Barrel aging, where a beer is transferred into a barrel that had been previously used to age wine or liquor, has become a major part of many craft brewers’ repertoires. While aging sour beer styles in barrels has been done for centuries, many U.S. brewers have started aging some of their bigger beers in liquor barrels. The most popular style in the U.S. is probably the bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. When done properly the sweet and boozy bourbon can perfectly complement the rich and roasted malt flavors of the beer. Unfortunately in my experience too many of these beers are over-done, they end up tasting like a diluted glass of bourbon. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice bourbon, but in a barrel aged beer I want the whiskey to add complexity to an already delicious beer instead of overwhelming the palate. I have spent some time this winter trying to find some of the best local examples of barrel aged beers, and I’ll use the blog to pass along a few recommendations. One relatively new and highly recommended bourbon barrel aged imperial stout is You Enjoy My Stout, brewed by Cambridge Brewing Company.
Cambridge Brewing Company You Enjoy My Stout pours midnight black with a mild dark brown head. The smell is a mixture of dark malt with a pungent hit of boozy bourbon. The malts come through strongly in the taste, chocolate and espresso with hints of plum and raisin. The bourbon aging is also well represented in the flavor without overwhelming the beer, some vanilla along with smoky, sweet, and boozy bourbon. This is a full bodied beer meant for sipping, at 10% ABV it is important to take it slow. So many bourbon barrel aged stouts are all bourbon and booze but this one is extremely well balanced. The ageing adds significant complexity without overtaking the delicious imperial stout. Well done. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Cambridge Brewing Company Reviews:
Cambridge Brewing Company Remain in Light, Cambridge Brewing Company The Audacity of Hops