In a week that's seen my most local brewery officially become part of the Molson-Coors family of brands, I finally decided to open up their most recent limited edition, a 7.7% stout aged in Jameson whiskey barrels. Whatever reservations one might have about the takeover, there can be no arguing with good beer, and I certainly don't doubt that the quality of beer - especially in the brewpub - will stay the same as ever.
The Jameson Stout, as I've decided to call it, doesn't betray much of it's whiskey-barrel credentials through the medium of aroma at first, instead offering plenty of good roast malt character expected from a stout of any caliber. As the beer warms up (from the slightly below room temperature state of my cupboard), toffee and maple syrup make brief aromatic appearances. The taste opens like a very regular stout altogether, with light coffee bitterness and even a herbal hop character coming into play in the early stages. This unremarkable but enjoyable stout flavour fades away rather abruptly, before a touch of heat appears to sign things off. It's not at all unpleasant, with the soft alcohol warmth reviving the deeper malts hidden in the folds of the flavour, and leaving you with an aftertaste that reminds you what you've just been drinking.
It's nice, but I have to say I preferred their Alpha Dawg I had last year.
I've read much about the Coors takeover of the Franciscan Well, and what disturbed me far more than the facts of the business move were the comments from some members of the craft beer public. The very idea that people are willing and ready to boycott their local brewery so suddenly makes me quite sad. If the beer stays the same (which I believe it will), there should be no reason for alarm. Sure, it maybe calls into question the terminology of 'craft beer' and the criteria a brewer must fulfill to use it, but if labels are what worry you most, you should stick to drinking Brewdog, you rebel you.
I wish everyone at the Fran Well the best of luck, and congratulate them on their well deserved success.