Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Pleasant Summertime Drink: Boilermaker

Dog days of summer . . . I love the heat, the balmy weather, any excuse to go to the beach, hang by the pool, tan, read cheesy John D. MacDonald detective novels and tune the radio to some classic '70's radio station playing Tony Orlando, Abba and who knows what else.  No brain surgery is getting done on days like these by me, and that's just the way I like it.

In this setting, my mind wandered and I ended up thinking about an email I got from a law school buddy, Arch.  He had this to say:

This summer I've really gotten into a drink called a Boilermaker, which is essentially a pint of beer mixed with a shot of whiskey.
Somewhat surprisingly, a lot of the discussion I've come across about this drink places Scotch fairly far down the list of preferred whiskeys to use. Bourbons typically top the list, followed by Canadian and then Irish Whiskeys (a "Jimmy and Guinny" is Jamieson mixed with Guinness).
This may be heresy to you but some Scotches mix really with beer: Guinness and Glenlivet 15 is a personal favorite.
This is a topic you might want to explore and write about on your blog, though you're in the best position to judge whether it'll upset the purists.


A topic I might want to explore?  Ahh yeah!  Anything involving Guinness will get my attention.  

Jimmy & Guinny
So, I poured a nice pint of Guinness, very chilled, and deposited into it two shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey.  

I took a pull and noticed the Jameson slightly lightened the taste of the Guinness and added a pleasant lemon/ginger note to the drink.  Nice!

Guinny & Glenlivet 15
 Try the Guinness with some Glenlivet 15 and you get a deeper flavor.  Plum and oak comes through and compliments the stout.

. . . 

It's all about experimentation.  Some whiskies work well while others don't or leave you baffled.  I thought Guinness and Amrut Fusion Single Malt would work, but it made the beer tart and off putting.  

Arch mentioned in another email that he tried Guinness with Highland Park 18 and the result was disastrous.  So, fellow malt explorers, you must experiment!  On paper or in the mind's eye, other whiskies might appear to work with Guinness, but you can never tell until you test your thesis.  I am thinking that Jim Beam Black is gonna work, the dark licorice and plum notes of the whisky I imagine will compliment the heavy malty nature of the Guinness, but who knows until it is tasted.

. . . 

And remember your boilermaker is not restricted to just Guinness.  Use your favorite beer.  Lagers and bourbons can work well too!  So, be a malt adventurer and let me know what works for you!


Jason Debly

P.S. The boilermaker is a beer cocktail that you must be careful with.  Very powerful and just drinking one can have the same effect as walking into the path of a Suburban.  Accordingly, moderation is a must!  I want you around to read more posts.

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved except for first close up photograph of glass of Guinness.  All copyright is the property of Joseph Depalma.  Use of the photograph is used here with his permission.  No reproduction is permitted without his permission. Any and all use of this post is prohibited without permission. Note: All images appearing in this article are for the purposes of nostalgia, education and entertainment. Moreover, all images used are considered by the author to be significant in illustrating the subject matter, facilitating artistic/critical commentary, as it provides an immediate relevance to the reader more capably than the textual description.


  1. Jason, That's a nice salute to an old classic, the Boilermaker. In my college days, the recipe was less important than one's budget ! Our Bees were made of some easy drinking (spelled cheap !) lager such as Schlitz, PBR, Schmidt's, or Olympia, etc.) and whatever decent whiskey was at hand. Then a steady move to knock it back without much pause. Last night in salute to your post, we pulled together something more exotic: a shot of Rittenhouse 100, alongside a pint of Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye. A double whammy, that one. It's a young man's drink. Hoo-wah !

    1. I think there are so many possibilities when you take beer and whisky. Some are going to work very well. Especially gentle lagers with light whiskies.

  2. I have experimented with adding just a couple teaspoons of Scotch to Scotch/Scottish ales with some good results. I have used Islays such as Laphroaig 10 yr or Bowmore Legend, with beer such as Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy and Highland Tasgall Ale. The flavor profiles are similar to begin with, and complement each other well.