#StrongBASeries Archives – PorchDrinking.com
In part two of our series on the state of barrel-aged beers (read part one here), we’re generating some word-of-mouth buzz by letting the brewers share the most anticipated barrel-aged beers lurking in their barrel programs. The ever-present bourbon barrel-aged stout makes an appearance or two, but it’s the experimentation and creativity highlighted by brewers across the board that really gets me excited. Foeder-aged ales, tequila Goses and barrel-aged Cream Ales? That’s just a sampling of some of the compelling creations these breweries are looking forward to releasing to consumers.
Without question, 2020 has been one of the wildest years in human memory. With world-shaping events happening (it seems) almost every day, and the constant, grating drip of catastrophe from the news, one is always on the lookout for reprieve, for some sort of grace.
Some people call this magical time of year the holiday season. People who read this website probably know it more as Stout Season. But at Epic Brewing, it’s Baptist Season. And this year, they went big.
Epic Brewing, originating in Utah, is famous for being the state’s first brewery since prohibition to solely brew beer with a “high” alcohol content. Now, in Utah, that means something different than you’re probably thinking: Back in 2009 when Epic was founded, the Beehive State considered any beer above 4.0% ABV to be a “strong brew” and restricted those sales to state-run liquor stores (they’ve now increased that maximum up to 5.0%, those daredevils). But Epic Brewing didn’t just make strong beer by Utah standards; like most kids with strict parents, they rebelled and started making strong beer. Thus, in 2011, their Big Bad Baptist series was born: A Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with coffee that was such a hit, the brewery turned it into an annual tradition and introduces new variants each year during Baptist Season.
In an industry which has been largely built around the search for the new and exciting, it can be refreshing to revisit some of the beers and breweries which blazed the trails for the modern day. Foothills Brewing, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a perfect example not only of one of these foundational companies, but also of one which has done an amazing job of staying relevant and responsive to the modern craft beer drinker. Perhaps none of their brews illustrates this better than their Coffee Infused Bourbon Barrel-Aged Sexual Chocolate, one of the state’s most anticipated yearly releases.
We all remember the first time we waited in an exceptionally long line for an exceptionally small pour of a notable beer. On a sunny SoCal day in May 2015, at The Bruery’s 7th Anniversary party, a beer from local upstart Bottle Logic Brewing named Fundamental Observation showed up like Lindsay Lohan as the new queen bee of The Plastics. An explosion of vanilla followed by the soft cuddle of high-end bourbon barrels, this beer was a delicious needle in the four hours of unlimited tastings haystack. With the next public release of this beer came a block-spanning line, providing a delicious 8oz reward for an hour of your time, and the first memory of waiting in extended anticipation for a single draught of excellence.
Barrel-aged beers are known for big ABVs, bold flavors and brisk ingenuity. The near-constant release of Barleywines, Bourbon Barrel-aged Stouts and everything in-between draw consistent buzz and big purchases from beer lovers every fall and winter due to that warm, fuzzy feeling they can bring. That said, the current landscape of barrel-aged beers is daunting, challenging brewers to create new and bold beers that meet the ever-changing demands of their audience–what’s popular this season might be dull the next year. The current state of the barrel-aged beer industry in the United States is equal parts complex, curious and creative. To learn more, I polled more than 10 breweries known for their barrel-aged beer programs to get their perspective on the state of the industry and their likes and dislikes when it comes to barrel-aged beer.
Warped Wing Brewing Company’s taproom on an uneven brick side street in downtown Dayton, Ohio, is pretty quiet for early December. The hulking, 80-year-old concrete building that once housed the Buckeye Iron & Brassworks foundry is normally humming with beer drinkers, and on the early December Saturday when the brewery’s beloved Whiskey Rebellion bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout is released, the cavernous facility is always packed with celebratory fans. A line begins early that morning waiting for bottle allotments and extends through the cracked cement of the parking lot, past the building, and around the corner of the block.
This year’s release, of course, is different, though the enthusiasm for it is as vibrant as ever.
With an in-state distribution footprint that stretches to every corner of Colorado, Denver’s River North Brewery is a longtime local favorite. Despite its reach, its longevity and its reputation among hardcore craft enthusiasts, River North has still managed to remain somewhat of an underrated contender in the world of barrel-aged beers.
Winter, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic, is not the time for light beer. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the only beer that will cut it as the winter solstice approaches is something strong, dark, and smooth. Matchless Brewing’s Off the Cuff II Old Ale is worthy of consideration this time of year–it’s a big beer that demands attention.
To create Off the Cuff II, Matchless brewers blended different Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stouts with wine cask-aged Old Ales. Blending beer is both an art and a science; Matchless Brewing excels at both in this beautiful blend of bourbon and fruit that’s perfect for a winter night in.
On these cold winter days, few beers are more ideally suited for the weather than Fremont Brewing Company’s B-Bomb Bourbon Barrel Imperial Winter Ale. A Winter Ale that sees extended time in bourbon barrels, it serves up more than enough alcohol to warm up your insides, while delivering tons of fall spices and vanilla barrel notes. At 13% and coming only in large 750ml bottles, it’s a perfect beer to break out and split with any friends and family you may have in town for the holidays.
It’s that time of year again: a time of great anticipation… Stout Season. In accordance, we’ve found a beer for the bold stout lover, Empress Rising: Red Wine Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Birds Fly South Ale Project.
Barrel, chocolate, marshmallow all packaged up in Off Color Brewing’s notable 250ml bottles — it’s Barrel-Aged Dino S’mores season, and this year’s version is not to miss.
The popular Russian Imperial Stout comes in a non-barrel-aged version and typically a couple of variants as well as the barrel-aged version. This year’s BA beer spent 13 months sitting in Wild Turkey 101 bourbon barrels and the beer took to the barrel like a fish to water.