Beer Whiskey: Perfect Pours for HopheadsBy Stephanie Moreno
Boilermaker: a glass of beer and a shot of whiskey—sometimes served INSIDE the glass of beer. It is—much like peanut butter and jelly—a combination that’s made for each other. But for us whiskey drinkers, we’re beginning to see entirely different kinds of beer and whiskey combos on the shelves.
Yes, it’s a fine time for beer and whiskey lovers alike. Check out these whiskeys below to see what we’re talking about. Go ahead and double down on this experience by ordering a cold brew as a chaser.
FLAVORED WITH HOPS
These whiskey brands below use hops, dried flower clusters used to flavor beer, to flavor their whiskey. Hops provide floral and bitter notes as well as citrus-like flavors so expect to find those here.
This Seattle-based distillery uses three types of hops to make this whiskey: Amarillo, Horizon and Chinook. Bonus points: all of the hops hail from the Pacific Northwest.
During the distillation process, Citra hops are placed in a basket in the still while the distillate passes through. This hopped whiskey has a spicy, citrusy kick.
DISTILLED FROM BEER
When making any whiskey, you start with grains. Those grains are milled, mashed and then fermented to make a wash—also called a distiller’s beer. But this “beer” isn’t at all pleasant to drink—and of course, it lacks hops, which flavor the beer. However, these brands below all started with ready-to-drink beer at distillation.
This practice isn’t entirely new. In fact, you’ll find some German beer brands have done this for quite some time and are often referred to as bierschnaps. That said, distilling from drinkable beer yields pricey whiskeys as a result. But they are definitely worth trying.
This was created in collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and Bendistillery, both based in Oregon. It is made by using the brewery’s Black Butte Porter beer to distill. Limited availability.
Charbay is no stranger to distilling ready-to-drink beer, as their R5 and S whiskeys represent. This new release celebrates the distillery’s 35th anniversary and the beers used include two that were custom-brewed just for Charbay.
Fans of Hitachino Nest White Ale should take note as that is what is distilled to make this product. Then, if that isn’t unusual enough, botanicals such as coriander, hops and orange peel are added while this whisky sits in oak for a month. It is then redistilled and further aged for six more months.
AGED IN BEER BARRELS
These brands took the Boilermaker to a whole new level. These whiskeys all finished their maturation in barrels that previously aged beer.
For this bottling, three separate India Pale Ale (IPA) recipes with varying hops levels were created. This single malt finishes its maturation in barrels that formerly held craft IPA beer. The first in the Experimental Series for Glenfiddich, this collection now also includes Project XX and Winter Storm, with even more releases to come.
The Grant’s blending team, led by renowned Master Blender Brian Kinsman, created this blend with help from a small Scottish brewing company. First released in late 2015, at the time, this blended Scotch was the only one on the market to have been finished in casks that previously held ale.
Of course we must also mention the much talked about Caskmates releases from Jameson. Both the Stout and IPA Editions are collaborations with Cork-based Franciscan Well Brewery. The lives of these barrels are in constant rotation. First, the distillery sends used Jameson-matured barrels to the brewery. Next, the brewery uses these whiskey barrels to cask-mature their beers. Then those same barrels get sent back to Jameson to finish maturing their whiskey. The barrels er, wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round…
Blackpitts Porter is made by Dublin-based The 5 Lamps Brewery. Their used porter casks are used to finish this single malt which was first released in February 2018.