Barrel-Aged Beer

You won’t be surprised to learn that barrel-aged beers get their unique flavour profiles from…well, barrels. You may not find ‘barrel’ listed anywhere on the list of ingredients, but there’s no doubt these humble wooden containers have a major impact on the taste and flavour of their cargo.

Brewers age beer in barrels to enhance the flavour. This can be done in two ways. Firstly, the wood a barrel is made from imparts flavours into the beer from its tannins and lactones. Secondly, brewers may use a barrel which has previously held whisky, bourbon, wine, port or sherry, which enhances the flavour of the beer.

Why Try Barrel-Aged Beer?

The wide range of options for brewers makes barrel-aged beer the perfect option for microbreweries and beer enthusiasts. Although barrel-aged beer only started being brewed in the U.S. in the 1990s, it’s fast become one of the most popular types of craft beer. By choosing wines, whiskies or bourbon that complements the flavour of the beer, brewers can create a unique profile when they repurpose the barrels for ageing the beer.

Brewers routinely use oak barrels when preparing this type of beer and the specific species and growing area further enriches the flavour. Some create woody tones, for example, while others deliver a note of vanilla or spice.

However, oak isn’t the only option when it comes to barrel-aged beer. Brewers have experimented with barrels made from ash, chestnut, redwood, poplar and many other types of wood, which is why there are so many delectable flavours of barrel-aged beer to try.