Melbourne’s latest drink of choice is certainly making a splash amongst those who aren’t afraid to mix it up (literally). For those yet to be acquainted with the beer cocktail, a boilermaker consists of a shot of whisky with a beer chaser. The two are paired together so you can experience flavours you might not have enjoyed when only drinking one, and it’s recommended that you sip, rather than slam this drink. While the number of venues that have specific boilermaker menus is limited in Melbourne, many bartenders in all sorts of bars are happy to throw you a boilermaker recommendation. All you have to do is ask. Good thing we decided to ask around for you and bring you a list of the best boilermakers in Melbourne.
Since Boilermaker House opened earlier this year, brought to you by the masterminds behind Eau de Vie, many other establishments are deciding to add these bad boys to their drink menus. That’s not to say they were the first to do boilermakers in Melbourne (not by a long shot) but they have certainly helped rebuild its reputation. For a crowd-pleasing boilermaker, try The Speyside Rambler, which consists of a shot of Glenlivet 15-year-old French Oak followed by a Red Hill Pilsner. In addition to the drink, described as ‘a juicy apricot on a summer’s day’ it also comes with a small complimentary foodie offering of apple and salted caramel. For more substantial snacking, we recommend one of their charcuterie boards, covered in cured meats and cheeses from across the globe.
Home of the finest American whiskies and delicious craft beers, it would be a sin not to include the Kodiak Club crew on this list. These guys don’t muck around when it comes to boilermakers, and have a specific menu for those looking to get in on the action. Try their Dry ‘n’ Spice combination of Victory Hop Devil (Pennsylvania) and a shot of Knob Creek Rye (Kentucky). For something a little more local, unusual, and awesome, give the Bacon on Bacon a go; 3 Ravens Dark paired with house-made bacon bourbon. Order yourself up some hot buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce to accompany your beverages and you’ve got yourself a brilliant evening.
Our favourite dive bar with the nautical vibes is happy to make a suggestion when it comes to boilermakers, and engaging in friendly banter with this lot is always a pleasure. Because spring has well and truly made its presence felt in Melbourne nice and early, their latest recommendation is refreshing in both taste and its twist on tradition. A Lost Coast Sharkinator (white IPA) is a winner with its citrusy and floral flavours, making sure you get your spring off to a good start. Rather than pairing this with a traditional whisky, the Beaufort stocks 10-15 different gins at -24 degrees for occasions such as this. The recommendation was a Sipsmith London Dry Gin. Come for the boilermaker, stick around for a game of pool and some ribs.
Earlier this year, Atticus Finch hosted an event for Good Beer Week called The Mad Monk Boilermaker Extravaganza. Ever since then, people have been dropping by to recreate the magic that once was. The Boilermaker Plus was originally done with Monk Brewery’s Rauch, a hybrid of Scotch Ale and a Rauchbier, and a shot of Bakery Hill Peated Malt. Considering Monk Brewery is all the way over in Fremantle, the beer is a little tricky to get a hold of, but fortunately they have found a brew equally deserving of your taste buds: Cavelier Brown Ale. Owner Martin McQuilten recommends you pair this with the jamon they’ve sourced from Andalucía, Spain, to get the full flavoursome experience.
Whisky + Alement
The aficionados at Whisky + Alement have been championing the boilermaker since 2013 with its own special menu, and if it’s a good deal you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. From Sunday to Thursday until 11pm, you can nab a boilermaker for $10, which consists of a Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager, and your choice from a selection of whiskies, including Laphroaig Select Cask, Hakushu Distillers Reserve, Ardbeg 10-year-old, and Glenlivet Founders Reserve. If you are looking for something a little bit more premium, the Bartender’s Choice list is the way to go. After something smoky? Try the Peaty Pirate, with Pirate Life Pale Ale and Kilchoman Machir Bay – now that’s what we call bounty. If you’re really getting into pairing two types of alcohol, they also have a Sherry Cleansers (sherry and whisky pairings) list, filled with staff recommendations.
This former cigar bar turned whisky establishment has been doing Hawthorn proud since it opened earlier this year, and if it’s a boilermaker you crave, you’ve come to the right place. The Killer Boiler list at the Kilburn changes regularly, and features so much more than your regular whisky and beer combo. They’re not afraid to get a little adventurous by swapping out beer for cider or whisky for rum on the odd occasion; one such creation we had a little while back was the Elegant Geisha, featuring Suntory Kakubin Japanese blended whisky with Veratino Apple & Pear Cider. Delish. A recent favourite at the Kilburn is pairing a Douglas Laing Timorous Beastie Blended Malt Scotch Whisky with a Sample Brew Golden Ale, but don’t just take our word for it, get down there.
More of an early-morning person? Check out Melbourne's Best Boozy Brunch Spots.
Image credit: Boilermaker House