As The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s spirits manager Euan Campbell says, there’s a huge satisfaction to be discovered from savouring the big, robust flavours of a single cask dram alongside a thirst-quenching and complementary beer.
But what kind of pairings should you be seeking out?
Big Alan Wood, our genial ambassador at our Members’ Room at 28 Queen Street, is both a whisky aficionado and a beer buff, and he says that although there are no hard and fast rules, a good place to start is by thinking about pairing like for like when it comes to the strength of your two drinks.
“I tend to go for lighter whiskies together with lighter beers, and heavier whiskies with heavier beers,” he says. “For example, dark beers such as stouts or porters go well with whiskies from our Peated flavour profiles, or high strength whiskies.
“Pale ales are a good starter beer if you’re going to be enjoying a few beers and whiskies, as the flavours aren’t going to linger as long on the palate.”
From this month’s Outturn, Alan says: “Try pairing Cask No. 107.16: Truly a fairy tale with a pale ale. Cask No. 46.79: Chocolate, cream and malted Bali works equally well with a porter, or even a Belgian specialty such as the fruity, spicy saison beer.”
Beer expert Darren Blackburn from the G1 Group says that like matching whisky with food, you can go either for drinks that show similarities, or revel in the contrasts between them.
“You have two options, matching similar flavours together – for example a smoky whisky with a smoky beer – or go the other way with contrasting flavours, such as a sharp citrus beer to cut through an oily, rich sweet whisky,” he says. “What you do will depend on the whisky, the beer – and of course your own palate.”
Time to experiment for yourselves…happy sipping!
Malty beers with a higher ABV stand up particularly well with whisky, typically dark beers such as heavies, porters and stouts
Stay clear of extremely hoppy beers, where the dry bitterness can overwhelm the whisky’s flavour
Embrace the contrasts, such as a sour saison beer and a sweet smoky whisky
Sip the beer first, followed by the whisky so that you end with a big punch of flavour. The whisky can have a big effect on the nature of the beer on your palate
FIND YOUR PERFECT HAUF’N’HAUF COMBINATION FROM EACH OF OUR 12 FLAVOUR PROFILES
Ester Fest: Young & Spritely & Wheat Beer
Savour the complementary estery flavours of bananas and pineapples from the wheat beer with a feisty young bourbon-matured dram
Full & Funky: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow & Belgian Kriek Lambic
Pair the funky flavours of this fermented lambic brew from Belgium with the full-on fruity notes from this flavour profile
Light & Lovely: Spicy & Sweet & Pale Ale
Easy-drinking and lightly hopped pale ale is the perfect counterpoint for the whisky’s prickly spiciness
Thirst Slaker: Spicy & Dry & Lager
Quench your summer thirst with a lower strength lager paired with the strong aromas of our Spicy & Dry drams
For All Saisons: Deep, Rich & Dark Fruits & Belgian Saison
A bold pairing of fruity, spicy Belgian saison beer with this deep and indulgent flavour profile
Dark & Daring: Old & Dignified & Dunkel
Savour our oldest and most distinguished drams along with a smooth, malty dark German lager, to complement the whisky without overwhelming it
Entry Level: Light & Delicate & Pilsner
Waken up your palate with a Light & Delicate dram alongside a refreshing, hoppy pilsner
Sweet Dreams: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla & IPA
The whisky’s refreshing sweetness brings the best out of a more bitter and hoppy Indian Pale Ale
Summery Seaside: Oily & Coastal & Citrus Beer
Explore how a sharp citrusy beer cuts through the oily mouthfeel and marine notes from this flavour profile
Dark and Smoky: Lightly Peated & Stout
A deep, rich stout with a creamy head that’s light on the hops allows a Lightly Peated dram to shine
The Double P: Peated & Porter
Dive into a robust pairing of higher strength dark porter with a good blast of peaty goodness
Full Shilling: Heavily Peated & 80/- Heavy Beer
A full-flavoured old school combination with an 80 shilling that’s lighter on the hops and heavier on cereal to stand up to our most heavily peated drams
Find your perfect beer and whisky pairing by delving in to the Society’s latest Outturn, available here