When it comes to craft beers that really make us sit back and ponder their flavor, barrel aging usually does the trick. While there are plenty of cask aged brews out there that do make us take an extra moment to enjoy the taste, barrel aging provides a complex blend of flavors that can’t be topped. Something about the oak, or the spirit within, sets in motion a journey that continues from the first sip to the last.
The type of barrel can greatly affect the flavor of the resulting beer. Just as the type of beer undergoing barrel aging will affect the results. There are a wide variety of barrels that can be used for aging, such as bourbon barrels, rum barrels, Chardonnay barrels, Port barrels, and more. A french oak barrel is pictured and these barrels are commonly used for aging wine. Wine barrels provide an entirely different result than whiskey or rum barrels.
The barrel pictured would provide a lovely flavor on its own. However, depending on the wine that previously occupied the barrel, the flavor would have a deeper set of undertones. While some wines provide a very fruity undertone, the age of the barrel can also offer an earthy tone or even vanilla contrast. This method of aging is gaining popularity quickly and craft breweries are fighting to keep up with the demand for new craft beers.
There are a wide variety of beers on the market today that were been created through the barrel aging process. New craft breweries and old alike are striving harder every day to produce new and interesting brews for enthusiasts to try. Below are a few of the brews on the market that have been made with this process.
Allagash Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Black is an outstanding example of a barrel aged brew. Obviously, this beer is aged in bourbon barrels and it has a great flavor from start to finish. With a variety of flavors imbued into this Belgian type Stout beer, you’ll find hints of chocolate, coffee, and even vanilla. With the typical behavior of barrel aged brews, which is to say entirely unpredictable, you may even notice flavors that you wouldn’t expect. This is because barrel aging is exactly that, unpredictable to an extent. While we expect this beer to possess a bit of bitterness as is befitting of a stout, you may, on occasion, catch hold of a bottle that is smooth as silk. That is the joy of craft beer, the unexpected moments.
Also, you may find Wicked Weed’s Oh My Quad to be a great choice. This amazing Belgian quadruple is aged in wine barrels. The flavor profile on this beer is quite interesting with a bitter bite that pairs well with the fruity undertones and hoppy finish. We had trouble deciding whether to classify this as bitter or tart, as both are equally true. We also have to give Wicked Weed Brewing credit for some outstanding backstories! Each of their brews include an amusing backstory, entirely made-up by the brewery (or at least we think they just made them up…).
Once you’ve tried a barrel-aged beer, you’ll surely understand why we hope barrel aging is here to stay! This process provides so many unique flavors and textures to the brew that you can never be sure whether the next sip will taste the same. We love the adventure involved in drinking these brews and we hope to find many more to try in the future.