When Lucifer first offered Adam and Eve the apple that gave us original sin, they had to think on it. After all, it was just a freakin’ apple and who cares? Now, had that snake plunked down from a branch perfectly balancing a tray with two ice-cold craft beers and a couple shots of whiskey, the whole getting-thrown-out-of-Eden thing would’ve been infinitely more interesting. “You don’t know us, we’ll make our own Eden with blackjack and hookers!” they’d scream as the gates shut for eternity. But, they didn’t ask Masters of Brewtality for help writing Genesis, so, to make up for that grievous error, we caught up with Flagstaff Brewing Co. brewer Stuart Howe and barkeep/whiskey-monger Mitch Kramer to discuss the most sinful booze combination this side of Purgatory: beer and whiskey. And just in time for Flag Brew’s 23rd anniversary!
Mike Williams: How the “annibeersary” party go?
Stuart Howe: It was on the 21st and we had Muskellunge play! Full patio party. We blocked off the whole alleyway and opened it all up for a dance floor. There were four special release casks and all of the guest taps were taken over for Flagstaff Brewing Co. beers.
Flag Brew has one of the best whiskey and scotch selections in town. Mitch, can you tell us your go-tos?
Mitch Kramer: For scotch, definitely Monkey Shoulder. It’s one of the few blends we carry. It’s usually single malt, but have a couple statesides that feature the last three distillers that still hand-turn their malt. The guys that actually do that get these big ol’ buff shoulders like monkeys, hence the name. It’s a nice, mellow, heathery-honey flavor with light peat. Super delicious little scotch for summertime.
Masters of Brewtality enjoys a drink that is as potent as it is delicious. What would you suggest for a boiler maker, which for the uninitiated is a shot of whiskey or scotch dropped into a beer and chugged? Also, a favorite of X-men’s Wolverine!
Howe: Whoa … I’ve never done that but I imagine a scotch into a porter would do quite well. My scotch is Lagavulin 16 Distillers Edition. Normally, I can sit on a dram for 45 minutes; but I get one of those, it’s gone in 15.
The Ron Swanson special! Mitch, same question.
Kramer: I’d stick with the Monkey Shoulder, but mix it into the amber. That malt and honey would balance that out deliciously. That’ll either start or finish off the evening just right.
Now, you’ve got some great food here, too, let’s talk food/beer/shot combos.
Kramer: The house-made potato chips. We slice the chips and fry them here and toss them with garlic butter. That paired up with the Bubbaganouj and Basil Hayden is mother’s milk right there.
Howe: I’m a poutine guy through and through. Poutine and a porter finished off with a Lagavulin.
We’ve all had evening out where you’re ballin’ on a budget. What could we pair up that’s not going to break the bank?
Kramer: We try to keep all our beers, whiskeys and scotches reasonably priced, so I’d say hit the happy hour from 4–7 p.m. for a Bubbaganouj and our Eagle Rare is $6. Great seven-year bourbon.
Howe: The Bubbaganouj, our flagship beer, that’s definitely going to pack the most punch for your dollar.
Journalists who write demonically themed craft beer features don’t generally pull in the big bucks, but we can dream … What’s the most expensive scotch and beer you’ve got?
Kramer: The Edward Dewar 30 year is our highest priced, above-the-board scotch and that’s running $65 a shot. Nice and light, with an apple brightness to it, real medium on the peat.
Howe: Our cask beer comes out so infrequently, so we do up the price on that. The conditioning takes a lot more time, as well, which is the traditional way. A lot more work goes into it and it’s the way it’s been made for thousands of years before the introduction of carbonation. I’m really excited about our dried orange peel and peach release.
Final question: Hidden in the backroom there’s a near-mythic bottle of Vietnamese whiskey with a cobra and scorpion pickled in the bottle. We’ve only tried it once and immediately painted the breakroom garbage can with entire contents of our stomach. What can the average customer do to try this vile poison?
Kramer: (Laughs) Nothing! Right now, go to Vietnam. That was brought back by one of our cook’s dad who lives there.
Howe: Only the lucky few get to even see that. It takes a long time to get at it.