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Mixing Beer and Whisky: 5 reasons they’re the perfect match

ballantines berry beer drink

We’re here to dispel any myths about combining whisky with beer, and explain why these two favourites are actually a perfect match. 

As two of the most popular alcoholic drinks out there, you may have never seen them being enjoyed together before, perhaps you’ve even heard that it’s a bad idea to mix beer with a spirit such as whisky. As long as it’s done in moderation and responsibly though, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

And we don’t just have one reason, we have five. Here they are…

Whisky and beer are made from the same ingredients


Let’s kick off with a rather substantial reason as to why whisky and beer are a match made in heaven: they’re made from pretty much the same ingredients. 

These ingredients are water, grains and yeast. We’ll forgive you for being a little mind blown.

While beer also contains hops, there’s no denying that there’s a big overlap in the ingredients of these two beverages. And therefore, there are also certain similarities in flavour profiles between whisky and beer. 

Now don’t get us wrong, we’re definitely not saying that if you closed your eyes the two would be indistinguishable from each other. Whisky has distillation and lengthy maturation to thank for a higher ABV and far more complex and smooth taste, whereas beer is more thirst quenching, often carbonated and much milder. But the similarities in their ingredients give both drinks a slightly reminiscent flavour, and this can be played upon in whisky cocktails and drinks.

Complementary flavour pairings


This brings us onto our next reason why beer and whisky is an ideal pairing. 

Both whisky and beer have a strong malty undertone, you know that slightly sweet and nutty flavour? This trace from the raw materials shines in both, and even more so when drank together.

The hauf an a hauf

Have you ever heard of “a hauf an a hauf”? In Scotland, where single malt whisky originated and where we call home here at Ballantine’s, it’s not unusual to order a whisky with a half pint of beer at the pub or bar.

The drinker will usually have a sip of each in turn, making this an ideal way to try pairing different whiskies and beers together to see what works.

The boilermaker drink

The boilermaker drink is another popular way to combine whisky and beer. It is believed to have originated in Montana in the late 1800s. Originally called a Sean O’Farrell, it was a popular order for miners at the end of their shifts and consisted of a shot of whisky served with a beer chaser. There is an alternative way to serve a boilermaker drink though. You can mix them together by adding the shot of whisky, glass included, into your pint just like other ‘bomb’ or ‘depth charge’ drinks.

Remember, everyone has a different palate, and what your friend thinks makes a great pairing may not be your cup of tea… or dram of Scotch. The fun part is that there are endless whisky and beer combinations to try. 

We live in a day and age where there are tons of different beers on the market, from traditional ales, refreshing European lagers and quirky American IPAs, and the same can be said for whisky. There’s more choice out there than ever before, including whisky spirit drinks. 

Check out our whisky collection and see what takes your fancy.

Delicious flavour contrasts


In addition to finding complementary flavour profiles, it’s also fun to find flavour contrasts between beer and whisky.

Cutting through a flavour or aroma with something totally different can elevate a drink further and make something truly special. That’s why lots of our whisky cocktails have a blend of both sweet and sour flavours. This can also be seen in classic cocktails, such as the iconic Whisky Sour.

Our Berry Beer cocktail is a great entry point for experimenting with contrasting whisky and beer flavours. 

This fruity cocktail will see you drink lager like you’ve never drank it before. Our signature whisky, Ballantine’s Finest, is paired with a light beer or lager of your choice, plus blueberries, lemon, honey and ice to create a unique whisky and beer flavour sensation.

Try it out with different lagers and discover which flavour pairings work with or oppose each other best.

ballantines finest whisky sour

Whisky Sour

This cocktail is 150 years old, yet you’ll still find it in the trendiest bars. Give it a go with your favourite Ballantine’s!

ballantines berry beer drink

Berry Beer

Ballantine’s, Beer & Blueberries? There’s no wrong way.


Make a refreshing long drink


Following on nicely from our previous point, beer can transform a dram into a refreshing long drink. 

While we love whisky on the rocks or on its own as much as the next whisky obsessive, we appreciate that some days and occasions call for a longer drink that’s going to satiate a healthy thirst.

Whether you try a whisky and beer combination like the classic Boilmarker (which is literally just a shot of whisky in a beer of your choice), a fruity whisky and beer cocktail such as our Berry Beer, or take the Scottish approach with a hauf an a hauf, pairing whisky with beer can lengthen your whisky drinking experience and provide you with some unique new flavour fusions.

Just keep in mind that lots of these whisky and beer combos are pretty strong, so be sure to keep an eye on the units you’re consuming! Responsible drinking is essential to every single Ballantine’s whisky cocktail.

A chance to be creative


Finally on our list of five reasons why beer and whisky is the perfect combination, is that it’s a creative way to use both beverages.

Creativity is a big part of mixology, as is being open minded. Like we said, everyone has a unique palate and their own preferences. That’s why there’s no right or wrong way to drink whisky, and why we encourage people to taste whisky with zero expectations. You never know what aromas and notes you’re going to find, and there’s no “correct” answer.


If you’re feeling in a rut with your alcoholic beverage preferences, or have some beers to use up, why not try out some of these whisky and beer mixes and inject something brand new into your repertoire?


A rich, dark beer with roasted malt or roasted barley, often featuring flavours of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. Stout’s bold and robust flavours can complement the smoky, peaty notes found in Scotch whiskies, creating a complex and flavourful combination.


Similar to stout but generally lighter in body and flavour, porter also offers roasted malt character with notes of chocolate and caramel. Its slightly sweeter profile compared to stout harmonises well with the smoothness of certain scotch whiskies, adding depth and complexity to the overall taste.

Scotch ale

As the name suggests, scotch ale has a connection to Scotland, making it an obvious pairing for scotch whisky. It’s typically a strong ale with malty sweetness and hints of dried fruit or toffee. These notes are a surefire match with the caramel and fruit notes in our range of blended scotch whiskies.

Smoked beer

Smoked beer is brewed with malt that has been dried over an open flame, imparting a distinct smoky aroma and taste. When combined with scotch whisky, especially one with pronounced smoky or peaty notes, the smokiness of the beer amplifies the smokiness of the whisky, creating a bold fusion of flavours.

Pale ale

Pale ale is a lighter style of beer known for its crispness, moderate hop bitterness, and refreshing aftertaste. And it works beautifully with scotch, especially when served over ice. The beer’s effervescence and mild bitterness provides a pleasant balance to the warmth and depth of the whisky, making it a satisfying option for casual sipping and summer sessions.

If you’re feeling in a rut with your alcoholic beverage preferences, or have some beers to use up, why not try out some of these whisky and beer mixes and inject something brand new into your repertoire?

That brings us to the end of our five reasons why whisky and beer is a perfect combination. All that’s needed is an open mind and you’ll open the barrel to endless deliciously unique beer and whisky unions. 

Some may be better than others, some may contrast, some may complement…but that’s all part of the fun. Discover more about how to drink whisky, or why add beer to a whisky themed party for a seriously creative get together?

Now you’ve learnt how well beer and whisky work together, why not learn more about some other great pairings. Find out which snacks to get in for your next whisky night, see what drinks to serve at the next Super Bowl or take a look at more drink ideas in our whisky cocktails collection.

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