What is a Boilermaker?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
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As a popular cocktail in many countries around the world, the boilermaker is a simple but effective blend of hard liquor and beer. While the preparation and serving methods may vary slightly from one location to another, the basic component of this beer cocktail is a glass of beer that is accompanied by a shot of whiskey, tequila, or vodka. The simplicity of boilermakers is the inspiration for calling the drink a shot and a beer.

The preparation and presentation of a boilermaker usually follows one of two approaches. Often, the glass of beer is pulled and served to the customer. A shot glass that is filled with vodka, tequila, or whiskey accompanies the beer. The customer then may choose to add the liquor to the glass of beer, or down the liquor in one quick movement and then chase the liquor with the beer.


A second approach is for the bartender to do the actual mixing of the two ingredients of the basic boilermaker. A glass of beer is prepared, with enough room left for the addition of a shot of liquor. The bartender may prepare the completed boilermaker behind the bar and pass the one glass to the customer, or pour the liquor into the beer glass after placing the beer on the counter. This second approach allows the customer to observe the amount of liquor that is added to the beer. Regardless of whether the bartender or the customer chooses to mix the liquor and the beer together, the combined mixture is referred to as a sidecar boilermaker.

A variation on the sidecar boilermaker adds another dramatic flourish to the presentation of the drink. In this instance, a shot glass filled with the liquor of choice is dropped into the beer. Because of the carbonation content of the beer, the result is the creation of a great deal of fizzing action. As the beer begins to fizz, the customer is supposed to begin chugging the boilermaker. This approach to preparing and drinking a boilermaker is known as the depth charge boilermaker.

While the exact composition and serving of a boilermaker will vary from one bartender to another, one factor is certain. A boilermaker is not created as a drink option that is intended for slow consumption. Rather than sipping, the boilermaker is properly guzzled down quickly, often resulting in an immediate rush or buzz for the customer.


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Post 1

A boilermaker is actually a craftsman who is a mix of a rigger, a welder and a steel fitter. We erect and maintain all types of boilers, tanks and pressure vessels, among other things.

The cocktail was named after the strong, and sometimes surly men who worked in our trade. All this typing is making me thirsty.

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