Brewers today are creative artists always looking for ways to enhance the beers they produce. And aging beer in wine, whiskey or rum barrels has provided a popular palette for these artisans to create with. “I love seeing the character that the barrel adds to the beer,” says Chris Wright, founder and head brewer at Pikes Peak Brewing Co. The barrel has the ability to transform the beer into a completely different one, he explains. Here are six local barrel-aged beers that put a twist in your pint—and that may become your new favorite.
Penrose Private Reserve:
Pikes Peak Brewing Co.
Along with its year-round regulars, Pikes Peak Brewing Co. offers super limited releases, including 1612, a robust American barley wine aged in whiskey barrels. “It’s a beautiful, traditional American barleywine with notes of raisin, strong malty notes and some whiskey coming through,” says Chris Wright. Plan to pair it at the brewery with the coconut curry pie or a meat and cheese platter.
Axe and the Oak Incline BBA Wheat Wine
A love of art and creativity echoes through Local Relic and its interesting brews—from an Old Ale brewed with tobacco to a Farmhouse Mushroom Saison. But for a barrel-aged beer, this one is aged in bourbon barrels from Axe and the Oak, resulting in a flavorful, bold, boozy beer. It’s now available at the tasting room. Just be warned: It packs a punch at 13.6 percent ABV.
Winston Smith’s Barley Wine 2018
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
Aged in Woodford Rye Whiskey barrels, Winston Smith’s is a deep amber-hued English-style barleywine with aromas of vanilla, oak and dark fruit and flavor notes of caramel, toffee and rye whiskey. It packs a potent 11.2-percent ABV in a smooth body. “Pair Winston Smith’s with our braised pork belly and spiced beignets for an interesting and delicious experience,” says Charles McManus, head brewer at PCBC. And you can add it to your speciality beer cellar in limited edition 22-ounce bottles.
MFHYBRID: Marionberry Zangria
Paradox Brewing Company
This barrel-aged wild/sour golden with marionberries and malbec grapes has more than 30 different microbes involved in fermentation and souring, and it’s aged for nine months before blending and re-fermenting on fruit. “The concept was a barrel-aged beer and wine hybrid that highlights both the fruit and the barrel,” says brewer and blender Jeffrey Airman. He describes the resulting flavors as bold, lush fruit with a big bite of acid up front and a finish that is tannic and dry with lingering oak and minerality.
You won’t find any boring beers at Trinity, and this saison provisional is no exception. It’s fermented with a blend of farmhouse yeast and Brettanomyces (a wild yeast) and then dry hopped. Weighing in at a relatively low alcohol by volume (ABV) at 4.9 percent, it’s aged in the same barrels that have housed Chardonnay wine, which results in a spicy, fruity flavor and a dry finish. Get your bottles at the brewery.
Bristol Brewing Company
Wireless Warlock is a classic, full-bodied oatmeal stout that picks up oak flavors as it ages. “It’s aged in whiskey barrels for a few months and then blended back with some original oatmeal stout to cut the booziness from the barrels and really showcase some of the sweet notes from the whiskey,” says Jason Littman-Quinn, sales and marketing manager. Those sweet notes include toffee, chocolate, and vanilla—perfect for a chilly night.