Mandatory Staff Picks: Ranking the 10 Best Barrel-Aged Beers
Photo: zmurciuk_k (Getty Images)
It might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t very long ago that bourbon barrel-aged beers were first introduced. It’s only been 10 years since Goose Island popularized the style with its now iconic Bourbon County Stout. Since then, countless other brands have gotten in on the style. Many have branched out to different whiskeys and spirits including rye whiskey, tequila and rum. Below you’ll find some of our favorites.
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Alesmith Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout
The folks at Alemsith aged their well-known Speedway Stout (a Russian Imperial Stout) in former bourbon barrels for as long as a year. The result is a robust, rich, dark beer with hints of toasted oak, sweet vanilla, and subtle hints of bourbon.
Allagash Barrel & Bean
This beer starts as a Tripel, a Belgian-style golden ale. It then gets aged for two months in former bourbon barrels before being blended with cold-brewed coffee. The result is a sweet, caramel-filled brew with hints of espresso and sweet cream.
Bell’s Black Note Stout
This combination of Double Cream Stout and Expedition Stout would be delicious on its own, but it then gets aged for several months on ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a malty, sweet beer filled with chocolate and vanilla flavors.
Cigar City Double Barrel Hunahpu’s
Good luck finding a bottle of this offering. If you do, you’ll be treated to an imperial stout aged in both rum and apple brandy barrels. The result is a complex, multi-dimensional brew you won’t soon forget.
Photo: Cigar City
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
The OG barrel-aged beer, it’s an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. This highly potent brew is rich, black, and full of vanilla and caramel sweetness.
Photo: Goose Island
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Lovingly referred to as KBS, this 12 percent bourbon barrel-aged chocolate coffee stout is perfectly suited for breakfast sipping (or more likely after dinner) with waffles and sausage.
Firestone Walker Parabola
You can’t go wrong with a beer from California’s Firestone Walker. When it comes to barrel aging, the brewery has been at the forefront of the movement. Its Parabola is an imperial oatmeal stout that matures for a year in barrels that formerly held Heaven Hill bourbon.
Photo: Firestone Walker
Oskar Blues Barrel Aged Ten Fidy
Normally Ten Fidy is literally 10.5 percent ABV. But, the folks at Oskar Blues added this beloved brew into bourbon barrels and aged it for at least eight months. When it came out it was 12.5 percent and full of extra vanilla and chocolate flavors.
Photo: Oskar Blues
Deschutes The Abyss
While many brewers stick to one barrel for their aging, The Abyss is an imperial stout aged in bourbon, new oak, and red wine barrels. The result is a sweet, subtly smoky brew with hints of vanilla and brown sugar,
Toppling Goliath Assassin
This is definitely a beer for whiskey fans. This imperial stout spends a minimum of one year (up to two) in charred, oak barrels. The result is a highly complex, rich, dark beer with strong sweet vanilla and brown sugar flavors.
Photo: Toppling Goliath
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