In June, it was revealed that Deep Ellum Brewing Co. was among five American breweries chosen to participate in Drinking Buddies, a craft beer collaboration effort spearheaded by Jameson Irish Whiskey.
As part of the program, each brewery was invited to visit the distillery in Ireland, after which they were provided with fresh Jameson barrels to use in the creation of an inspired barrel-aged beer. For Deep Ellum, the result of this partnership is Local Legend – Jameson Edition, which was introduced to the public for the first time at a private event held at the brewery on Tuesday evening.
The project represented a unique opportunity for all those involved, according to Patrick Caulfield, senior brand manager for Jameson’s parent company Pernod Ricard USA. That, he says, is due to the fact that “aging any kind of beer in Jameson whiskey barrels is something that’s never been done before in the United States.”
One of the reasons, he explains, is because “it’s really hard to get whiskey barrels from Ireland due to a whiskey shortage” and there’s simply not enough supply to meet demand.
To that end, Jameson earmarked only thirty barrels to the Drinking Buddies initiative, with six going to each of the five brewery partners.
“Choosing the right partners was a big thing,” said Caulfield.
It was a process that started out by focusing on breweries in Jameson’s best performing markets. Beyond that, it was about identifying breweries that shared certain characteristics with the distillery and its surrounding community. Naturally, the breweries had to have a passion for their craft and be committed to doing things the right way, but equally important was a connection to their hometown neighborhood and the support of local bartenders serving their product on a daily basis. Judging with those criteria, Jameson determined that Deep Ellum was the right fit for Dallas.
As for the making of Local Legend, it’s a barrel-aged version of Deep Ellum’s Legendairy milk stout, something which includes a touch of local flavor in the form of roasted Texas pecans. The base beer spent a little more than three months in the Jameson casks, after which it was blended with a fresh batch of Legendairy and tweaked a bit to give it additional chocolate flavor. That element comes across somewhat prominently when drinking the beer, as do the pecans, with the barrel components contributing light tannins and a fair amount of warmth to the finish.
“We believe we have come up with a pretty fantastic beer,” said John Reardon, founder of Deep Ellum. ”
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the Jameson barrels. That’s really what’s important. They added an element… a certain something… that we just couldn’t create on our own.”
Caulfield agrees in saying that “the end product is really good,” a seemingly fitting end to what he calls a rewarding journey for himself personally and for the brand.
“To get here and to actually have a product to be able to drink, taste, smell, experience and to see the characteristics of the whiskey come through has been really exciting.”
Regarding availability, based on the number of barrels used in this batch, it should be noted that quantities of Local Legend – Jameson Edition are extremely limited. For comparison, only two barrels were used in making Barrel-Aged Four Swords, which debuted in Deep Ellum’s taproom prior to its release in bottles. Local Legend – Jameson Edition will not be packaged, but it will be offered in the taproom as well as at select draft accounts soon.