What We’re Drinking This Winter: Barrel-Aged Beers

Craft brewers have taken advantage of all the resulting whiskey-soaked casks from the recent bourbon boom to experiment with barrel-aged beer.

Monica Buck

Central Waters Brewing in Wisconsin makes the most “normal” one shown at left: Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale ($14 for a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles) tastes like beer – malty and sweet, with a pleasantly bitter finish. Mash ($21 for 750 milliliters), a butterscotchy barley wine from California-based The Bruery, is massive in both flavor and alcohol – about 13 percent, triple the level in most beers. Miraculously, Colorado’s Avery Brewing manages to strike the right balance among the vanilla, cinnamon, cacao nibs, and chiles that inform its imperial stout Xolotl ($13 for 12 ounces). Fruity and slightly tart, Shmaltz Brewing’s Chanukah in Kentucky ($13 for 22 ounces) is aged in Jim Beam and Heaven Hill casks.

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