We Had Bartenders Name The Best Barrel-Aged Stouts For Fall

Fall is here, and with it comes a solid month or two of wildly variable weather. Some phantom hot days; a few surprisingly cold nights. That means variable beer drinking, too. It’s time to finish off your summery IPAs on the hotter days of the season and crack open your barrel-aged stouts on the chilly eves.

Since we cover IPAs aplenty, we’re turning our attention today to barrel-aged stouts. While we always enjoy a malty, roasted stout, the act of barreling only makes them richer and more flavorful. For those unaware, a barrel-aged beer is a beer that’s been aged for a few months (sometimes more) in a wooden barrel. Usually, an ex-bourbon barrel — where the effects of the maturation impart a silky sweet essence and rich flavors of vanilla and butterscotch into the beer.

Over the past decade, breweries all over the country (and the world) have tried their hand at barrel-aging stouts. To find out the best of the best, we decided to once again go to the pros — asking a handful of well-known bartenders to tell us their favorite bourbon barrel-aged stouts for fall.

Finkel and Garf Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Jess Thorson, bartender at TORO Kitchen & Lounge at Viceroy Snowmass in Snowmass, Colorado

Finkel and Garf from Boulder, Colorado make a great Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. It is a strong /heavy stout but super smooth. It’s roasty, malty, and full of rich chocolate flavor.

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

Zach Wilks, bartender at Anthony’s Chophouse in Carmel, Indiana

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout is my personal favorite barrel-aged stout. It’s aged in bourbon barrels, that also got used to age Maple Syrup. It’s an absolutely fantastic mixture of maple sweetness and vanilla-filled bourbon.

Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Great Divide barrel-aged their Yeti stout and it really caught my attention. The flavors of the Yeti Imperial Stout are only deepened and highlighted by the whiskey components introduced from the aging process.

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Jeremy Allen, bartender at MiniBar in Los Angeles

Founders in Michigan is one of the best breweries in the country, and their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) truly is a world-class product. I can’t actually remember using the term “world-class” on beer before, but here you go.

Cave aged in bourbon barrels for a year, this one emerges as a potent (12.8%) chocolaty, maple-filled beast.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Daniel Gamiño, assistant food and beverage manager at Banyan Tree Cabo Marques in Acapulco, Mexico

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Barrel-aged Imperial Stout is the perfect pairing for a warm pumpkin pie with its notes of cinnamon, cocoa, and toasted nuts. It also feels like a warm hug, with every sip with its complete but balanced body. This particular stout has also voasts some sherry notes from the barrel — matching perfectly with a pumpkin pie.

2nd Shift Barrel Aged Black Noise

Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis

2nd Shift Barrel Aged Black Noise is one I genuinely enjoy. An imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for five months and drinks at a high-ish ABV.

Sweet but balanced out by the rich and roasty profile. It’s noisy, but not loud.

Shepherd Neame Double Stout

Efren López Fernandez, bartender at Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Play del Carmen, Mexico

Shepherd Neame Double Stout. This is because I love the hops notes that are not so aggressive, at the same time the aromas of chocolate and coffee are really subtle

Writer’s Picks:

Firestone Walker Parabola

This 14 percent imperial stout was aged for a full year in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a rich, subtly sweet, dark beer with hints of dark chocolate, toasted caramel, and pleasing vanilla.

Bell’s Black Note

They should have called this Bell’s two notes because this indulgent beer was made by combining the brand’s Expedition Stout and its Double Cream Stout before aging the liquid in ex-bourbon barrels for a few months.

Three Floyd’s Dark Lord

This 15 percent Russian Imperial Stout was made with Mexican vanilla, real coffee, and Indian sugar. It’s barrel-aged and eagerly awaited by its fans when it’s released every year on “Dark Lord Day.”