Even for a whisky lover like me, nothing beats a cold, crisp, effervescent beer at the end of a wild and crazy day. Much like its distilled cousin, there is a bounty of flavours to find in beer from all corners of the globe, and this month we are celebrating the magical pairing of the two! Traditionally known in Scotland as the ‘Hauf an’ Hauf’, the half pint of beer accompanied by a whisky dram is meant to be enjoyed slowly, letting each half enhance the other. It affords you a moment to sit back, take a deep breath, and reflect on the day, letting the flavours of each ‘hauf’ reel you in for some quiet comfort. Typical ‘Hauf an’ Haufs’ are composed of a Tennent’s and blended scotch whisky, but in the spirit of all things SMWS and challenging the norm, let’s pair up some Society drams with some of my favourite styles of beer in honor of the timeless Scottish institution.
A classic combination
A cold lager on a hot day, followed by a mouthful of salty peanuts or chips, is truly one of the greatest classic flavour combinations. I was hoping to try and replicate the salty profile washed down with a cool, crisp lager in a ‘Hauf an’ Hauf’ and am proud to say I have come rather close. First, pour a wee “Spicy and Dry” dram such as Cask 28.57 ‘Scrambled heather’ and follow that by a pour of a favourite lager style beer. For good measure, toss a bowl of nuts, pretzels or crisps on the table too! Now, kick off your shoes, and take your time tasting the two and enjoying the notes of pistachios and earl gray in the whisky. The texture, rich yet drying the palate is then fully saturated and refreshed by the lager. Top it off with a salty crisp and you have yourself a perfect way to end the day.
Fruit and spice and all things nice
For this next pairing, I’ll start with one of my favourite style of beers, the Belgian witbier, and find something to match its citrus and spice forward profile, that sits like a haze on the palate. I knew I’d want something sweeter and fruit forward to swirl around those spice notes, combining the flavours to create a moment of beverage bliss! A “Sweet, Fruity & Mellow” whisky such as Cask No. 112.80 ‘Park bench reverie’ fits that bill! The sweet delights of lemon puffs, treacle and clover honey beg for the spice of coriander and orange marmalade that the Belgian style witbier gives, creating harmonious flavours and one hell of a spice forward dessert on the palate!
Peat & Stout
Peated whisky is perhaps my favourite profile of whisky to pair with beer. I have tried many variations over time and have landed on the magical concoction of peat and stout. I lean more toward Islay style peated whisky like Cask 53.365 ‘Firecracker Roll’, as I always find this lovely vanilla undertone from Distillery 53. A nip of that, and soon followed by a sip of classic Irish stout (preferably on draught!) is one of the world’s many delights. This particular cask has these delicious notes of strawberry banana pancakes and a salted prawn finish that just sings as the velvety blanket of roasty toasty stout washes it all down! A no fuss, easy match!
Now, these are just three examples of how you can whip up a Society style ‘Hauf an’ Hauf’, but the limits are endless. These are meant to be talked over with friends, or enjoyed with your nose in a good book, or your feet kicked up and enjoying an evening outside. Take your time, let the whisky and beer create the magic, and most importantly, enjoy it! For more inspiration, see our October Outturn released this week!
I would love to hear what your ‘Hauf an Hauf’ combinations are, so please share them with us on social media @smwsamerica or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org!