A lecturer of mine, who is quite a beer connoisseur, mentioned boilermaker shots/cocktails when lecturing about methods of yeast fermentation. Given he's quite into beer, I'm sure when he talks about a boilermaker, he's got a particular one in mind that would go well with a shot of whiskey. I'm not quite at the same stage of knowledge, and would like some recommendations.

Now I know you could put any whiskey and any beer together and it'd still be a boilermaker, but I'm wanting to find a pairing that works quite nicely - a dark ale and a smokey scotch? A pale ale and an Irish whiskey? As fun as it would be try every combo, I only have so much beer and so much whiskey, and could use a jump start.

I am Australian by the way, so I might not be able to get my hands on any particularly specific recommendations.

  • This is very open to opinion @GrumpyMammoth, and could get closed - everyone has their favorite beers and whiskeys for different reasons. What is "nicely" in your book is different for others, you're just going to have to try a few combos, and who says you're going to like them at all in the first place?
    – GdD
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 8:31
  • @GdD well surely a few combos to start me off could be alright? Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:32
  • Purely opinion-based, however I'd suggest checking some of your online resources. drinksmixer.com/guide as an example. Of course, sensory training would help. There are myriad beer and whiskey flavors, but understanding the various chemicals helps.
    – B. Wilson
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 22:58
  • Could you edit in something about what makes a boilermaker "nice" for you? The site doesn't work well for opinion polls, but if you can describe what properties you're looking for, then answers could be evaluated more objectively. Thanks. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 2:07

4 Answers 4


Having drank these when I was younger, I'd offer the opinion that beer and whisky shouldn't be mixed. The flavours, generally speaking, are usually not complementary, so the only real benefit you'll get from them is a quicker buzz.

If you want to go ahead with a boilermaker anyway I'd recommend getting a mid-range bottle of whisky. Something with some semblance of flavour and quality, but not so good that you're wasting a good liquor by mixing it with beer. Come to think of it, this rule probably holds true when mixing with anything, although I tend to use fairly cheap whiskies for cocktails.

In terms of specific whiskies, you could go with something like a Bulleit Bourbon or a Black Bush Irish Whisky, and if those are too pricey you could down-grade to a Wild Turkey or Crown Royal.

The beer you choose depends much more on your taste in beer, as the flavour of beer varies much more than does the flavour of whisky. In general, if you mix with a lighter, more generic beer the flavour of the whisky will be quite strong, whereas if you go with a stronger flavoured beer the whisky will be more subtle.

If it were me, I'd go the stronger route to mask the taste of the whisky, because when I drink a beer that's not really what I want to taste.


You will find that Porters/Stouts tend to hold up to whiskey/bourbon/scotch better than others. Though, I'm sure you'll find exceptions.

One of my favorites is New Holland's - Dragon's Milk with about 1.5-2 ounces of Crown Royal.


Newcastle (Brown Ale) + Maker's Mark (Bourbon)

Slightly inexpensive and the flavors blend pretty well. A lot of people have reservations on Newcastle though.

Sheaf (Stout) + Laphroaig (Scotch)

Laphroaig is the smokiest scotch I've had, and it sits nicely with a heavy stout or porter. I like a porter called Baltika number 6, but it's russian so you may not be able to get that one.


Generally speaking a boilermaker is designed to get you drunk quick and mask the the potency and flavor of the whiskey in the beer. That's why you are supposed to shoot it, to get it over with. I recommend you don't use craft beers or anything above mid-grade whiskey. The special qualities and flavors that set those things apart will probably be lost. Also keep in mind that a boilermaker is particularly expensive drink even using bottom shelf liquor, be wary of spending craft beer/top shelf liquor money on a drink designed to last less than 30 seconds.

However, for something lively or with pronounced flavor you may want to try something slightly outside of traditional.

Angry Balls: Drop Cinnamon Whiskey(like Fireball) into a 1/2 glass of Spiked Apple Cider(Like Angry Orchard. This is sweet and easy to drink, its known to get a party rolling

Or perhaps one of the most famous of these kinds of drinks: The Irish Car Bomb(I did not make the name up): Drop a shot glass with 1/2 Irish Whiskey and 1/2 Irish Cream into 1/2 pint of Guiness.
This creates a flavor similar to a chocolate malt.

If you really want a classic boilermaker I suggest going cheap. Drop some Old Crow into a 1/2 glass of PBR. Somehow they improve each other and make something that is actually enjoyable (by the third glass).

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