Bourbon barrel-aged beers a good choice for winter

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

During the chilly days of winter, I traditionally like robust beers, like porters, stouts and Belgian strong ales. But, as 2021 begins, I’m convinced that even stronger, whiskey barrel-aged versions may be in order.

Wild Heaven Beer recently partnered with Kentucky’s Bulleit Frontier Whiskey to brew a pair of barrel-aged beers that certainly qualify as winter warmers.

Aged in Bulleit rye barrels, 95 Shilling imperial scotch ale is a dark amber beer with a 9% alcohol content, and malty, spicy, oaky-vanilla and boozy notes.

Aged in Bulleit bourbon barrels, the second offering is 437 Miles South imperial stout. The name is a nod to the fact that Wild Heaven’s brewery in Avondale and Bulleit’s distillery in Shelbyville are 437 miles apart. Look for smoky, dark chocolate and cherry notes, along with an oaky-vanilla barrel essence in this deep black beer with a 10% alcohol content.

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Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Here are five more bourbon barrel-aged beers to seek out this winter.

Allagash Curieux

Available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles, Curieux from Allagash Brewing is a 10.2% alcohol Belgian-style tripel, cellar-aged in Jim Beam barrels for seven weeks. During the process, vanilla, caramel, oak and hints of bourbon flavors and aromas develop. Blending with a portion of fresh tripel before bottling brings out notes of passion fruit and honey. Unlike most winter beers, Curieux is bright and crisp, with a dry finish.

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad

Available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles, this offering from Boulevard Brewing is a 12.2% alcohol Belgian abbey-style quadrupel, aged in bourbon barrels for up to three years and blended with cherries. The result is a complex, hazy, amber-brown beer with aromas and flavors of bourbon, cherry, vanilla, dark fruit, oak, caramel and toffee, and a spicy clove Belgian yeast.

Founders Backwoods Bastard

This offering from Founders Brewing, best-known for its seasonal Kentucky breakfast stout, is available year-round in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Described as “a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate,” the 11% alcohol bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale evokes single malt scotch, with aromas and flavors of oak barrels, smoke, caramel, roasted malt and a bit of spice and dark fruit.

Monday Night Bourbon Barrel Drafty Kilt

Available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans, this 8.5 % alcohol version of Monday Night’s Drafty Kilt scotch ale is aged in bourbon barrels, and it won a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. The original features deep flavors of cherrywood-smoked malt, chocolate malt and roasted barley, with a bit of vanilla and butterscotch. Barrel-aging reveals more smokiness, sweetness and a hint of bourbon.

New Holland Dragon’s Milk White Stout

Available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans, this unusual white stout variant of Dragon’s Milk is a product of New Holland’s 20 years of barrel-aging. At just 6% alcohol, and hazy gold in color, it definitely makes for a lighter stout drinking experience. Look for aromas and flavors of vanilla, cocoa, oak and caramel, along with a smooth, soft mouthfeel.

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