Ale Flip Failure - The Rituals

Happy New Year: Another Flipping Failure

Depending on one’s personality, a new year can represent a new start or a chance to really dwell on the past. Let’s be realistic for a second, okay? January is an excellent month to analyze all of the delusional (and unrealized) resolutions of years past—all of the misguided hopes and broken dreams. Pay attention! If you listen you can hear it—the gentle whispering of reality under all of the noise in your head. Yes, you accomplished a few things last year, but not really. Nothing that comes close to all of the promises you made!

As you might be able to tell, we at the Rituals love to dwell on failure. Our failure. It certainly has more entertainment value (at least for us) than relentless positivity. This week’s beverage is emblematic of this passion. The fact that the ALE FLIP has its roots in Medieval Times colonial times makes it even better. Let’s embrace this opportunity to really dwell on the past here. Finally, we encounter a drink with some real history! We’re not talking about the 70s here, we’re talking the deep, deep, deep past, the dawn of America. I’m going to go so far as to say that this cocktail wasn’t just a feature of early America. As far as I’m concerned, it is America.

George Washington was a homebrewer and he liked to make and drink ale flips. It’s in all of the history books (if it’s not then it should be). Here’s a guy who said no to being king of America, so we’re dealing with somebody whose opinion actually matters—not like your craft beer drinking buddy from college.

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 quart ale (Brian purchases olde-tymey Traquair House Ale, from Scotland)
2.5 tsp sugar syrup

Beat the egg whites until creamy; beat the egg yolks, and combine the two, adding the sugar syrup. Pour the ale into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually add the egg mixture to the boiling ale, stirring it constantly. Remove from heat and transfer between two pitchers vigorously to build a frothy head. Balance out the brew between the pitchers, dust with nutmeg, and serve steaming hot.

Although this particular recipe doesn’t mention it, most accounts gleefully note that the ale flip was built at room temperature (that’s all they had back in the day) and then heated to within an inch of its life by shoving a red-hot poker into the liquid, which created frothing and caramelization and pyrotechnics and carbon deposits. Unfortunately we don’t have a red-hot poker to heat up our cocktail, but we do have a stove. The Rituals wants to remain on good terms with the Health Department after all.

Truthfully, we’re just excited to be combining eggs and booze again, since our first (and only) encounter with this concept led us through the emotional and moldy rollercoaster of our inaugural drink, the A-1 Pick Me Up. Yet somehow that horrible experience remains the pinnacle of achievement for us and it’s just been a downhill slide since then. So there you have it. The ALE FLIP is the perfect intersection of warm beer, eggs, nutmeg, a red-hot poker, and the past. What a great opportunity for failure! Perhaps we can capture that magic again.

Beefcake: There’s no way this is a drink. This looks like the atmosphere on Mercury.
Eric: All I can think about is hot and sour soup.
Brian: This cannot be right.
Beefcake: This is like liquid hot magma.
Eric: Looks like magma, smells like feet!
Beefcake: Yeah, if they were dog feet.

Beefcake drinks.

Beefcake: Jesus! That’s terrible!
Brian: You have to add egg to boiling water! What other way do you do this where it doesn’t cook the egg? This can’t be right.
Beefcake: Look, there’s dead feet skin on the rim of the glass.
Brian: (drinks) Arg, atrocious!
Eric: I have egg in my teeth.

Brian makes Eric read over the recipe to ensure that he didn’t make the drink incorrectly.

Brian: Wait, I did everything it says there.
Eric: Whew, it’s perfect then!
Beefcake: Actually, you know what it really looks like? Like one of those pods that those alien facehuggers are inside of that are just floating around.
Eric: For me, it evokes being in southeast Asia and seeing those preserved snake skins, cobra skins, that were all folded all over onto themselves in giant jars.
Beefcake: At what point did they drink this and think, “You know what would make this better? (snaps fingers) Nutmeg. Now it’ll come alive!” This is like one of those drinks they make you drink when you’re in powerlifting to get all of your proteins at once.”
Eric: These are great tasting notes.
Beefcake: “Just down the hatch! Down the hatch! Okay now, let’s powerclean 600 pounds. Go!”

Drinking our ale flip is kind of like eating soil. Actually, soil is too generous—it tastes like eating discarded egg drop soup off of a hot Little League dirt infield. So now you don’t have to go and do that—you can just drink this instead and know what it’s like! Upon further review, Punch Magazine acknowledges today’s bitter brews can skew this flip from its original intentions. Other websites suggest a porter instead of a dark ale. Maybe that’s right. Maybe something sweeter and less carbonated would be more historically accurate.

But I don’t know. Let’s think about big-budgeted movie fiascoes (usually sequels) for a second. Do the directors of these disasters acknowledge their failure? Do they say, “Well, it was a great idea, but it was executed poorly, and the actors didn’t play well together, and we got unlucky with weather, etc.”? Or do they say, “This is perfect! This is exactly what I imagined!!! I had a vision in my head and this is exactly like it!” In other words: It is a problem with execution—or a problem with vision?

Maybe it’s not our fault. Maybe it’s not an execution problem. Maybe the colonists just loved drinking a beverage that tasted like dirt. It’s hard to say for sure.

All I know is that we will meet again. Ale Flip, we will meet again.

SCORES: Brian 0, Eric 0, Beefcake 0.

On the next Rituals: The Revenge of the Ale Flip and DIY Prunelle!

Eric D. Anderson


Eric D. Anderson came to appreciate cocktails late in life and is trying to make up for lost time. He finds that crafting drinks involves the same precision, creativity, sociability, and ritual as baking—another passion—and believes that it brings people together in the same way. Eric is the director of Way of the Puck, a feature-length documentary about professional air hockey, and the editor of Stories of Quitting (, an online collection of true stories that celebrate giving up. His writing has appeared in AGNI, Painted Bride Quarterly, Perigee, Giant Robot, and Wild Quarterly, among other publications. In his free time he works as a camera operator on commercials and motion pictures.

Always drink responsibly!