Want Smoothness? Put a Little Yeti Into Your Whiskey

Members of Great Divide Brewing Company enter the Jameson Ireland distillery to begin their unique collaboration.

Photo courtesy Lexa PR

Need a drinking buddy in Denver this weekend? How about a glass of Jameson? Better yet, how about Bigfoot?

You can have ’em both Friday night at Levitt Pavillion Denver Live!, where Great Divide Brewing and Jameson Irish Whiskey will consummate their friendship anew with the release of a collaborative beer as part of Jameson’s Caskmates Drinking Buddies project.

This is the second year of collaboration, and you could say it’s gotten serious: the Great Divide crew has toured Jameson, Jameson has sent barrels over, Great Divide beer has toured the inside of those barrels, and now members of the Jameson family are interning at Great Divide.

How does something like this even happen? Jameson’s not even based in the U.S.

“[Jameson] told us they had selected a few key cities to partner up with, and had asked locals and bartenders around the city in each city what brewery best represented the city,” said Shannon Berner, marketing manager at Great Divide. “Apparently, people overwhelmingly named Great Divide.”

The #YetiMafia was told they best embody the Jameson Family motto: Sine Metu (“Without fear”). It makes sense: at 22 years of age, Great Divide was at the front of what has become a full-blown movement in craft beer. Along the way, they’ve rung up 18 Great American Beer Festival medals and five World Beer Cup medals.

They’re a fixture on any online beer best-of list; and, when Thrillist drew names out of a hat for their “The Best Craft Brewery in 35 Cities” piece (or however that was done), Great Divide’s piece of paper came out on Denver’s turn.

At 22 years old, Great Divide is nearly 10 percent as old as Jameson is.

“We met the master cooper, Gen, who was a 5th generation cooper,” said Berner. “[He] had done his apprenticeship under his own father. He showed me the cooper’s crow with the #1 stamp on it, obviously generations-old that he inherited. It was pretty crazy to imagine our company five generations down the road; but, seeing how the Jameson crew still treat each other like family all these years, it’s definitely something to aspire to.”

Jameson is 235, by the way.

Berner said the distillery was hands-off during the beer design process, preferring to let the breweries demonstrate what styles could be made in the barrels. In Great Divide’s case, out came The Smoothness. It’s a dark lager with an Alcohol by Volume someplace between “excessive laughter volume” and “security guard-hugging.”

Friday will be drinkers’ first glance; and, should folks forego Instagramming and actually begin drinking it, first sips.

The other breweries taking part in the Caskmates program are Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles; Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in New York; Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas; Stoup Brewing in Seattle; Cycle Brewing in Tampa; and Fat Head’s Brewing in Cleveland.

“Yanno,” whiskey and beer,” said Berner. “It’s not a tough sell.”

This release comes on Denver’s biggest home game on the calendar, one that practically revolves around the Great American Beer Festival. Berner said the weekend has a life of its own.

“You can do everything possible to plan all you want, but inevitably there will be things that come up that you didn’t predict. As a Denver brewery, we have a huge responsibility during GABF week, an amazing craft beer mecca, and we have people coming from all over the country, and the world, to see what we’re about.”

Great Divide has several events planned this weekend in addition to The Smoothness release that can be found here.

“We spend the week running around like headless chickens,” said Berner. “Each year we promise ourselves we’ll scale back and do less, but we never do.”

Tickets to Levitt Pavilion Denver Live are $25, with 100 percent of the sales benefitting Levitt Pavilion Denver. Each ticket includes Jameson Caskmates Irish Whiskey, Great Divide beer, food, and a round of The Smoothness.

STILL GOT TIME? Last time out, I checked out Long’s Peak Pub and Taphouse and the Left Hand Brewing taproom.


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