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Beer and Whisk(e)y Are Soulmates - Meet 5 Perfect Pairings

 
Wine pairings are a given. In recent years pairing showcasing Craft Beer, Whisk(e)y, and other drinks have been experiment with, as talented chefs the world over try to pair each beverage with a variety of dishes and ingredients.

Yet, to this day, pairing different types of alcohol is still a hugely unappreciated and rarely practised scenario. For the seasoned lover of Whisk(e)y, was there not a time at your local pub or bar, when a sip of Beer right after your dram delivered a whole new barrage of flavours? No? Well, hurry on down to your local and try it.

The pairing of Beer and Whisk(e)y is a great way to spice things up on your journey as an aficionado and witness entirely new drinking experiences. You could experiment on your own, but we take alcohol consumption seriously and finding the perfect match could take a while.

Before delving into the fun, here are some recommended pairings. If you can’t access these exact products, go with the styles put forth and you should quickly discover some well-balanced matches.

1. Punk IPA with Son of a Peat

The Punk IPA is produced by Scotland’s most famed craft brewery, BrewDog. It was the Beer that shot the company to success and is still their best-selling Brew by far. The lovely West-coast hops used bring about a barrage of citrus notes, while the New Zealand Nelson Sauvin variety brings some tropical fruit notes to the palate, including mango and pineapple.

The Beer also shows hints of sweet malt, herbs, and grass which are complemented greatly by the peat-forward, earthy character of Flaviar’s Son of A Peat. The fruits from the Beer work well with the second wave of flavours from the Whisky, which come along in the form of apricots, green apples, and buttery biscuits. Both intense and powerful, yet in perfect harmony, this is a Scottish pairing like no other.

Son Of A Peat
If you run out of Punk IPA, Son of a Peat matches perfectly with Sierra Beer, as well.

2. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier with Nikka Coffey Grain

The Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier has come to define the Hefeweizen Beer style, also known as wheat Beer, as the grain bill replaces much of the malted barley with wheat. The yeast strains used are also unique, often delivering refreshing notes of banana and glove. This Hefeweissbier features the known banana notes, along with a heavy influence of spice. A touch of citrus joins the palate as a playful spicy, finish ensues.

Nikka
A dram of the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, by Japan’s second largest Whisky producer Yoichi, adds new layers of tropical fruit, summer spice, and coconut to the mix. After a sip of each, a whole symphony of tropical fruits, warm spice, and subtle sweetness create a truly unique pairing experience.

3. Alesmith Wee Heavy with Booker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon

By San Diego’s amazing Alesmith brewery, the Wee Heavy is a rich, malty Scotch Ale coming in at 10% ABV. Notes of toffee covered walnuts, smoke, and dark fruit make this the perfect Beer to be paired with Bourbon, in this case Booker’s. The Bourbon, which usually comes in at around 60% ABV, is powerful enough to shine through, and add notes of rich vanilla, burnt oak, and smoke to presence of the Alesmith Brew.

Sweetness will build up, making this pairing perfect for lovers of Bourbon, and other sweet, dark beverages. After sipping on both, enjoy the long, gorgeous finish as the aforementioned notes mix and blend together.

4. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro with Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Moving on to a darker Beer category, we’ll be looking at the Milk Stout Nitro by Left Hand Brewing. Left Hand has been a pioneer in the US when it comes to Nitro Beers, which have a much creamier, smoother mouth feel which comes from the addition of Nitrogen in the Beer. The sweet Milk Stout comes in at 6% ABV and showcases a rich, smooth, mouth-coating character with notes of chocolate, roasted coffee, and milk.

Laphroaig 1
To balance out the sweet thickness of the stout, we bring in the peated, earthy Laphroaig Quarter Cask. One of the most popular distilleries on the isle of Islay in Scotland, the Laphroaig’s character is known to deliver abundant smoke, oak, and earth a top a light, floral backbone. Unlike other heavier Isaly expressions, the lightness of the Laphroaig works well with the Stout, and refreshes the palate after each sip.

5. Threes Vliet Pilsner with Hakushu 12 Year-Old

The Vliet Pilsner by Threes Brewing is an amazing example of the style, which is one of the most straightforward types of Beer out there. However, the simplicity of the Pilsner style is what makes it so hard to get right. Vliet comes in with the well-known initial crisp, refreshing impact of a Pilsner before opening up on the palate with notes of freshly cut grass, honey, and cereal. It’s fresh, light, subtly sweet, and perfect to drink on a hot summer’s day.

A sip of Suntory’s amazing Hakushu 12 YO keeps the experience moving forward, as the Whisky’s green, floral notes carry the Beer’s notes further along and enhance the finish. The Hakushu brings in green apples, pears, some mint, and campfire smoke. Both refreshing, both crisp, summery and crisp. A pairing made in heaven.

Hakushu
Before the experimentation begins, keep a few things in mind. Firstly, extremely hoppy or highly ABV Beers can be quite overpowering so you want to pair these with equally intense Whiskies. A 15% ABV Imperial Stout, for example, will completely take over a soft, fruit, and smooth Whisky. As a rule of thumb match intensity with intensity, be it of similar notes, or completely opposite ones.

More American Whiskey pairings

If you are into American Whiskeys and need more suggestions - here are three delicious combinations you can't go wrong with:

- Widow Jane Bourbon with dark lager
- Michter's Whiskey with pilsner
- High West Campfire Whiskey with Irish red ale

Michters
Now off you go and explore. Comment with questions and let us know of any amazing pairings you discover on the way. Cheers!



By George Koutsakis

George Koutsakis

As a half Greek Scotsman, who previously lived and worked in Japan’s Whisky industry for years, George Koutsakis is a spirits writer specializing in Japanese Whisky and spirits, world Whisk(e)y, and other drinks. He currently acts as head writer and Whisky specialist for dekantā, the largest online retailer of Japanese spirits.

 

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