You’ve heard of the good ol’ shot-and-beer combo. This mix, otherwise known as a boilermaker (or a beer cocktail), is notorious for producing a quick buzz. Basically, it amounts to slamming a shot of (typically bad) whiskey and chasing it with a (typically bad) beer — simple and effective, with no concern for taste. For a long time, the boilermaker was relegated to the recesses of the dingy dive bar and certainly never spotted on the cocktail menu of a swanky joint.
Thankfully for all of us imbibers, the surge of fantastic craft beers and whiskeys on the market over the past few years means that we no longer have to settle for getting tipsy via bad taste. Now, delicious spirits and beers to pair, sip and savor are easy to find. What’s more, your favorite bar probably carries an excellent selection of spirits and craft beers to get creative with (and for what it’s worth, a unique pairing is always a good conversation-starter with the bartender).
The trick for crafting a tasty boilermaker is knowing what you like to sip on in the first place. Are you a fan of big, hoppy IPAs? Do you like a classic, light pilsner? How about the funkier, breadier Saisons and farmhouse ales?
The same concept applies to your choice of shot. Do you go for smooth, caramel-y bourbons or dry, spicy ryes? How about Irish whiskey or a well-aged rum. There’s no wrong answer here. Boilermakers are fun and festive for any holiday celebration and the variations are endless — both intuitive and off the beaten path — so the world is really your (boozy) oyster.
As a summer gift to you, we’ve listed a few of our favorite pairings below, along with an easy cocktail you can make at home — no mixology needed! We branched out a bit and included other spirits beyond the tried-and-true whiskey in this list. After all, if a liquor is delicious and well-made, and a beer is also delicious and well-made, there’s no reason not to pair them up — and no wrong way to boilermaker.
We do insist upon one thing, though: Don’t treat it as a regular shot. When you’re picky about your pairing, it deserves to be enjoyed, not rushed.
Keeping it classic: Widow Jane Rye + Founders All Day IPA
With dinner fresh off the grill: Highland Park Magnus + Bell’s Oberon
Abstract and elegant: Michter’s Sour Mash + Dogfish Head Midas Touch
On a boat: Casamigos Blanco + Westbrook Gose
Rich and refined: Brugal 1888 + Rogue Mocha Porter
Highbrow/lowbrow: The Glenlivet 18 + Miller High Life