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Explosion of Unique Flavours: 5 Barrel-Aged Beers You Must Try

 
As competition in the craft Beer industry grows so does experimentation and the search for new flavours. While the IPA style booms and continues to reign supreme across continents, others trends are surfacing.

One of these is the experimental category of barrel-aged brews which see a variety of oak casks used to aged different types of Beer. The practise isn’t as simple as it seem, as certain casks won’t work with different types of Beer.

Here are some of the most exciting, unique barrel-aged Beers around and why you need to try them.

1. Speyside Whisky Chocolate Imperial Stout

The Speyside Chocolate Imperial Stout is made by the United Kingdom’s most highly awarded craft brewery, Cloudwater, which reached 2nd place on the RateBeer’s 2017 list of the best breweries in the world, second only to the renowned Hill Farmstead brewery.

The Beer is brewed using 275 kilograms of cacao husks, bringing forth a rich, silky chocolate character. The Beer is then left to rest in Speyside Whisky casks for 6 weeks, a period which, according to the Cloudwater team, allow flavours from the wood to enter the Beer, but is short enough to help prevent tannin and dryness from the oak to enter the Brew.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sweet malt and abundant dark chocolate notes lead the nose, before molasses, oak, and a touch of charred wood joins in on the palate. The long finish bring with it notes of liquorice and some subtle caramel, along with the ever-present roasted cacao.

2. Islay Whisky Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

The Paradox series by BrewDog delivers many stellar barrel-aged, decadent brews to thirsty fans. One, however, stands out in terms of intensity and innovation - the very first one in the series, Paradox Islay.

A powerful, deep 15% Imperial Stout, bursting with rich chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt is filled into Islay Whisky casks. The power of the peat and smoke is balanced out by the strength of the Stout, meaning that neither is overwhelming on the palate.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For lovers of dark Beer and Scotch Whisky, the Paradox Islay offers a truly unique experience. Barrel-aging at its finest.

3. Bourbon Cinnamon Vanilla Barrel-Aged Stout

San Diego’s amazing Alesmith brewery is well-known for its barrel-aged expressions, evident once again through the recent barrel-aged edition of the brewery’s famed, award-winning Speedway Stout. This amazing concoction is a blend of two versions of the Alesmith Speedway stout.

One was aged in a regular Bourbon cask, while the second was matured in a Bourbon cask previously holding cinnamon and vanilla extract. As if that isn’t enough, the two versions are aged further with cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and some local coffee beans.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tasty stuff from @alesmithbrewing the cinnamon comes through hard on the back end. Totally hides the 13% ABV • • • • • #speedwaystout #cinnamon #vanilla #alesmith #stout #bba #imperialstout #beerstagram #craftbeer #beer

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Immense smoothness from the creamy vanilla, allows the new Speedway Stout to shine with a touch of spice and dark, roasted flavours of coffee. A lovely balance between rich sweetness and dark spice is delivering, leading to a rich, dark finish.

4. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Colorado’s famed Oskar Blues Brewery takes Ten Fidy, ones of their most loved Imperial Stouts and ages it in Bourbon barrels, resulting in a gorgeously decadent 12.9% Beer. Aged over the four seasons, the Bourbon’s influence of creamy vanilla and smooth oak comes into contact with the intense chocolate, coffee and roasted malt notes of the Ten Fidy.

Through the rich flavours, dried, dark fruit notes also make an appearance on the palate and lead to a rich, bittersweet finish.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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5. Japanese Whisky Barrel-Aged Imperial India Pale Ale

Over in Japan the famed Shiga Kogen brewery has worked with the small, loved Japanese Whisky Chichibu distillery on the Far East Barrel-Aged Imperial IPA. This collaboration also brought forth the Chichibu IPA 2017, a Whisky aged in IPA casks.

After aging in Whisky casks, the Beer brings forth abundant oak and malt, which is joined by the huge presence of fruit and citrus from the hops. The golden brown brew delivers a kick at 13%, yet the sweetness and depth from the Whisky, subtle bitterness, and fruit from the hops make it hard to tell the strength. After the casks were emptied they were sent back to Chichibu to be filled with Whisky.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A great collaboration bringing two of Japan’s most popular drinks brands together.

What is your favourite barrel-aged Beer? Share with us.



By George Koutsakis

George Koutsakis

As a half Greek Scotsman, who previously lived and worked in Japan’s Whisky industry for years, George Koutsakis is a spirits writer specializing in Japanese Whisky and spirits, world Whisk(e)y, and other drinks. He currently acts as head writer and Whisky specialist for dekantā, the largest online retailer of Japanese spirits.

 

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