By Paul Barry | Assistant Buyer: Beer & Spirits
This week I’m taking a look at Whiskey and craft beer pairing. Far from a whiskey chaser quickly washed down with a beer we are looking at beers and whiskeys that work well together and compliment both.
The reason whiskey and beer pair so well is because, in essence, a whiskey is a beer that has been distilled, where the evaporation separates the alcohol from the other components. The aging in oak creates another layer of flavours and aromas in the whiskey with can pair beautifully with many craft beer styles.
To create a good match you want to seek out flavours that work in harmony with each other or where the contrast works to heighten the experience and where sipping each in turn draws your attention to an element of the beer or whiskey. Firstly take a sip of the whiskey and let it sit on your tongue as the flavours envelop your mouth, swallow and appreciate the finish. Only then take a sip of the beer and see how the flavours interact with each other.
Here are a few of my own matches, of course everyone’s palate differs but there is so much choice with Irish whiskey and craft beers there is something for everyone.
Writers Tears Single Malt Red Head with Killarney Scarlet Pimpernel
In general, you should probably stay away from IPAs where the bitterness overpowers the flavours of the whiskey, however, I find the orange fruit note that grows on the finish of the excellent Red Head melds with the orange pith bitterness of the Killarney Scarlet Pimpernel while its smooth finish draws you in for another sip of whiskey.
Teeling Single Cask Amarone with Sullivans Red
For our own exclusive bottling from Teelings, we finished a 10 year old single malt in Italian Amarone wine barrels. This gives a berry and dried fruit character alongside marzipan and spice. This works beautifully with the red berry and toasted caramel of Sullivans Maltings Red.
Irishman 12 year old with 9 White Deer Stag Saor Stout
This is a classic combination. The Irishman is matured exclusively in ex-Bourbon barrels which lend a rich sweet vanilla character throughout the taste, before finishing with fudge and dark chocolate. This is picked up by the Madagascan vanilla and cacao nibs used in brewing this soft smooth stout.
Connemara Peated Malt with 12 Acres Single Malt Lager
Here I’ve gone for contrast where the full-bodied peat whiskey is lifted by the delicate Kolsch style beer with the whiskeys smoky character persisting to the delicate spicy hop finish on the beer.