Boilermaker Redux #BrewedAwakening

By / Wine + Drinks / December 21st, 2017 / 9

A few weeks ago I hosted an event at the quaint, funky little Hopscotch Whisky Bar in Uptown Saint John. My idea was to try a few variations on the concept of a Bollermaker. The standard interpretation is to have a beer with a whisky, beside it or poured into it. If you drop the whisky right into the beer, shot glass and all, some folks call that a depth charge. Some feel you need to chug the concoction to call it a Boilermaker, but that’s silly.

There are some theories that the drink is named after boilermakers from the UK. According to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers website, “The Oxford English Dictionary, widely regarded as the foremost authority on word origins, says the term ‘boilermaker’ was first used to refer to the craftsmen who built and maintained steam locomotives in 1834.” So maybe these folks drank whisky and beer together. Surely they needed a stiff drink after a REALLY hard days work back in those days. Apparently people were calling whisky and beer a Boilermaker at that time.

The greeting cocktail at Hopscotch

I wanted to try the concept with other spirits. After a greeting drink, Hopscotch’s signature beer cocktail, we did two flights of 3 New Brunswick beers with 3 spirits. The first flight was all New Brunswick, including the spirits. I poured Blue Roof potato vodka into Grimross Maritime Cream Ale, from Fredericton. It basically turned it into a Helles Bock, or perhaps a high quality Malt Liquor! Next was the heavily sprucey tasting Gin Thuya paired with Petit Sault’s Tante Blanche Witbier, from Edmundston. This really brought out the coriander seed that is used in both, and was a tasty combo. Last was Winegarden Estate’s Framboise eau de vie with Fredericton’s Trailway Beyond Reality raspberry beer. All raspberry, all the time.

The second flight was just whisky and ale. Nova Scotia’s Caldera Rye with Foghorn (Rothesay) Golden Grover pale ale produced something akin to a Belgian Strong Ale or Abbey Beer. Balvenie Double Wood Single Malt with Rothesay, New Brunswick’s Long Bay Bantam APA was a complex, but rather tasty, mess of a mix, whereas Buffalo Trace Bourbon in Moncton’s Pump House Muddy River Stout essentially faked a Wood Aged Strong Bourbon Stout.

We didn’t chug any of them, but I think we captured the spirit of a true Boilermaker.


Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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