Last time, we talked about barrel aged sour beers, and how y’all should Buckle Up and Pucker Up, because the ride won’t stop anytime soon.
Sours are the latest craze in craft beer, and people are just beginning to discover the range of flavors they can experience with different sour beers.
This time, we’re going to shift gears, flavor wise. From tart, to smooth. From notes of sour cherry, to the sensation of velvety chocolate covered caramel. From lemon, to vanilla.
I’m talking about whiskey. Specifically, whiskey barrel aged beers.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk. A relatively easy to pick up Bourbon Barrel Stout from Michigan. It’s right up there with some of the heavy hitters, in my opinion.
As I said before, barrel aging has been around for centuries. But, here in the United States, it wasn’t until the early 90s that brewers discovered the magic of aging Beer in used whiskey barrels, when Goose Island began their barrel aging program that’s still going strong today, Bourbon County Brand Stout.
By putting their already high ABV Russian Imperial Stout in bourbon barrels, they discovered as it sat inside that wooden wonderland, the already chocolate and coffee forward Beer picked up flavors of caramel, vanilla, toasty marshmallow, and made it a smoother, richer experience for their customers.
Since that Beer came out in 1992, as Americans are wont to do, they took the ball and ran with it. Larger craft breweries like Founders took their already amazing Breakfast Stout and let it mature in Bourbon barrels, creating the 12.2% ABV monster, KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout). People flocked to the brewery, lining up for hours on release days to get a drop (or a bottle) of this deliciously limited nectar. Since then, they’ve created a variant of that beer, and aged it in bourbon barrels that were then used to age MAPLE SYRUP. Yup, you heard that right. This created the incredibly sweet, boozy CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout).
Brewers in America, and all over the world, have been going wild over whiskey barrels, and I’m here to show you a few of my favorites. Hope you enjoy! Now go out and drink some whiskey barrel aged beer, ya hear??
The OG. This is the 2017 version of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, exploding with smooth chocolate, coffee, caramel, and vanilla. Super balanced and easy to drink at around 14% ABV. The king of bourbon barrel beers, regardless of your stance on Goose Island being owned by AB InBev.
Oh baby, the second heavy hitter here. Founders KBS. Is it possible that this is even more velvety smooth, with creamy chocolate and roasted coffee playing nice with the vanilla and caramel from the bourbon barrel? I think it is.
I did a side by side with KBS and Bourbon County back in 2013, and KBS won… By a hair.
One of my favorite local barrel aged stouts, this was a collaboration from Port Jeff Brewing Company and Bobby Rodriguez (now owner and head brewer/cider maker at Po’ Boy Brewing), Out of Port Jefferson, Long Island. This beer was released a few years ago, and I’m so sad it hasn’t been made since then.
From across the pond, from our friends at Galway Bay Brewery, this 200 Fathoms Imperial Stout was aged in Teeling Irish Whiskey Barrels! Irish Whiskey is coming up in the world (when compared to Scotch or Bourbon), and the sharper notes you get from Irish Whiskey accentuate the semi sweet chocolate and bitter coffee with cream notes, almost making this like an Irish Coffee. ‘Tis an absolute delight. Just grand. Lovely.
This was a barrel aged series from Sixpoint Brewing in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NYC. Although the 5Beans was aged in Port Barrels, the 3Beans was aged in Bourbon Barrels, and the 4Beans in Rye Barrels. I believe the 4Beans was my favorite of the bunch, with the spiciness from the rye giving an interesting twist on a barrel aged brew.
These are just a few of the thousands of barrel aged beers out there, and I encourage all of you to go out and try some, come back, and let us know what you think! Go have fun, you silly kids!
Until next time, Cheers!