on a journey. An adventure. And just like sitting back with a mix-tape of music I can listen to, I’d prefer a journey where I don’t actually have to move.

You see, there are many specialty wine and beer stores out there selling single 12oz bottles from all over the country (and sometimes the world), from microbrews and craft beers (our favorites) to the standards from the big guys (depending on how serious your beer-lover is, probably not their favorite). These stores typically provide an empty cardboard six-pack holder (our blank cassette tape in this experiment) and aisles of magical potions hidden in sleek, seductive 12oz bottles. And just like an empty cassette tape, your space is limited. You have only six opportunities to create a romantic playlist from start to finish. Six touching moments in libation form to get your feelings across to the beer-lover in your life.

But what if they don’t like your choices? Will they laugh at you? Think your mixtape is ridiculous? On the flip side, what if you’re the beer lover, trying to make a heart-felt variety for someone who only drinks one kind of beer? Like…what if all they drink is IPA? Will they be happy with the six IPAs you’ve chosen, or will they just taste like a hideous mouth rainbow of grass, tree sap, and Irish Spring Soap?

These are all valid questions, not to be discounted. But take those insecurities, shove them in a six-pack, and let them be the emo portion of the playlist. Ready to fall in love? Yeah? Good, me too. Let’s hit it.

Beer #1- Introduce the mood taking baby steps…

Beer 1

There’s no other beer, in my opinion, to set the mood as perfectly as an icy cold White or Blonde ale. Not only is this a crisp, refreshing, easy drinker with pleasant, fruity notes, but it can be paired with oranges, which makes people think they’re drinking juice or a cocktail. From my experience, Whites and Blondes are perfect “starter beers” and excellent for people who think they don’t like beer. Now, not everyone can be converted, it’s true. I mean, hell, I used to think I liked ABBA when I was 15, but it turned out I just liked getting high with my friends. We’re easily seduced by atmosphere sometimes. And never to make any predetermined notions by sex or gender, I’ve recommended whites and blondes to guys who asked me what beer they should order for their non-beer drinking date, and honestly, it’s always gone over well. White/Blonde ales are not only a great “Track One” on your mixtape, but also have a reasonable alcohol content, somewhere around 5% on average, so you’re not wasting any time with vague, discombobulated poetry.

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Firestone Walker’s 805

Saint Archer White Ale

Avery’s White Rascal

Allagash White

Beer #2 – You’ve set the mood…now keep the tone even.

Beer 2

For the second beer in our glorious mixtape, I recommend a deep, rich, opaque Hefeweizen. The overall ambiance is similar to the White/Blonde beer that introduced our mixtape, but we’re starting to get to a more serious place. If you’ve never had a Hefeweizen before, they’re typically full-bodied, wheaty, incredibly satisfying and balanced beers. From my experience, and I’ve consumed a lot of wheat beers, Hefeweizen beers come in three notable varieties- the citrus variety, the clove variety, and the…well…banana variety.

Fortunately, I’ve tasted fewer and fewer of that banana variety in pubs since they were all over the place in 2010 (and no, I have no source for that, that’s just my experience. Take my word or don’t, I don’t own you.) If your Hefeweizen boasts banana notes, run. You might like it as an easy drinker, but that’s not the pulled-together composition we want in our mixed tape. By now, the receiver of your mix-tape is starting to understand the mood of your mix and is ready for the ultimate beer journey. But the citrus or clove variety- those are the notes we’re after. That’s the mood that’s going to help choreograph the rest of our beautiful beer mixtape and transcend us to a higher level of beer Nirvawesome.

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Pyramid Hefeweizen

Harpoon’s UFO

Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis

Beer #3 – Shifting the mood to a malty place…

Beer 3

Our taste buds have been warmed up and romanced with the beautiful, melodic song of the wheat. But what’s in our heart is so much greater than one note. We have a message to convey through this six-pack, and damn it, our feelings are going to be heard. By now, we’re feeling pretty cool, and we’re going to take a chance by sneaking in a new genre of music; take a risk with full, unjustified confidence. After all, we are at the halfway point, right? But you have to choose the right beer, because this is a choreographed balancing act. This is where you put in the song with the dark undertones to really express how you feel about your mix-tape recipient. Now’s the time to introduce a sweet and malty Double Barrel Brown Ale.

There isn’t enough I can say about this style of beer. It’s rich, but medium bodied. It makes the most incredible chili of ever tasted (leave a comment for my recipe, pairs great with cornbread!) It’s familiar, yet just different enough to make you fall in love. By now, your mixtape listener, if not a little drunk, has his or her ears wide open, and is ready to continue onward with your journey. You’ve likely caught their attention, and they’re curious as to where the rest of this playlist will go.

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Firestone Walker’s DBA

Beer #4 – Pale Ale, because everything sweet needs a bite of the bitter…

Beer 4

After the seriousness of a nice brown ale, your mix-tape receiver is ready for a little taste of bitter on the tongue. No, not an IPA. No one deserves to drink plant blood. I’m talking about something with a little edge, a rounded and balanced Pale Ale. We’re trying to get across our feelings with something a little different, like some heavy metal. We’re not trying to get growling metal off the bat. That does not a mix-tape make.

If you want to capture your beloved’s attention with something heavy, introduce them to the Power Metal of beers. Pale Ales are great because they make savory foods taste better. Meat tastes beefier. French Fries taste saltier. And even pasta with cream sauce tastes less rich. If you can find a good pale ale, something balanced with just a hint of bitter yet a lot of flavor, you might find your date listening to the Power Rangers theme song and appreciating the legit guitar shredding going on here.

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Firestone Walker’s Pale 31

Beer #5 – The Wildcard…because everyone is seduced by a good surprise.

Beer 5

From Ciders, to Nitro Ales, to Pilsner, to…gulp…IPAs…This is the mix-taper’s opportunity to get creative. It’s the rock-and-roll clown doing lots of cocaine. It might mean coming back from the bitter Pale Ale with a crisp, refreshing sweet cider. It might mean blasting down one of those new-fangled cartoon beer sodas like “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” which are cloyingly sweet and much stronger than a lot of people realize. It could mean a malty red ale, an easy-drinking Pilsner…this is the chance to add a song to your list that is wholly YOU and make your mix-tape stand out from any other he/she’s ever received!

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Get out of here, this is your time to shine.

Beer #6 – How will all of this end?

Beer 6

Wow…we sure poured a whole fuck ton of love into a cardboard box containing six slots ready for bottled perfection. Our mixtape recipient better be grateful, or drunk, or a combination of both. Hopefully the two of you shared these beers together, because otherwise…well…eat a burger and bring a pillow to the bathroom. But if you’re still feeling ready to wrap up your playlist and think you still have a little more HOO-WAH left in you…punctuate the experience with a Porter or Stout.

Strong, smooth, dark, and sexy with creamy notes of coconut, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and smoke, a porter or stout is the perfect exit to your mix-tape. If those other beers were strong enough over the course of your journey, a stout or porter could be the perfect monster-ballad to convey the last meaning shreds of your love and devotion. The exit note that ties up your entire mix-tape. The promises of lasting and lingering love. Or that stupid track from the 90s you belt out during karaoke.

My recommendations, if available in your area:

Maui Brewing’s Coconut Porter

Oh, and if the world turns to hell and your beer-lover disapproves of your selection…just drink them all yourself and serve them meat, cheese, crackers, and chocolate on a board and pretend it’s some kind of fancy taste-testing. No one can resist shit served on a wooden board.


Happy beer mixtape, everyone!

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