You don’t need a hol­i­day to en­joy a boil­er­maker

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & DRINK - Ari­anna Au­ber

The Ir­ish have been sip­ping a shot of whiskey and a pint of beer side by side for gen­er­a­tions — an ageold tra­di­tion they call a pint and a drop and we call boil­er­mak­ers. And you don’t need the ex­cuse of St. Pa­trick’s Day to en­joy the com­bi­na­tion.

The pair­ing is ob­vi­ous be­cause Ir­ish whiskey is a dis­tilled ver­sion of beer sans hops, giv­ing the two boozy bev­er­ages sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics that make them acutely com­ple­men­tary. And although some Amer­i­can drinkers have come to think of this duo as a quick way of get­ting snock­ered, the boil­er­maker is find­ing its way onto the menus of cock­tail bars, re­turn­ing to the way it was meant to be en­joyed all along.

Bar­tenders are largely to thank for that — be­cause we, their cus­tomers, want to drink what they’re hav­ing. These have long been their after-shift drink: a quick, strong draw that takes the edge off after a long night of mak­ing cock­tails. Some­times, boil­er­mak­ers are meant to be a beer and whiskey sipped sep­a­rately, other times as a shot dropped into the pint glass. In­creas­ingly, they come as a beer served with some type of other spirit or liqueur.

“It might stretch the text­book def­i­ni­tion of what a boil­er­maker is, but I con­sider it to be a spirit and a beer, not just whiskey and beer,” Ja­son Stevens, bev­er­age di­rec­tor at La Cor­sha Hospi­tal­ity and its restau­rants, in­clud­ing Boiler Nine Bar & Grill, said.

Boiler Nine and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing bars each have boil­er­mak­ers on the menu. At Boiler Nine, it’s a be­guil­ing mix­ture called the Di­vine Ham­mer: a hal­founce of chilled green chartruese dropped into 10 ounces of Lone Pint’s Yel­low Rose IPA.

One Ir­ish whiskey maker wants to rein­vig­o­rate the more tra­di­tional pair­ing. With the Dew and a Brew tour, brand am­bas­sador Jane Ma­her of Tul­lam­ore Dew has been trav­el­ing across the coun­try to var­i­ous brew­eries — in Austin, she vis­ited the now-open Friends & Al­lies Brew­ing — pair­ing their beers with her whiskey. Her mes­sage is clear: “We never shoot our whiskey in Ire­land, never,” she said.

She said that shoot­ing a triple-dis­tilled Ir­ish whiskey like Tul­lam­ore would take away from its full fla­vor. Each ex­pres­sion is “a well bal­anced whiskey that hits all ar­eas of the palate, and there’s sweet­ness in the front, malti­ness in the mid­dle and a light spici­ness at the back. That just gives rise to very in­ter­est­ing beer and whiskey pair­ings.”

Ac­cord­ing to Tul­lam­ore, the boil­er­maker (also called “a ball of malt and a pint of plain”) spread from Ire­land in the 1800s, and not through the thor­oughly Amer­i­can drink of Ir­ish Car Bombs that we of­ten have on St. Pa­trick’s Day.

“The prac­tice be­came known as a boil­er­maker in the United States, where it was en­joyed by the work­ing man after a hard day’s la­bor,” ac­cord­ing to Tul­lam­ore Dew. “The name was coined by watch­ing what the Ir­ish­men who worked on the rail­roads were or­der­ing: ‘I’ll have the same as the boil­er­maker and his mate.’ Over time, the prac­tice grad­u­ally changed to mix­ing the whiskey and beer to­gether in a sin­gle glass or drink­ing the whiskey as a sin­gle shot, with the beer as a chaser.”

Bar­tenders are now a huge in­flu­ence on the boil­er­maker as they are of­ten drink­ing wild vari­a­tions on them.

Boiler Nine’s Di­vine Ham­mer is so named be­cause it’s a sub­tle wal­lop of a drink that rec­og­nizes how well IPAs with Mo­saic or Ci­tra hops, full of trop­i­cal fruit and citrus notes, pair with the fresh herbal fla­vor of green char­treuse.

“It’s as­ton­ish­ing be­cause you can’t tell where one ends and the other be­gins,” Stevens said. “You think you’re just drink­ing an IPA at first, but then the char­treuse notes come out, and then you’re just tast­ing each el­e­ment back and forth. They have to be com-

bined just right for it to work.”

He also loves sip­ping a sour brew, like In­de­pen­dence Brew­ing’s Red­Bud Ber­liner Weisse, with rasp­berry drinks like Clear Creek Rasp­berry Brandy or St. Ge­orge Rasp­berry Liqueur, two other com­ple­men­tary fla­vors. This fruity com­bi­na­tion was served frozen at Boiler Nine’s Deck Nine Ob­ser­va­tory Bar last sum­mer, but he couldn’t quite get it to catch on with cus­tomers.

Fla­vors friendly to each other aren’t the only ones that work with boil­er­mak­ers.

“Lone Star and Fer­net, on the other hand, are a strong con­trast of fla­vors,” he said. “That’s a clas­sic one with boil­er­mak­ers. Peo­ple also like Te­cate and tequila, which is pop­u­lar with my group of friends. My thing for awhile was a pony of Miller High Life with Amaro Meletti. At the end of a shift, at most of our in­dus­try bars around town, bar­tenders will have an in­ex­pen­sive beer and some form of amaro.”

For his part, Justin Lav­enue, the co-owner of the Roo­sevelt Room down­town, is “a huge fan of hav­ing a co­pita of mez­cal with Modelo,” he said. “I go a lit­tle more Mex­i­can with my boil­er­mak­ers. Typ­i­cally you’ve got mez­cal that is a lit­tle higher proof, so you need some­thing, I’ve found, that is a lit­tle sweeter.”

But on March 17, the cock­tail bar that em­pha­sizes the clas­sics will pay trib­ute to Ir­ish tra­di­tion by of­fer­ing a pour of Jame­son Cask­mates paired with a rich stout. That’s a par­tic­u­larly apt pair­ing: The Ir­ish whiskey is fin­ished in for­mer stout bar­rels, which “im­parts amaz­ing choco­late and cof­fee notes,” Lav­enue said.

The St. Pa­trick’s Day cel­e­bra­tion at the Roo­sevelt Room starts at 5 p.m. Or, if you’d pre­fer to party at home, have Friends & Al­lies Noisy Cricket Ses­sion IPA with Tul­lam­ore Dew’s 15 Year Old Tril­ogy and no­tice how the citrus fla­vors in both come to life in a new way.


How should you drink your boil­er­maker? The mak­ers of Tul­lam­ore Dew, an Ir­ish whiskey, be­lieve the whiskey and beer (in this case from lo­cal Friends & Al­lies Brew­ing) should be en­joyed side by side.


When en­joy­ing a boil­er­maker on St. Pa­trick’s Day, try an Ir­ish whiskey with a beer that has sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics for a com­pli­men­tary pair­ing.


The Di­vine Ham­mer at Boiler Room is made with a half ounce of chilled green char­treuse and 10 ounces of Yel­low Rose IPA from Lone Pint, in a be­guil­ing boil­er­maker mix­ture.


For St. Pa­trick’s Day, the Roo­sevelt Room is serv­ing Jame­son Cask­mates with a stout be­cause the whiskey is per­fect with the beer: Jame­son’s spe­cial edi­tion whiskey was aged in beer bar­rels.

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