Bulleit set out on a search to find the best boilermaker tandem for their whiskeys. I boldly stepped up to the plate to help them in the endeavor, but decided to bring a local twist to the effort—seeking out unique DC craft brews for my beer and whiskey combos, highlighting some of what’s happening in the local beer scene. Here are the results.

Bulleit Bourbon & 3 Stars Brewing Madness Old Stock Ale

Bulleit Boilermaker 3 Stars Brewing

First up, I tried a pairing of Madness Old Stock Ale (12.4% ABV) from DC’s 3 Star Brewing with the classic Bulleit Bourbon. I actually asked for a recommendation at the 3 Stars tasting room, and they suggested the Madness for some of its background whiskey notes.

It was an instant success. Madness is creamy and malty, with vanilla and dark red fruits, altogether quite smooth and easy. It worked perfectly well with the rich bourbon characteristics of Bulleit, bringing out its vanillins and its char, while also cutting some of its spiciness.

A proper pairing I’d quickly recommend—but buyer beware, as you probably don’t want to enjoy more than one of these at a time lest you fall flat on your face.

Bulleit Rye & Guinness

Bulleit Rye & Guinness Boilermaker

OK, Guinness isn’t local—but it is universal. So there. Plus, they’re coming to Baltimore in a big way. And the timing for this pairing came right around St. Patrick’s Day, so the allure of Guinness was too strong to pass up. But yes, I failed with my local quest in just the second try. I’ll get back on track next time.

The choice of Guinness also created what in my mind was a tricky challenge. That’s because Guinness is one of life’s best simple pleasures, so pairing it with anything at all is a risk. Most likely, you’re just going to detract from the wondrous pure perfection of the beer.

However, the Bulleit Rye actually worked nicely with it, and alternating sips between the two created an enjoyable and somewhat unexpected interplay. The rye spice intensity—Bulleit Rye features a 95% rye, 5% malted barley mashbill— brought out the roast coffee notes of the Guinness, along with burnt toast, and malty sweetness.

Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old & DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter

Next in the series came Bulleit Bourbon’s older brother, the 10 year old edition. I went back to my local cause for this one, and picked up a six pack of DC Brau’s Penn Quarter Porter.

The beer offered quite a bit on the coffee side, along with a whole lot of roasty & toasty notes, with a velvety mouthfeel and chocolate in the background. That proved to work with the oak and vanillins of this well-aged bourbon, helping to bring out its sweeter characteristics. That also helped to balance the bitter notes from the beer.

A good pairing, but I think the two actually needed more contrast between them. Similar notes in each washed each other out a bit, so while they were enjoyable in tandem, a different duo likely could have been a bit more dynamic.

Have your own favorite boilermaker recommendations? Leave a comment below to chime in.