Hilliard’s Beer embarks on a transatlantic barrel-aged beer adventure

Today we share some big news out of Seattle’s beer-loving Ballard neighborhood about a new barrel-aged beer project at Hilliard’s Beer involving some very special barrels from across the sea. Namely, whiskey barrels from Jameson Irish Whiskey, one of the world’s oldest and most revered whiskey producers.

Hilliard’s Beer (a new blog sponsor) is one of just five American craft breweries selected to participate in the Jameson Drinking Buddies program. According to a press release from Jameson Irish Whiskey, Hilliard’s Beer was selected to participate in the program because it exemplifies devotion to the spirit of their neighborhood and shares Jameson’s passion for craft and quality in the beer it produces.

Jameson invited Todd Garrett and Adam Merkl of Hilliard’s Beer to visit Ireland where they met with the company’s distillers to learn about the product and the distilling and barrel-aging process. They returned to Ballard with some coveted Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels, which are currently filled with a kettle-soured saison, which the brewery hopes is something reminiscent of a whiskey sour cocktail.

“It’s kind of a weird beer,” said Todd Garrett. “But like everything at Hilliard’s, if we’re not pushing the boundaries a little bit, we get a little complacent, and that’s not good.”

Hilliard’s Beer, Jameson Whiskey Barrel Sour
Color – Chestnut.
Aroma – Citrus, spiced wood, and a light sweetness.
Flavor – Kettle-soured Saison with tart, lemony notes from the Belgian yeast and lactobacillus. Flavors of caramel, vanilla and charred oak imparted by the barrels.
ABV – 5.5%

It’s hard to say exactly when, but Hilliard’s hopes to release the beer in August. Stay tuned.

The other four breweries involved are Angel City Brewing of Los Angeles, Captain Lawrence Brewing of New York, Deep Ellum Brewing of Dallas, and Great Divide Brewing of Denver. Info about the barrel-aged beers each of those breweries is making can be found below.

Barrel-aged beers are wildly popular all across America right now and an increasing number of breweries dedicate significant resources to the practice of conditioning beer in various types of barrels. Bourbon barrels and wine barrels are particularly popular, largely because of their availability, but Irish whiskey barrels, like Scotch whiskey barrels, are hard to acquire because the distillers are typically very protective of their barrels.

That’s what makes this an interesting story. Not only was Hilliard’s Beer fortunate to get its hands on some Irish whiskey barrels, but they’re Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels. Since 1780, Jameson has been a recognized brand around the world and today it is partnering with some of the youngest breweries in the world.

Here’s the press release:


Jameson Collaborates with Five Local Craft Breweries across the US to Create Limited Edition Beers Aged in Jameson Whiskey Barrels

NEW YORK, NY – (June 23, 2015) Jameson® Irish whiskey announces today the next phase of the Jameson Drinking Buddies program, highlighting distinct craft beer collaborations with American breweries. Continuing on last year’s successful collaboration with KelSo Beer Company of Brooklyn, Jameson is partnering with five local breweries from across the US who exemplify devotion to the spirit of their neighborhoods and share Jameson’s passion for craft & quality in the beer they produce.

The five breweries from across the US include – Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in New York, Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas, Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver, and Hilliard’s Beer in Seattle. Jameson invited each brewery to the distillery in Ireland, and then sent them home with Jameson Whiskey barrels to create a limited edition beer inspired by both their experience in Ireland, and their own unique neighborhood.

Showcased in a video series, being released over the coming weeks on JamesonNeighborhood.com, is the story of each partner brewery in the Drinking Buddies program. From visiting the Jameson distillery in Ireland, to becoming buddies with the whiskey distillers, the series sheds light on each brewer’s Drinking Buddies experience. Following the distillery visit, the brewers returned home to their neighborhood breweries with Jameson barrels, where the episodes chronicle the beers they ultimately brewed.

“The breweries involved share Jameson’s passion for craftsmanship, quality, and creativity,” said Sona Bajaria, Director, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Pernod Ricard USA. “With the creation of these locally brewed Jameson-inspired beers, our goal is to pay homage to the spirit of each brewery’s neighborhood.”

Angel City Brewing, Imperial Irish Ale.
Color – Rich mahogany-hue.
Aroma – Ripe fig and toffee notes.
Flavor – Light vanilla, molasses, black cherries and a distinct peppery finish. The beer has an indulgent, yet subtle sweetness, full body, and and warming linger.
ABV – 15.0%

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Trans-Atlantic Red.
Color – Deep auburn with highlights of red.
Aroma – Rich and malty, with hints of chocolate and citrus fruit.
Flavor – Deep and rich, with a big malt backbone, chocolate and coffee flavors and restrained hop character. The Jameson barrels lend a layer of complexity that is highlighted by vanilla and toasted oak.
ABV – 7.0%

Deep Ellum Brewing, Local Legend, Jameson Edition.
Color – Deep black.
Aroma – Notes of vanilla and caramel, hints of licorice.
Flavor – Rich mouthfeel from the flaked barley, notes of dark chocolate and roasted grains as well as an uncommon smoothness.
ABV – 6.0%

Great Divide Brewing Company, The Smoothness.
Color – Dark.
Aroma –Whiskey notes, chocolate, oak and leather.
Flavor – Dark, smooth lager that has a velvet/silky mouth feel that accentuates roasted malt, vanilla and oak. It has a medium malt backbone that makes for a very balanced quaffable lager that highlights the characteristics of the Jameson barrels.
ABV – 8.5%

Hilliard’s Beer, Jameson Whiskey Barrel Sour.
Color – Chestnut.
Aroma – Citrus, spiced wood, and a light sweetness.
Flavor – Kettle-soured Saison with tart, lemony notes from the Belgian yeast and lactobacillus. Flavors of caramel, vanilla and charred oak imparted by the barrels.
ABV – 5.5%

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