Over the last several years, more and more craft brewers are aging select beer in wooden barrels. The type of wood is typically oak, but apple, hickory… even an exotic wood known as palo santo are also used. But what’s important to the brewers is not just aging beer in wooden barrels, but knowing what was in that barrel before! Cabernet sauvignon, port,
chardonnay, sherry, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, and rum barrels have all been used to make some incredible beer. And brewers often toast or char the insides of the barrel to bring other possibilities into play as the beer ages in the barrel.
The process works like this: once the beer is finished, it’s placed in wooden barrels and then aged for weeks and, even, months. Over that time, the flavors of what the barrel was last used for permeate the beer and become part of the flavor and aroma profile.
For the most part, barrel aged beer is brewed in smaller batches. And almost all of these are limited in availability, so if you have one you like, buy it again as quickly as you can or it may be gone.
Here are a couple to look for:
Dogfish Head Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout. Dogfish Head took their ridiculously delicious World Wide Stout and aged it in massive oak barrels with vanilla beans. The result is an unbelievably rich, intense, fascinating beer. It’s ABV is extremely high, but that is also part of why it tastes so good. You can find this beer now in 12 ounce bottles, but when it’s
gone… it’s gone.
Another wonderful barrel aged beer is Founders’ Canadian Breakfast Stout, or CBS. CBS is extremely hard to find and is sold in 750 milliliter bottles. It’s aged in bourbon barrels that had previously held maple syrup with coffee and chocolate added for the aging process. The taste is spectacular.
Barrel aged craft beer. Another wonderful part of this great craft beer world.
The Craft Beer Guy