Friday, May 1, 2009

Whiskey-Aged Beers

I've been drinking Allagash's Curieux for several years now... since my first Belgian Beer Fest(maybe 3 years ago?), and it was already a pretty noticeable trend to age beers in whiskey, champagne, or wine barrels... but it was still nice to see an article about it in The Atlantic Food Channel.

The sad thing about it was that the beer that won Clay Risen's taste test was the one I already really like (in fact, I had two glasses of it last night):
We sampled five beers: Brewdog's Storm IPA, finished in an Islay whiskey cask; Harviestoun Brewery's Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16, a porter aged in 16-year-old Highland Park barrels; Orkney Brewery's Dark Island, an ale finished in scotch barrels; Allagash's Curieux, an abbey Tripel ale finished in eight-year Jim Beam barrels; and the St. Louis Brewery's Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels. All of these I found on the shelf of Washington, D.C. liquor stores. (There are several others out there, including the elusive "Black Ops," finished in Woodford Reserve barrels, from Brooklyn Brewery.)

The Allagash won the day. The Jim Beam influence is clear but not overpowering, giving it an extra, smoky sweetness. It has a heavy natural carbonation and a light color. The aroma is of lemon and apple, and the mouthfeel is thicker than one might expect--Charlie found it a bit syrupy and said it had a "slight, sticky burn." But most of us liked the smooth ale finish, highlighted by notes of white pepper and a pleasing bourbon aftertaste.

I'll have to keep my eye out for Brewdog's Storm IPA and Harviestoun Brewery's Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16.

photo by flickr user bpw used under a Creative Common's license