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Event Recap | Tullamore D.E.W. & BuckleDown Brew: The Beauty of a Boilermaker

Boilermaker

A true celebration of fermentation — centuries of craft knowledge enjoyed one boilermaker at a time. I mean, who needs leprechauns and pots of gold when Tullamore D.E.W. rolls into town on March 15 with its decked-out tour bus and visits BuckleDown Brewing in the suburbs of Chicago? A host of people with thick Irish accents provided music to thirsty patrons’ ears with a chorus of Irish toasts and whiskey. Even better, the whiskey paired harmoniously with BuckleDown Brewing beer, orchestrated by its brewmaster and founder, Irish-American Sean Mahoney.

The party started at BuckleDown Brewing where participants toured the brewery, enjoyed some beer, listened to Irish Music and checked out the tour bus. From there, the party moved to a nearby bar, Irish Times, owned by Martin Lynch, a native of Athenry, County Galway, Ireland.

Guests gathered in a cozy cottage-like room behind (and separate) from the main bar. Jane Maher, Tullamore D.E.W. Brand Ambassador, and Mahoney guided folks through three boilermaker pairings, providing educational tidbits and terrific Irish toasts.

 

Mahoney and his staff at BuckleDown beer have mastered the art of providing strong hoppiness on the nose followed by exquisite maltiness — all the tradition of Reinheitsgebot combined with the influence of Ken Grossman. Meanwhile, Tullamore D.E.W. is the only Irish whiskey to enjoy the “Power of Three.” The whiskey is triple distilled, triple blended and triple cask matured. Clean. Crisp. Traditional, yet unique. Click here for more, cool information.

Whiskey and beer are forever linked, two libations sharing the same malty DNA. Nothing demonstrates that like tasting them side by side.

 

Boilermaker #1

Tullamore D.E.W. Original Irish Whiskey (40% ABV)
BuckleDown Belt & Suspenders IPA (7.0% ABV | 65 IBU)

Old bourbon and sherry casks age the malted barley of Tullamore D.E.W, providing citrus notes on the nose along with a bit of sweetness. The flavor transitions to notes of green apple and pear accompanied by earthy spices like nutmeg. At the end, the whiskey drinker enjoys a sublime nutty and vanilla aftertaste.

That sweetness and a bit of oak are begging for the BuckleDown Belt and Suspenders IPA. The lingering vanilla of the whiskey hits the aromatic hops in Buckledown for a wonderful sweet, floral and bitterness combination. At the middle, the beer takes over until, finally, at the end, the wonderful malt backbone of Belt and Suspenders returns the palate to the point where it all began with the first sniff of Tullamore D.E.W – terrific drinking symmetry.

 

Boilermaker #2

Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve (40% ABV)
BuckleDown Fritzicuffs Pilsner (5.0% ABV)

The traditional Pilsner dates back nearly 175 years to the Czech city of Plzeň and Irish Whiskey enjoys its own 1,000 year-old history. Despite the disparate cultural traditions, and the Fritzicuffs name, there’s no fighting Irish to be found here — the two are an exquisite pair.

The 12-Year-old offers big early spice on the nose followed by a bit of red wine and some woodiness from the oak casks. What follows is an earthy-spiced, yet delicate chocolate note and some dried fruit notes. At the end, one gets raison, a bit of chocolate, marzipan and pepper all lingering for quite a long time.

The bubbly nature of the yellow pilsner wakes up the palette again, and leads it on a journey through grasslands and grain — bringing the beer and whiskey flavor back to its origins. In many ways, it refreshes the palate as boilermaker #3 sat waiting for its turn.

 

Boilermaker #3

The Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix (55% ABV)
BuckleDown Shane Dry Irish Stout — Nitro (5.1% ABV | 40 IBU)

Akin to a July 4th fireworks grand finale, the third boilermaker pairing provides an all-out-explosive celebration of craftsmanship. Both are outstanding by themselves, but together the two drinks are absolutely superb.

The Phoenix enjoys some nice booziness that lets you know you are drinking a whiskey, yet the unfathomable smoothness allows for consumption easier than downing a glass of water (the best damn water you ever tasted). Flavors include rich toffee and vanilla notes followed by toasted oak and a little sherry. The predominant, and tasty, pot-still nature of this selection demonstrates why Ireland has been successfully distilling whiskey for 1,000 years.

The booziness warms and then the spice hits the nose and awakens the olfactories — preparing the way for the beer.

And then it was time for Shane.

For those that think stouts are “heavy” and “thick,” Shane will prove you wrong. Sure, the robust dryness is impossible to be confused with today’s plethora of juicy IPAs, but it’s light as a feather on the tongue. Traditional irish malt, Nitro-infusion, creaminess (almost like a milk stout)  and just a bit of hops that is noticeable with each sip. The smooth nitro quality combined with the sweetness put out the gentle fire provided by the Phoenix booziness. One is left, at the end, with a malty satisfaction that can only be described as imbibing nirvana.

 

Conclusion

The couple next to me were not Irish, but they did come from Kentucky – bourbon country, U.S.A. For them, it wasn’t about Irish tradition as much as Whiskey tradition, and they had nothing but good things to say about the evening — although they readily admitted to still preferring bourbon. That’s okay because this writer loves his bourbon, too — Four Roses, anyone?

For someone like me, and most others there, it was about embracing heritage, enjoying two (delicious) crafts steeped in history and having a really good time.

And, what could be simpler than good drinks, good friends and a good time?

Boilermaker
BuckleDown Shane Dry Irish Stout (Nitro), by Mathew Powers

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