Whiskey & beer: a conscious coupling

If Gwyneth Paltrow can coin a new term for divorce — a “conscious uncoupling” — then I can steal her thunder and create a phrase for things that just belong together — a “conscious coupling.” I’m talking about cheese and wine, peanut butter and chocolate, Laverne and Shirley.

In this list of obvious pairings is whiskey and beer. Back when we were allowed to drink in bars and not worry about contracting a virus that eats your lungs, if you saw me bellied up to the bar, I was most likely sipping on some bourbon while I guzzled a beer. Beer’s fizzy, cold, malty nature goes hand in hand with bourbon’s sweet but sharp bite.

Now, two local companies are joining forces to serve up a whiskey and beer that were made for each other — literally. The Kentucky-based brand Buzzard’s Roost has partnered with Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery to make Roosted Chiquen Brewer’s Toast Finish and Roosted Chiquen Sippin’ Beer, which are not only sold together but the creators suggest you drink them side by side.

Buzzard's Roost and Against the Grain
Sold together, sipped together. | Courtesy

You may have seen these products already, because they were released over the holidays. I finally got around to trying them out the other day when I met up with company founder and master blender Jason Brauner at his restaurant, Bourbons Bistro. I was there to sample his delicious eggnog, but he shared some of the whiskey and beer with me as well, and it blew me away.

Both companies chose the same toasted oak barrel profile to create their products, ones that showcase the same notes of vanilla and smoke from the oak aging process. The beer is an American lager aged on oak at 6.5% ABV, while the whiskey is a straight rye whiskey at 105% ABV.

beer and a shot
Beer and a shot! Go Buckeyes!

“Think of the staves we use in our barrels as a spice rack,” Jason said in a news release. “Picking and choosing flavor profiles, we can make a pretty good guess at what flavors will be imparted on our whiskey. Turns out — it also works well with beer.”

As I sit here watching the OSU/Alabama game, I’m enjoying the back-and-forth sips of whiskey, beer, whiskey, beer, especially knowing the flavors were designed with a purpose.

And it also makes me think of another conscious coupling: football and pizza. Order me a large cheese, please!

Pssst: While I was drinking — er, I mean conducting business — with Jason, he also let me try some of his latest project: Buzzard’s Roost Toasted Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey.

This should be out now, and let me tell you, it was absolutely sinister, but I loved every minute. A high-rye whiskey has a bite, and this was no exception. But the toasted finish rounded out that sting and created flavors that would make Martha Stewart blush.

Also at 105 proof, be on the lookout for this one as well!

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