Ninkasi selected their flagship Total Domination IPA to pair with this "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey" and we agree that an IPA (even a hazy IPA) is the way to go with this one. We didn't happen to have any Total Domination on hand however we did have cans of their new-ish Prismatic Juicy IPA that created a far more complex pairing than we anticipated. Another local IPA, this time from Culmination in the form of their Phaedrus, made for a pairing that we'd be happy to enjoy for a significant session. Going further afield, the result of recent beer mail, we appreciated the fruity/juicy hops in Track 7 Brewing's Sukahop New England-style IPA as a compliment to this whiskey. Going even more intensely hoppy we also found Pelican's Beak Breaker DIPA to be a pleasant pairing with its combination of Mosaic, Citra and Centennial hops.
Diverting from hoppy beers were two others that to our surprise were also great pairs with the Bourbon. First up was a very interesting collaboration between Rogue and Brew Dr. Kombucha called Kulture Clash. Labeled as an "imperial blonde ale blended with kombucha tea" the 6.9% beer was a bit sweet on its own with a fruitiness that may have come from the beer or may have come from the kombucha. Either way the fruitiness was enhanced quite pleasantly by the Bourbon.
Going to a truly big beer, we cracked open a bottle of Brewery Ommegang Game of Thrones - Hand of the Queen. Billed as a barleywine with a hefty 11% ABV it drank far lighter and fruitier than any barleywine that has ever passed our lips. Putting the surprise on the beer aside, one half of our tasting panel loved the way it created a smooth, boozy pairing that might be further enhanced with a cigar, a lovely evening and plenty of time to enjoy the trio.
A fan of the aroma of the rye whiskey, the flavor takes a backseat to the Bourbon for us and made us more skeptical about being able to select beers that would make suitable boilermakers. Ninkasi chose their Yours Truly Easy-Drinking Ale, a beer with "a sweetly-toasted malt profile and delicate hop bouquet" to pair and we were happily surprised to find Stickmen's lightly flavored The Bee's Knees a winner. Using Pilsner malt, a sweetly flavored, lightly colored malt, and floral Tettnanger hops this beer likely works due to similarities to Yours Truly.
In thinking about other beer styles that might work, we reflected on rye-containing beers we've had in the past. Often the lighter based varieties allowed more of the spiciness of the rye to come out more than we would prefer whereas those with a darker base have tended to taste more balanced and "right" to our palate, even some that leaned malty. While overtly malty beers, like Pelican Sea 'N Red Irish Red Ale don't generally make our hop-loving taste buds sing we happened to have some on hand we figured we should at least give it a try. Indeed, when paired with 95 Rye the beer found redemption in our eyes. Here the maltiness of the beer made a fine companion to the rye of the whiskey.
Many thanks to the hearty souls who went on this adventure with us. Many thanks to the faithful readers who didn't pass over this post because there was something besides beer in it. We're always open to experiences that expand our minds and palates and hope you enjoy learning along with us.