26 November 2014

Barrel of laughs

Quite a convoluted back story comes with the new one from Franciscan Well. The four-pack their PR people sent me was accompanied by a leaflet explaining the concept of the chaser. The beer, Jameson Aged Pale Ale, has not only been aged in whiskey barrels but is also recommended to be served alongside a shot. Creative playfulness or a cynical joint effort by Molson Coors and Pernod Ricard to sell each other's products? Not that it matters.

What matters is the beer: 33cl bottles beautifully presented in Jameson's dark green and gold livery. It pours a flawless pale amber colour and smells rather sticky: Lucozade and hard candy, with maybe a mild whiskeyish air. The texture is very light for a 6% ABV beer with lots of prickle from the carbonation.

It's not very strongly flavoured and anyone looking for a big hit from the Cascade hops will be disappointed, but there's a different sort of complexity at work, mostly malt-related. There's more of that candy, a gorgeous brown bread crusty dryness and then an intense honeyish sweetness with mild wood overtones which I'm guessing is the Irish whiskey at work.

The recommendation, of course, is to drink this with a Jameson. "The biscuit and malt of the pale ale balance perfectly with the vanilla that is peppered with spicy wood and and hints of sweet sherry" it says here. Sadly, my house whiskey is Power's rather than Jameson, but sure it all comes from the same place. And I can't say I'm convinced -- the two flavours just disappear into each other and I can't tell if the honey is coming from the beer or the whiskey. If anything, the subtle complexities in the beer are scorched into oblivion by the hot spirit on my palate next to it.

Franciscan Well Jameson Aged Pale Ale is a nice beer for free and the idea behind it is a fun gimmick. But the ceremony is not to be taken seriously.


  1. I was invited to the launch of this back in September, despite the beer being around months by then. Safe to say my reaction is a lot different to yours; I found it one of the worst beer to come from the Fran Well possibly ever. I'll have to give the four pack another chance. Cheers

    1. Yikes! Would I be right in thinking you never had Golden Otter?

    2. You are correct, I can't even find that with a Google. What is it?

    3. It was a stinker of a beer (literally) that Franciscan Well made. Smiling Buddha was another wonky one, likewise 3 Kings. I guess what I'm saying is that you have to get through a lot of bad Franciscan Well beers before you can pronounce something the worst. My money's on Golden Otter, but it was world-class terrible.

    4. That's absolutely true, you're right. I guess I mean to say that it was the worst that I've tried from the Fran Well. That said, the recent bock they had (name escapes me right now) was pretty bad too, but in a soured this-didn't-always-taste-like-this sort of way. The above three came about just before my drinking career, (un)fortunately.

    5. Isn't it just as well we're past all that low-quality Irish microbrewed beer these days?

      Sorry, I spent last night drinking and writing about several really ropey new Irish beers and I think it may have overclocked my sarcasm board.