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Can You Mix Beer and Whiskey? (And Should You)

Whether whiskey and beer should be mixed and imbibed at the same time or even one right after the other is a common question. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so I thought I would clear things up in this article.

Beer and whiskey can be mixed together. In fact, they are often mixed together to make a drink known as a boilermaker. Both whiskey and beer have a strong malty undertone, and when they’re mixed together, that slightly sweet and nutty flavor is enhanced.

Now that we know beer and whiskey can be paired together, let’s dive into why it’s an ideal pairing.

Beer and whiskey next to each on a bar ready to drink separately or as a boilermaker

What is a Boilermaker?

A boilermaker is a classic, simple combination of beer and whiskey. The whiskey is either served as a shot alongside a beer or mixed into the beer. It’s a very popular drink because there are so many pairing possibilities between the different whiskey and beer styles and flavors.

The boilermaker first became popular in the 1800s because of workers who built and maintained steam locomotives. These workers were called boilermakers, which is where the drink’s name originated. These workers would head to a bar after their shift and have a shot of whiskey with some beer. These drinks became the perfect combination for quickly easing the pain that came from a long day of extreme physical labor without making the workers extremely drunk.

How to Serve a Boilermaker

When ordering a boilermaker at a bar, many bartenders serve it as a can or glass of beer alongside a shot glass of whiskey. Some people slowly sip the two drinks side by side, and others shoot their liquor before chasing it with their beer.

Putting a shot of whiskey into the beer is an option, but it’s not recommended by most modern bartenders. They say that the best way to savor the two drinks together is to drink them separately.

Why Beer and Whiskey Go Well Together

Beer and whiskey are both made of the same 3 essential ingredients. These ingredients are grains, water, and yeast. You can’t make whiskey without making beer first. Because of this, these two drinks complement each other quite well.

Scotch whiskey glass on an old wooden barrel

Best Boilermaker Combinations

  • FEW spirits bourbon + Hefeweizen – This combination is best when these two drinks aren’t combined. Drink separately and switch between the two every couple of sips.
  • Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon + Coors – This bourbon is known to be spicier, and when combined with Coors beer, it makes it seem more sweet and rich.
  • Teeling Small Batch Whiskey + Guinness – This type of beer is very light and creamy. This mixture is great to pair with food.
  • Mitcher’s + South Beach Brewing Blood Orange Sunset IPA – This type of beer has sweet orange notes that pair perfectly with the rich caramel flavors that you will notice in Mitcher’s Bourbon.
  • Jameson + Guinness – These two drinks together create a sort of “Irish flair.” The Jameson is very strong, and the Guinness cuts right through.
  • Bulleit Rye + Schilling Beer Co. Alexander 10 Czech Pilsner – This beer is slightly on the bitter side. This bourbon is a little more on the spicy side, which makes them a unique pair.
  • Tullamore dew + Miller High Life – These two drinks combined make one of the most popular and well know boilermakers. This combo is very simple and accessible.
  • Elijah Craig + Alaskan Amber Ale – Elijah Craig has a very robust flavor that stands up to the beer quite nicely.
  • Stagg Jr. + Surly Brewing Darkness Imperial Stout – This bourbon has notes of baking spice, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate, which makes it pair well with the stout.
  • Wild Turkey 101 + Pabst Blue Ribbon – This beer is very light and crisp, which pairs perfectly with this bourbon.
  • Belle Meade Bourbon + Aval Cider – It is recommended that you sip on this bourbon instead of shooting it, so you will likely want to have each drink in its own glass.

Types of Alcohol that Shouldn’t Be Mixed

Beer and whiskey on a table with a man in the background

Beer + Wine

Drinking a carbonated beverage like beer and then drinking it with wine can tend to irritate the lining of the stomach, which can increase the rate of alcohol absorption. Starting with beer and then drinking wine right after may lead to faster intoxication. Plus, the hoppy flavor of beer doesn’t go well with the flavor of most wines.

Wine + Tequila

Wine is great on its own, but it is hard to pair with other alcoholic beverages, especially if you want to mix them. If you pair wine with tequila, you will get drunk much faster than you expect because of how much alcohol is in tequila.

Beer + Tequila

Drinking beer with tequila is another mixture that your stomach likely won’t be able to stand. These two beverages could also make your hangover a nightmare.

Whiskey + Vodka

Whiskey and vodka contain very similar ingredients and have about the same amount of alcohol. They both contain high amounts of congeners. Congeners increase your chance of a bad hangover. Sticking to just one of these alcoholic beverages at a time is definitely your best option.

Cola + Beer

While Rum and Coke is a very popular alcoholic drink, Cola and alcohol (like beer) can lead to a variety of side effects. These drinks can affect your mood and gut health, make you more susceptible to anxiety, stress, and depression, can cause inflammation, and lead to weight gain, liver damage, diabetes, raised blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Plus, many people think that the flavors of Coke and beer don’t go well together.

Energy Drinks + Alcohol

While a shot or two of alcohol mixed in with an energy drink is often served at bars, when alcohol is mixed with energy drinks or any caffeinated beverages, caffeine can potentially mask the depressant effects of alcohol. When these effects are masked, drinkers may feel more alert than they would otherwise. They might drink more alcohol and become a lot more impaired than they realize, which can lead to them getting hurt.

Differences Between Beer and Whiskey

  1. Beer is cheaper and contains less alcohol than whiskey.
  2. Whiskey contains high amounts of ethanol, which could potentially cause cancer. It’s best if drank in very small amounts.
  3. Beer actually contains a couple of health benefits and nutrients like vitamin B, potassium, and biotin. Beer can also relieve menstrual cramps and lower cholesterol levels.
  4. In whiskey, yeast is added to wort for fermentation. In beer production, hops are added to yeast for fermentation.