My Kind of Beer With Chris Goddard
It’s the middle of winter (allegedly) and my mind is wandering to things other than beer. Generally when it wanders my feet take me towards my bottles of scotch but I do have an open mind. The other day I was wandering through my local LCBO and I noticed a new addition to the Jameson family of Irish Whiskeys — Caskmates. Now I’ve had my fair share of beers aged in bourbon barrels but I haven’t had a lot of whiskeys aged in beer barrels so I decided to give this one a shot.
So the story goes, the Jameson master distiller met the master brewer for the Franciscan Well Brewery (part of the Molson Coors family in the UK) in Cork and over a pint or two and they decided to do some barrel swapping. Jameson sent over a few of their barrels and Franciscan Well traded in some of their Shandon stout barrels. On ratebeer.com the resulting beer, which first launched Christmas 2012, boasts a very admirable overall score of 95 — not too bad and much better than the plain old stout’s score. The whisky took a little longer to be released but finally a small batch was first sold in 2014 and the demand was so high that they decided to expand the original run and spread the love.
I’m a big fan of Jameson so this story is bound to have a happy ending no matter what the whiskey tastes like. I have to admit that I was very impressed with the finished product though. I don’t get a lot of the hop flavour coming through (really none at all) but I do get some added richness in the body with some chocolate and butterscotch notes. Overall the beer barrel had a really beautiful marriage with the whiskey.
There are a couple of other craft beer inspired whisk(e)y brands out there that are worth picking up:
J.P. WISER’S HOPPED CANADIAN WHISKY — The LCBO announced that this brand was one of their top sellers in 2015 which is no small feat. This whisky is “dryhopped”, which means they add the hops in as part of the aging not in the distilling, and aims to marry the flavours of our much loved citrusy IPAs with the rich notes of whisky. The effect is there to be certain but is more on the muted side keeping your traditional whisky flavours firmly in charge.
NEW HOLLAND’S BEER BARREL BOURBON — Another play on barrel aging whiskey in beer barrels that takes it one step further. The distillery is also a brewery and they produce the beer used to give the barrels that beery kiss. In a happy twist, the LCBO actually has both the bourbon and the beer used in the process (New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk) in stock so you can taste the interplay between the two and drink them side by side.