By Paul Barry | Assistant Beer & Spirits Buyer
This week I’m taking a look at Irish whiskey and beer pairings. 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 whiskey and beers there is something for everyone.
Slane Whiskey with Sullivans Red Ale
This smooth and robust whiskey with flavours of rich caramel, butterscotch and dried fruit, calls out for a match with a good red ale. Sullivans is one of the best with its smooth and creamy body and flavours of caramel, toasty malt and soft red berried fruit.
Writers Tears Single Malt 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.
Natterjack with 9 White Deer Saor Stout
Natterjack is finished virgin American oak casks which lend a rich sweet vanilla character throughout the taste, before finishing with some bright orange zest and spice. This is picked up by the Madagascan vanilla and cacao nibs used in brewing this soft smooth stout. Orange chocolate with smooth vanilla overall, what’s not to like?
Powers 3 Swallow with Blue Moon
This classically styled single pot still whiskey throws out some wonderfully delicate orange peel and sweet spices that are such a great match for the citrus and coriander of the Blue Moon creating a host of intermingled flavours.
Connemara with 12 Acres 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.
Teeling Small Batch with Lagunitas 12th of Never
Teelings blend of malt and grain whiskeys is sweethttps://obrienswine.myshopify.com/products/teeling-small-batch-wsk-70cl and fruity on the palate with plenty of apricot and pear fruit before turning dryer on the finish. This fruit is picked up by 12th of Never, with more of a candied character and more citrus, experienced in concert with the long dry finish of the whiskey.
You will find these whiskeys on offer in our Irish Whiskey Sale and we also have offers across a range of craft and world beers. So, if you would like to experiment with your own pairing there is a lot to choose from.
Whiskey Sale ends 29th March 2020.