Earlier this summer, Jameson Irish Whiskey invited several American craft brewers to come to their distillery in Ireland to meet with the people who make Jameson and learn about their process. The schooling and travel was all a part of Jameson's "Drinking Buddies," and part of the sweet deal was that you left your visit to the distillery with one of the Jameson whiskey barrels to use in the beer aging process. This year, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. was invited along with four other American breweries (Captain Lawrence from outside New York City, Great Divide in Denver, Angel City in Los Angeles and Hilliard’s in Seattle) to receive a Jameson barrel and make a beer that "pay[s] homage" to the brewery. The beer that DEBC crafted is a limited run of their Local Legend.
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To unveil their newest concoction, DEBC held a private event this week co-hosted by Jameson. After checking in at the brewery, each attendee was given two tokens to spend. Since it was an unveiling, you might assume people would use the tokens on the new beer, but many people were ordering other DEBC beers or drinking a Jameson and ginger beer. Not me. I made a beeline for the bar where a commemorative glass was given away, and was glad I did.
The first thing that stands out about DEBC's newest creation is its color; it looks almost black. That first sample didn't have much aroma, but this Local Legend is much better than many other DEBC offerings. The taste of the Jameson Edition is complex, containing hints of coffee, chocolate and whiskey. No particular aspect overpowered the others, which combined with a really smooth taste and medium-to-heavy body to make a surprisingly good beer. Balance like that is rare in barrel-aged beers, particularly when the beer is, as I was told, around 8 percent ABV. To really seal the deal, the aftertaste of Local Legend: Jameson Edition is mild, with only a hint of bitterness.
While no one could give me specifics on how long Local Legend: Jameson Edition will be on tap, head out to the DEBC taproom and order a pint this week if they still have some. While not every DEBC beer is going to be well-regarded, this version of Local Legend will likely win over a few beer snobs.