Flip: For What Ales You

By Brendan Witt, AHA Intern

Have you ever wondered about the beer served in colonial America? Chances are, you may have heard about Poor Richard’s Ale, but what about a Flip? In his article “Flip: A Colonial American Staple” found in the Sep./Oct. 2011 issue of Zymurgy magazine, Joseph Alonso provides a glimpse into this beer cocktail that was once a staple at colonial pubs.

Believe it or not, beer was very utilitarian in colonial times. If you were suffering from a tooth ache or enduring a cold horseback ride across the country, a strong and potable beverage was needed to make these tasks possible.

Considered typical tavern fair of the time, a Flip was a highly alcoholic beverage concocted by adding various spices, local ingredients and a raw egg to a strong ale—probably along the lines of an old ale, with high alcohol and lots of malt character.

But the peculiarity of a Flip doesn’t end there. In colonial times, after the mixture of local ingredients and egg concoction was prepared, the bartender took a red-hot loggerhead (metal tool) off of a fire and submerged it into the mug. The roasted mixture was then poured back and forth between two mugs to create an even thicker drink, which quenched thirst, satisfied hunger and made the long November a bit more bearable.

[TRY 4 modern takes on the “Flip” beer cocktail]

Flip Recipe

The following is a suggested recipe for a pint of Flip, but you may want to adjust ingredients based on your tastes and what you have available. For an even more authentic touch, put a piece of grainy bread at the bottom of the mug.


  • 12 oz. old ale
  • 1 “slug” rum
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped, dried pumpkin or 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp persimmon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped lemon peel
  • 1 egg


Place a fireplace poker into the flames of a fire until it begins to heat.*

Place the ingredients above, excluding the beer and rum, into a bowl and vigorously whip until thoroughly mixed. Fill a metal mug halfway with old ale, and top it off with the ingredient mixture and the rum.

Once the mug is full, place the red-hot fire poker into the metal mug and stir. You may want to do this outside! Remove the poker and pour the concoction back and forth between two mugs, trying to get as much height between each pour as possible. Be careful!

And there you have it, a Flip—the perfect beer cocktail for the thirsty, weathered and hungry.

*A grill or fireplace can be used to heat the fire poker. You may also have to get a bit more creative. The AHA staff used an old kitchen knife and a small blowtorch. 

Photo © Andrew Alonso

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