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  • Writer's picturethefizzycoupe

Yinz want an Imp 'n' Arn?


Here at TFC HQ, we are super stoked because our favorite band, The Hold Steady, is doing several live-streamed shows this weekend. In a former life, we were musicians, so we have definitely been missing going to live shows this past year. The Hold Steady did a few live-streamed shows back in December, which we enjoyed from the comfort of our couch with full access to the home bar and cuddles from our pets.


Of course, we started thinking about what to drink during the show as soon as we bought our tickets. The Hold Steady is “America’s greatest bar band," and we always drink boilermakers when we go to their live shows. Why not carry on the tradition for the live-stream shows as well?!


The humble boilermaker: a shot and a beer. As with most alcohol history, its origins are murky. Most likely, it started as a post-shift drink slammed by factory workers at their local pub. Here in Pittsburgh, there’s even a term for it in the local vernacular of Pittsburghese: the Imp and Arn. (For our non-native ‘Burgh readers, it’s pronounced how it’s spelled, with a thick dose of Yinzer accent.) This refers to an Imperial and Iron, or a shot of Imperial whiskey and an Iron City beer — the preferred drink of Pittsburgh steel workers back in the day.


You know our philosophy here at TFC is to drink what you like, how you like it. That being said, there are a handful of historical ways to consume a boilermaker, which reflect the context and culture surrounding this drink for hard-working folks:


🍺 Shoot the whiskey first, and chase it with the beer. Obviously, slam both glasses down hard after drinking them.

🍺 Drop the shot glass full of whiskey into the beer glass and chug both. Also referred to in modern times as a depth charge.

🍺 Pour the whiskey into the beer and drink rapidly.


(Obviously, these will hit you fast! So, as always, please drink responsibility!)


Most people still drink boilermakers as a shot of cheap whiskey and a mass-market beer. (Except for cocktail bars, where they’ve elevated the boilermaker with more high-end ingredients, meant to be sipped, not shot.) If you’re feeling experimental and/or fancy and/or are curious about interesting flavor pairings, here are some suggestions to get you started:


🍺 Jameson Irish Whiskey + Guinness (or, sub the Guinness for a red ale) This is a great one for St. Patrick’s Day, right around the corner! 🍀

🍺 Rye + Lager

🍺 Tequila + Corona

🍺 Gin + juicy IPA

🍺 Campari + strawberry milkshake IPA


There’s really no wrong way to drink a boilermaker! Pull a beer out of the fridge and a bottle off the bar shelf and start pairing. Let us know what you come up with, and we hope to share a boilermaker with you at a live show very soon!



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