Bang For Your Buck: 6 Barrel-Aged Beers Actually Worth Paying For
Photo: vladans (Getty Images)
We know it seems like the dreary winter months will never end. But, before you know it, spring will be here, and with it comes an end to stout-drinking weather. This means that you only have a month or so left to tip back as many stouts and porters as possible. But, instead of grabbing every stout wily nily and dumping it down your gullet, take your time and enjoy as many as possible. And we don’t mean your basic run-of-the-mill beers, we’re talking about barrel-aged stouts and porters.
While some of them might be a little pricier than your bargain, gas station beer, they’re worth it. Just think, they’re higher in alcohol so one or two is enough. Plus, barrel-aged beers are rich, decadent, and warming, a perfect combination for the last few weeks of winter. If you can’t treat yourself every now and then, what’s the point?
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Brooklyn Black Ops
Brooklyn Black Ops isn’t your run-of-the-mill barrel-aged beer. This 11.5 percent Russian Imperial stout is aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being re-fermented with Champagne yeast. This results in a complex beer with strong chocolate and caramel flavors and subtle bourbon spice on the back end.
Photo: Brooklyn Brewery
Bourbon County Original Stout
No barrel-aged beer round-up is complete without mentioning Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. If you’re lucky enough to get this beer every year, save it for as long as possible because you’re in for a great evening. If you’re extra lucky, you’ll be able to get one of the other offerings, including (this year) the Reserve Bourbon County Stout aged in 12-year old Elijah Craig Barrel Proof casks.
Photo: Goose Island Brewery
10 Barrel Estonya
This 10.2 percent Imperial Porter is aged in whiskey barrels. But, as simple as that sounds, the beer itself is quite complex. It’s rich, smooth, mellow, and surprisingly easy to drink for a barrel-aged beer with a reasonably high alcohol content. It’s full of rich chocolate and toasted caramel flavors without the heavy alcohol flavor that usually accompanies cask-aged beers.
Photo: 10 Barrel Brewing
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Just like the Bourbon County Stout, no barrel-aged beer list is complete without Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. This 12.2 percent Imperial Stout is brewed with coffee and chocolate before being cave-aged in oak ex-bourbon barrels. People await this release every year and for good reason.
Photo: Founders Brewing Co.
Rogue Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout
The coolest thing about Rolling Thunder isn’t that it’s been aged in whiskey barrels. The coolest thing is that it has an accompanying Stouted Whiskey. Confused? Well, first Rogue distills beer mash made from Rogue Dead Guy. Then, the whiskey ages in new oak barrels. The whiskey is then taken out of those barrels and Rolling Thunder is added to them and aged for nine months. The removed whiskey spends that time in new charred barrels. When the stout is done aging, they put the whiskey back into the original barrels for two years.
Photo: Rogue Ales
Oskar Blues Barrel Aged Ten Fidy
Oskar Blues has been putting out high-quality, delicious beers for years. This winter, the Colorado-based brewery released a series of limited-edition barrel-aged beers called “Darkest Days.” You aren’t likely to find any of those beers now, but you can still find cans of the brewery’s barrel-aged version of its iconic Ten Fidy. The original stout is (you guessed it) 10.5 percent alcohol. The barrel-aged version is aged “through four seasons” from a blend of “the top bourbons around,” it has distinct coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors at a still smooth 12.9 percent alcohol.
Photo: Oskar Blues