Drinks: Channeling spirits with barrel-aged beers
The most interesting beers around taste like more than just beer after spending time in casks other spirits once called home. By Carey Jones
HARVIESTOUN BREWERY OLA DUBH 18
Brewed in: Clackmannanshire, Scotland Aged in: Scotch
To make Ola Dubh, the brewery’s Old Engine Oil black ale is aged in Highland Park 18-year-old Scotch whisky barrels. It smells like “tar, smoke, nuts, toffee, and tobacco,” says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery.
BROOKLYN BREWERY IMPROVED OLD FASHIONED Brewed in: Brooklyn, N.Y. Aged in: Rye
“Built on the spice notes of a ‘winter warmer’—like clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon—this take on the classic cocktail balances bitter gentian root with cherry juice and sugars,” says Brennen Wysong, beer aficionado and Bloomberg Businessweek copy editor. “The rye malt gives it an extra zing.”
DESCHUTES BREWERY THE ABYSS Brewed in: Bend, Ore. Aged in: Bourbon, pinot noir, and neutral oak
“Black licorice, vanilla, and cherry flavors are prominent,” Oliver says. “This beer brings an almost cocktail-like sensibility to the fore.”
RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING SUPPLICATION
Brewed in: Santa Rosa, Calif. Aged in: Pinot noir
“Starting with a brown ale base, it gets all the sourness from critters living in the barrels, then is hit with the addition of cherries,” says David Flaherty, author of the Grapes and Grains blog.
FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING AGRESTIC
Brewed in: Paso Robles, Calif. Aged in: French oak, American oak “It begins as their flagship Double Barrel ale, then it’s transferred to French and American oak barrels for a couple of years,” says Kyle Kensrue, general manager at Randolph Beer in New York. “From the barrels, it pulls red berry, toasted oak, and vanilla.”
ALLAGASH BREWING EVORA
Brewed in: Portland, Maine Aged in: Brandy “It’s bright and citrusy with notes of honey,” says Tristan Colegrove, beer director at Haymaker Bar and Kitchen in New York. “The Portuguese barrels lend it some slight oak notes, vanilla, and an anise-like spice.”
FOUNDERS BREWING KENTUCKY BREAKFAST STOUT
Brewed in: Grand Rapids, Mich. Aged in: Bourbon
“One of the best versions of the style,” Kensrue says. “In addition to the bourbon barrel character, chocolate and coffee are added for a luscious, complex beauty of a beer.”
CROOKED STAVE SURETTE PROVISION SAISON
Brewed in: Denver Aged in: Oak
Oak “elevates the citrusy, tart characteristics and lets the complex, almost barnyard-funky character of the yeast develop,” Colegrove says.