A great night was had at the Oliver Plunkett pub in Cork City to celebrate the launch of the ‘Franciscan Well Jameson-Aged Pale Ale’ – phew, a name that’s almost as big a mouthful as the beer itself!
The new brew is a collaboration between Franciscan Well’s founder Shane Long and fellow Corkman Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at the Jameson Distillery, who, after a successful joint venture with a Jameson-aged stout, decided the time was ripe for another project, this time an experiment with the effect of second fill bourbon casks from the Jameson distillery as a component in a pale ale breed by Franciscan Well.
The press release on the event introduced me to the term ‘back’ apparently used to describe a small measure of a drink, alcoholic or mineral, accompanying another drink. Traditionally, people would order a whiskey with a water ‘back’, a soda back or a beer back. Spirits have been accompanied alongside beer since the 1400s and the new beer aims to continue this tradition by creating a natural pairing.
This is what, in the old Manchester days, we would have called ‘a chaser’. In those days there were upwards of a dozen brewers in the region – the ‘National Beer Grid’ with its associated lack of choice hadn’t reached the region (others, like East Anglia, awash with the awful Watney’s keg beers, were already submerged). It was our custom, on our regular pub crawls (sighs nostalgically for the stamina of youth) to accompany the last pint of the night with a Scots malt whisky chaser and, being of questing minds, we determinedly sought out the best combinations – for the record Glenmorangie with Boddingtons’ bitter; the soft, ethereally fragrant Glen Scotia with Robinsons; Glendronach with Draught Bass were, if I remember rightly, our top three picks.
In like vein, the Franciscan Well’s biscuit, malt, caramel and citrus notes, enhanced by spikes of orange zest and coriander combined beautifully with the Jameson. The ale is certainly very more-ish and only the 6% ABV prevented it from being ‘a session’ beer. For this we turned, late in the night to the Franciscan Well ‘Chieftain’ which I praised so lavishly after I made the discovery at the Fleadh Cheol in Sligo a few weeks ago.
The evening was further enhanced by some good pub grub, a band, plus an impressive display of barrel dismantling and reassembly by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley.
The beer is rated ‘experimental and exclusive’ so at the moment it’s only available across Cork’s Whiskey Way bars (Canty’s, Counihan’s, Electric, Le Chateau, SoHo Bar, The Mutton Lane Inn, The Oliver Plunkett, The Oval, The Roundy and The Woodford) in 330ml bottles for an RRP of €6.