Amanda Perry

With all due respect to your college frat brothers and drinking buddies, you can pretty much forget everything they ever taught you about drinking. No matter how many Irish Car Bombs or Flaming Dr. Peppers you may have enjoyed or regretfully chugged in the past, I can assure you that there’s a tastier, more responsible way to pair liquor and beer -- one that doesn’t result in excessive gas, nausea, or spending the night curled up on the floor of a public bathroom stall.

The classic Boilermaker is composed of a simple beer and a shot of whiskey, to be enjoyed either simultaneously (as a “depth charge,” by dropping the shot into the pint glass of beer and gulping the mixture quickly), or one after the other (by downing the shot and chasing it with beer). But as I’ve previously pointed out for Men’s Journal, whiskey and beer lovers are coming to realize the beauty of sipping both beverages side by side, just as they’ve long been enjoyed in the United Kingdom for centuries. With the craft beer and whiskey renaissances of the last two decades, enlightened American imbibers are now recognizing how the pairing enhances the experiences of drinking both, too.

Of course, whiskey profiles vary tremendously from place to place (yes, even within a single country!), so nothing goes better with a wee dram than a frosty mug of beer brewed in the very same region as its distilled companion. Which is why I asked the master distillers, master blenders, and ambassadors of some of the very best American, Scottish, and Irish distilleries to pair their products with the perfect local beers. Hunt down the following duos the next time you’re in any of the following represented countries or U.S. states to taste all that each locale has to offer.

U.S.A.

Four Roses Bourbon
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Local Beer Pairing: Country Boy Shotgun Wedding
“I like pairing Four Roses Bourbon with beers that are rich and on the malty side. The light roasted malt of a brown ale and the barrel character of the whiskey connect with common notes of vanilla, caramel and chocolate. Together they intermingle to create a rich, rounded complexity that has nice overtones of hops and barrel oak to keep everything balanced. My local pick would be Country Boy Shotgun Wedding, which is conditioned with vanilla beans, and echoes the vanilla notes of a bourbon barrel.”
-Brent Elliott, Master Distiller

High West Rendezvous Rye
Park City, Utah
Local Beer Pairing: Wasatch Bobsled Nut Brown Ale
“Two of Utah's finest, the more assertive malt character and slight roasted finish of the Nut Brown Ale matches well with the dried fruit and spice backbone of the Rendezvous Rye. Brown ales aren’t necessarily spicy, but they have a wonderful complexity of malt characteristics which are more heavily roasted. The dried fruit and spice of Rendezvous Rye is intense enough to shine through the roasted malts of the brown ale, but will tie together well due to the molasses and dark caramel characteristics of the barrel maturation of the rye.”
-Brendan Coyle, Master Blender & Distiller credits:"High West Distillery" align:center

J. Rieger Kansas City Whiskey
Kansas City, MO
Local Beer Pairing: Boulevard Brewing Co. Pale Ale
“I pair our Kansas City Whiskey with Boulevard Brewing Pale Ale, a perfect ‘go-to’ beer: not too bitter, not too sweet. They complement each other very well. Taking a drink of the Kansas City Whiskey, you get the richness and a touch of sweetness from sherry. When you follow up with the incredibly balanced pale ale, that whiskey character blends straight into a delicious beer. Neither the spirit or the beer overpower each other and that, for me, makes a great pairing.”
-Nathan Perry, Head Distiller

credits:"Han Shan" width:300 align:right Hudson Baby Bourbon
Gardiner, NY
Local Beer Pairing: Mill House Brewing Co. Köld One
“With a base pilsner malt, a highlight of Vienna malt, and a lightly bitter noble hop aroma, Köld One is a supremely easy-drinking, 'krushable' Kölsch-style beer. Hints of green apple, floral notes, and an overall crispness nod to the underlying biscuity grain. It is extremely companionable to Hudson Baby Bourbon's round and friendly vanilla-toffee-oak trifecta. Neither overwhelms the other; it’s an easy, friendly conversation."
-Han Shan, US Ambassador

Westward American Single Malt
Portland, OR
Local Beer Pairing: Breakside Brewery Wanderlust IPA
“The sweetness and strength of Westward require a pairing that is similarly sweet and structured, and Wanderlust delivers. It has a clean hop bitterness balanced with malt sweetness, and bold hop aromas and flavors. Interestingly, Wanderlust’s mash bill isn't so dissimilar to that of Westward; I find that the malt sweetness of each accentuates the other. We also hold a special place in our heart for our friends at Breakside -- before we were making all of our own washes in-house, we were brewing over there.”
-Christian Krogstad, Founder & Master Distiller

credits:"Westward"

Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey
San Francisco, CA
Local Beer Pairing: Anchor Steam Beer
“Old Potrero Straight Rye is big and flavorful with rye grain, spice, honey and vanilla. It’s complex and has a substantial depth and mouthfeel. Anchor Steam Beer is substantial enough to be a great complement to the Old Potrero -- it is beautifully balanced with a great malt character, hints of fruitiness, and enough hop bitterness to make it all work.”
-Bruce Joseph, Master Distiller, Anchor Distillery

Westland Peated American Single Malt
Seattle, WA
Local Beer Pairing: Holy Mountain Brewing Demonteller
“I like how the character of our Peated American Single Malt combines with the tartness of this foudre-aged farmhouse ale. The saison-style beer also complements similar notes from our saison brewer's yeast.”
-Matt Hofmann, Master Distiller

Scotland

credits:"Glenfiddich" width:250 align:right

Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish
Dufftown, Speyside, Scotland
Local Beer Pairing: BrewDog Punk IPA
“This Glenfiddich expression is the first single malt finished in IPA casks, and BrewDog -- like the Glenfiddich Experimental Series -- is constantly challenging convention. The Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish brings the subtle tang of Challenger hops, while the Punk IPA has a wallop of tropical flavors from its New World hops. At the same time, the Glenfiddich has unique zesty citrus notes that pair exceptionally well with the beer’s grapefruit aromas.”
-Allan Roth, Glenfiddich Ambassador

Ardbeg 10
Ardbeg, Islay, Scotland
Local Beer Pairing: William Bros. Brewing Co. Fraoch Heather Ale
“I love everything that Williams Bros. do. Fraoch is just a great beer. It's a heather ale, so it's crisp and bright and full of natural grassy and herby notes. It has a taste and aroma of being outside in Scotland, really -- and I think that mirrors a lot of the natural flavors of Ardbeg 10. The smoke in the whisky makes a great contrast to the heather ale.”
-Brendan McCarron, Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks

credits:"[Laphroaig / Instagram](https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEvJBph9hB/)" width:300 align:right Laphroaig 10
Port Ellen, Islay, Scotland
Local Beer Pairing: Islay Ales Dun Hogs Head Ale
“Since Islay Ales Dun Hogs Head Ale and Laphroaig 10 Year Old are both barley-based, the pairing really brings out the grain influence in each. Aging Laphroaig 10 in bourbon casks lends vanilla and caramel notes to the product that marry perfectly with the creamy, chocolate qualities of the beer. Overall, smoke and stout are a great marriage of flavors -- as opposed to pairing the whisky with a hoppier beer, such as an IPA.”
-Simon Brooking, Master Ambassador

Auchentoshan American Oak
Dalmuir, Lowlands, Scotland
Local Beer Pairing: Drygate Brewing Co. Bearface Lager
“Auchentoshan American Oak pairs nicely with Drygate Bearface Lager. Both have cereal and citrus notes that play very well together for a surprisingly refreshing combination!”
-Robin Nance, National Ambassador

credits:"Auchentoshan"

Highland Park 12
Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland
Local Beer Pairing: Stewart Brewing LTD Radical Road Pale Ale
“I’m a craft beer fan, and usually try to seek out local brews when I’m away somewhere. My favorite style is heavily-hopped IPAs and a particular favorite is Radical Road Pale Ale from my hometown of Edinburgh. Its lovely, refreshing grapefruit and marmalade notes pair well with our Highland Park 12 Year Old and its notes of Seville orange and spicy peat. Both are to be savored and enjoyed, with the freshness of Radical Road behaving almost like a palate cleanser to awaken your taste buds.”
-Gordon Motion, Master Whisky Maker

credits:"Highland Park"

Ireland

Tullamore D.E.W. Original
Tullamore, Ireland
Local Beer Pairing: Carlow Brewing Co. O’Hara’s Irish Stout
“We love to talk about ‘malt cousins’ or ‘barley brothers,’ and in the case of Tullamore D.E.W. and O’Hara’s Irish Stout, this relationship really applies. Of course, Ireland’s beer history is very closely tied to our reputation for producing great stout. With O’Hara’s Irish Stout the taste is a curious mix of dryness and chocolate/coffee flavors which pair so very well with Tullamore D.E.W., as the sweetness of the whiskey balances out the dry bitter coffee notes of the stout. The fruity and spicy notes in our Tullamore D.E.W. Original also provides a lovely compliment to the chocolatey notes evident in the stout. As a pairing, it’s as good as you can get from two great Irish drinks.”
-John Quinn, Global Ambassador and Brian Kinsman, Master Blender