99 Barrels of Beer | CookingDistrict.com

99 Barrels of Beer

Whiskey, sherry, brandy, wine—all libations we’re used to seeing aged in oak. But given recent trends in brewing, we may soon add one more to that list: beer.
As profiled in The New York Times, oak-aged beers are making a comeback. Eric Asimov notes that, hundreds of years ago, all beer ended up in wooden barrels; today, metal is favored, as it interferes less with the beer’s flavor. Recognizing the flavor and depth that comes from aging in wood, however, some brewers have returned to oak barrels to create a very different sort of beer.

While oak-aged beers vary as widely as oak-aged wines, they tend to have several characteristics in common: a brighter, smoother palate; a high alcohol content, ranging from 7% ABV upwards to well over 10%; a less hoppy flavor; and oak-derived undertones, setting off notes of fruit, spice, or malt. Some brewers employ barrels that have already been used to age spirits—infusing each batch of beer with flavors reminiscent of bourbon, wine, or rum.
Though Asimov recommends the 2006 Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien from Switzerland’s Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes—at, he concedes, $34.95 for a 25.4 oz bottle—other less pricey (if slightly less complex) versions exist. Edinburgh brewer Innis & Gunn ages its pale ale in barrels once used for bourbon or, in another variety, rum. New Holland Brewery’s Dragon’s Milk Ale has a deeper, caramel-like richness, and Odell Brewing recently exhausted a limited-edition run of oak-aged ale Woodcut No. 1—with the golden ale Woodcut No. 2 to follow in the spring.
Just sip these beers carefully—with flavors to savor, these are no Miller Lites.

Comments

pkwong001 • 01/19/2009
having just compleated our 11th aniversary beer dinner i am proud to say we have featured oak barrel beers from Firestone Walker brewery in Paso Robles Ca who has also used burbon barrels for the past five or six years. They have been brewing their double barrel ale in oak for ten years or more.
bclarke001 • 01/22/2009
Pricy yes, outstanding flavor for sure, sipping beerI will have to look around Central VA for a supplier?
smoir123 • 01/22/2009
These beers are great with a grilled steak. My favorite is from Dogfish Head Brewery, Palo Santo Marron aged in the Palo Santo wood from Paraguay. 12% alchohol, so this is not your average brew. Truly one of the best
tournantrasheeed • 01/31/2009
Dogfish makes their beers using this process? Hmmm...
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