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Bartenders Tell Us The Best Barrel-Aged Beers On The Market


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Over the past few years, craft breweries have gone all in on the barrel-aged beer craze. These (usually) limited-edition beers are more expensive and aren’t supposed to be cracked open and chugged as soon as you get home (that’s what light beer is for). They are painstakingly created to be aged and enjoyed at a future date. Many are rested in former bourbon or wine casks for months before they even reach a bottle. Whether you enjoy crisp, sour wine-barrel aged brews, or rich, chocolatey, whiskey-cask matured sippers, there’s a barrel-aged beer for you.

With so many breweries are trying their hand at barrel-aging, it’s easy for a newcomer to the style to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite barrel-aged beers. This way, you won’t fork over $10, $20, or even $30 for a bottle only to realize it’s not for you.

Brooklyn Black Ops

Nikki McCutcheon beverage manager at Moxy Times Square in New York City

“I love our local Brooklyn Black Ops. They use Champagne yeast to second ferment the beer once it’s been bottled creating a really unique and delicious finished product. Plus, it’s really hard to get your hands on as they consider it one of the brewery’s ‘hidden gems’.”

Allagash Curieux

Jason O’Bryan, spirits director at The Florence in San Diego

“I think all-time favorite has to be the Allagash Curieux. It’s a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-style Tripel from Portland, Maine that just hits this perfect balance year after year. Always high alcohol but never too heavy. I’m not always in the mood for a 10%+ beer, but the Curieux is hard beer to say no to.”

Fremont Barrel-Aged Dark Star

Andrew Holmes, director of food and beverage at Hotel LeVeque in Columbus

“Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star by Fremont Brewing; blend of oatmeal stouts aged between eight and 18 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels, which makes it rich with a roasted aroma.”

Boomtown Crude Magic

Kevin Zadoyan, co-owner of Te’Kila in Los Angeles

“What’s my favorite barrel-aged beer and why? Boomtown’s Crude Magic comes to mind. I’m a huge Woodford Reserve fan and this imperial stout is aged in used Woodford barrels. Goes great with a burger.”

Goose Island Lolita

Spencer Elliott, head bartender at The Boogie Room in New York City

“I’m not afraid to say I love Goose Island’s Lolita. It’s brewed with raspberries and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. This 9% ABV aged beer packs a wallop with a sweet yet surprisingly tart taste.”

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

Big Jon Conkin, Bartender at Wonderland Ocean Pub in San Diego

“Without a doubt, CBS from Founders. 11.7% Imperial Stout that’s brewed with coffee and chocolate. It’s then aged in bourbon barrels that were recently used for aging maple syrup. So, to recap: Every sip has coffee, chocolate, bourbon, and maple syrup… Say no more, fam.”

Harviestoun Ola Dubh

Mariel Burns, head bartender at Trademark Taste + Grind in New York City

“Harviestoun Ola Dubh is my favorite barrel aged beer. It’s a black ale that has been aged in Highland Park 12-year barrels. It picks up serious dark chocolate and bitter notes without being a traditional stout or barrel-aged beer. So delicious.”

Bruery Terreux Orchard Wit

Andrew Meltzer, bartender at Noosh in San Francisco

“I find myself drinking less intense, heavy-duty beers, so I would choose something like Bruery Terreux’s Orchard Wit. It’s a Belgian-style wheat beer that’s just edging into the sour department. Not only is it aged in oak barrels for a few months, but fermentation also takes place in large wooden foudres [vats]. The beer is lightly spiced and has a natural citrus flavor from the special strain on yeast.”

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Shawn Stanton, bartender at Public House in New York City

“What’s my favorite barrel-aged beer and why? Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (Michigan made). KBS has a lot of hype but delivers. It’s balanced in flavor — coffee, stout, bourbon, chocolatey goodness.”

Russian River Supplication

Hope Ewing, beverage director at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Los Angeles

“If I see any of the Russian River barrel-aged sours (like Supplication) out in the world, I have to get one no matter the price. They are magicians. Skip Napa—head to Santa Rosa and hit up their brewery.”

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel

Tyler Zielinski, bartender at Backbar in Hudson, New York

“Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. It’s the only barrel-aged beer I’ve ever tasted that I truly loved. A couple of them and you’ll be in a happy place.”

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