Five years ago, I was thrilled if I found a craft lager in a Cape Town liquor store. And today I am writing a review of an Irish red ale that’s been aged for 66-and-a-bit days in an oak barrel that previously contained Jameson whiskey. That’s some pretty awesome progress.
The collaboration was part of Jameson’s Caskmates promotion, which saw them ageing their whiskey in barrels used by Irish brewery Franciscan Well (owned by Miller Coors). The Caskmates whiskey is now available in South Africa and to make it a little more relevant, Jameson teamed up with two prominent South African microbreweries to produce limited edition beers. Devil’s Peak came up with 667, an Irish Red Ale brewed with South African ingredients in honour of the legendary Jan Van Hunks. The other brewery was Soweto Gold, whose 7.6% lager was aged in the barrels for 76 days, in honour of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.
The 667 is a deep, brooding red – If I was trying to be exact, I might go so far as to say mahogany. The nose delivers lots of vanilla, leaving you in no doubt that this was aged in oak. Head retention is fairly low, but I have a feeling you’ll finish this before you really notice the lack of head. It’s complex and balanced – the wood is there, but it’s not the only aspect to the beer. There’s a discernible hint of toasty, toffee malt behind the vanilla and tobacco and the boozy, orangey flavour that made me think of Cointreau.
The aftertaste is Christmas – dark fruit and booze and I find it a little tough to believe that this is only 6.7% ABV. The barrel gives a perceived sweetness, but Devil’s Peak being Devil’s Peak, there is a hop bitterness at the end and a very, very long and pleasing finish. The long finish is a good thing since this was a very limited edition brew – just 1400 bottles were produced and the beer will be exclusively available through League of Beers. Order a case from them (and do it quickly – supply is extremely limited) or if you’re a regular subscriber, you might win the beer lottery – some LoB subscribers will find the beautifully wrapped bottle in their monthly mixed case…
UPDATE: This just in – on June 10th, 667 will go on tap at the taproom for a very limited period (2 kegs only!!!)
Also check out this video of the Jameson/Devil’s Peak Collab.