For the Love of Boilermakers

Tullamore D.E.W. and a brew is a match made in Ireland.

Photo: Krystal Ramirez

Photo: Krystal Ramirez

Jane Maher has a sweet gig, made all the sweeter by the fact that the Tullamore D.E.W. brand ambassador is currently on a cross-country tour, spreading the gospel of Irish whiskey as well as one of life’s greatest pleasures: the boilermaker. No foo-foo mixologizing here: “The boilermaker is a great serve with an even greater history,” Maher says. “The concept of enjoying a whiskey and beer side by side is a long-standing Irish tradition. The term boilermaker derives from the Irish immigrant community in New York that worked in the locomotive industry. The local drinkers would say, ‘I’ll have what the boilermaker is having’—that being a whiskey alongside a beer.”

Whether you’ve toiled with your hands, your brain or not at all today, you can surely imagine the joy of shooting a bracing whiskey and chasing it with a crisp beer. Or perhaps moving back and forth between the two, taking note of the complementary and contrasting notes. However you do it, Maher would, of course, suggest that you D.E.W. it. “Whiskey and beer are like malt cousins: They share the same DNA, and for that reason, they make the perfect pair,” Maher says. “In order to make whiskey, we must first make a beer; we take that beer and then distill it. Like all great breweries, we use the finest barley, water and yeast to create our whiskey. A sip of whiskey followed by a sip of beer is a match made in heaven.”

Last month, the Tully tour stopped in Las Vegas with a twofold mission, to introduce the city to Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix, a limited-edition, higher-proof expression finished in oloroso sherry casks, and to bless a particularly special boilermaker. To make Tenaya Creek Brewery’s Phoenix Stout, head brewer Anthony Gibson soaked medium-toasted oak spirals in the Phoenix whiskey, along with Madagascar vanilla beans for 16 days. These then went into a stout beer for six more days, yielding two kegs—one for Atomic Liquors and one for Tenaya Creek’s taproom. “The rich flavors of our Phoenix whiskey pairs amazingly with the velvety chocolate notes of the Phoenix Stout,” Maher says. So amazingly that, of course, the beer sold out in a matter of days. Gibson will make another keg for his taproom for St. Patrick’s Day, but to experience a similar pairing at Atomic Liquors (917 Fremont St.,, barman Jeffrey Bennington Grindley suggests trying a neat pour of the Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix ($14) with a pint of Modern Times Black House Stout on nitro ($7).

Bottom line, there’s no wrong answer. “Experimenting and pairing different beers with Tullamore D.E.W. is great fun,” Maher says. “It’s our D.E.W., your brew. You decide what makes the perfect pairing.”

Three More to Try

Tullamore D.E.W. Original

A triple-distilled blend aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks.

PAIR IT: At The Griffin, bar manager Sean Eaton offers two possible mates for Tully original. While Big Sky’s Moose Drool makes a great palate cleanser for the whiskey, Breckenridge’s Nitro Vanilla Porter brings its own flavor to the party. Light and creamy, the draft beer is “like a Guinness but a tad sweeter,” says barman Eddie Haddad. “It also makes a great Irish Car Bomb.” But we won’t go there. Beers $7, whiskey $7, 511 Fremont St.,

Tullamore D.E.W. 12-Year Special Reserve

A triple-distilled blend with a high proportion of pot still and malt whiskeys, matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks for 12-15 years.

PAIR IT: “I am all about whatever suits your fancy, but the Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale is a natural pairing: smooth, with subtle hints of caramel, dates and a semisweet finish,” says Downtown Cocktail Room and Sip ’n’ Tip bar manager Kevin Gorham. “The whiskey has hints of spice—nutmeg and allspice—figs and raisins, and a bit of nuttiness on the finish. All of those flavors, they seem to just belong together.”
Beer $5, whiskey $8 (Sip ’n’ Tip), $12 (DCR), 111 Las Vegas Blvd. South,

Tullamore D.E.W. 15-Year-Old Trilogy

A triple-distilled blend matured in ex-bourbon, sherry and rum casks; the oldest Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey released to date.

PAIR IT: Putting their heads together late one night while the evening’s bands load out, Bunkhouse Saloon bartender Dillon Shines and bar manager Brandon Leopard come to an agreement that their Lagunitas Pils is the way to go. “It’s close to a boilermaker without being Irish, and the best lager-ish beer we have consistently,” Shines says. Trilogy’s exquisite fruitiness makes the beer more bitter and refreshing—a delightful interplay, especially while the smell of the fire pit wafts in. Beer $6, whiskey $12, 124 S. 11th St.,

Raise a Glass!

Jane Maher’s seven favorite toasts (to be read with a proper Irish brogue!)

“Here’s to stealing, cheating, fighting and drinking. If you steal, may you only ever steal a heart. If you fight, may you only ever fight for a brother or sister. If you cheat, may you only ever cheat death. And if you drink, may you only ever drink whiskey—with me!”

“May the roof above us never fall in, and may our friends beneath it never fall out.”

“To great women: May we know them, may we raise them, may we love them!”

“I have seen the best of you and the worst of you—and I choose both!”

“To all my badass girlfriends: Here’s to breaking the rules, because well-behaved women rarely make history.”

“Here’s to you, here’s to me. Here’s to best friends, we’ll always be. But if we should part ways, well, screw you and here’s to me!”

“Here’s to a long life, a happy one. A quick death, an easy one. A good guy, an honest one. A great whiskey, another one.”

Vegas Seven