Ageing beer in barrels is increasingly popular among commercial craft brewers looking at adding a complexity, a certain amount of whim, and just to have some fun. It’s not a new thing, of course, beer was traditionally kept in wooden barrels, but this is a new era of experimentation.
Barrels that once contained tequila, sherry, bourbon and burgundy are snapped up by brewers to put their beers in. The market for used barrels is vibrant and demand high. Homebrewers can readily buy them, but at a price. A good alternative is to add oak chips or spirals to the secondary fermenter. The lightest touch is probably from American oak chips which is a good starting place. But you can easily get hold of chips that have been soaked in bourbon or sherry. Of course, you can soak the chips in anything you fancy.
Using oak chips, and especially ageing in barrels, is a matter of trial, error and accurate recording. It’s one of the most unpredictable aspects in brewing, but that’s why it is such good fun. Buy some chips, make something dark and try it.
WHICH BEER TO AGE?
Dark and strong beers (over 5%) fare best when ageing (in wood or fermenter). Partly because it can stand the time, but also, the dominant flavour from oak is vanilla – delicious in a stout. In fact, any beers that have a good punch of chocolate and coffee notes work well with ageing in barrels or with oak chips. Imperial stouts and porters are perfect for it. Strong lighter coloured beers work too. Barley wines of course, but maybe big IPAs and double IPAs, can be aged. Lambics too are traditionally aged for up to three years and often blended with younger beers.
Father’s Day, 19th June 2022, is the special date in the calendar when we celebrate and give a nod to the Dads in our lives. It’s an excuse to spoil them with a little something to say thank you for being awesome. If you’re looking for inspiration for a craft beer-loving Dad, then check out our top 7 Father’s Day beer gifts.
Every year, Beer Hawk releases a lineup of limited edition craft beer mixed cases for the holiday season. This year's lineup of festive Christmas beer gifts is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Remember the childhood excitement of opening a new door on your advent calendar every day in the run up to Christmas? It gave each day a little sparkle of festive magic, even though those tiny chocolates behind the doors were always a bit rubbish. How would you like to recapture that childhood magic, but with bottles of delicious beer instead of powdery chocolate? Sounds amazing, right? In that case, you need to get your hands on our Craft Beer Advent Calendar.
Pairing beer and food together isn’t all rules and science. That would make for a terribly boring dinner party! Instead, it’s the art of taking a good beer, some good food and partnering them together to make something even better. It’s the adventure of discovering what works, what doesn’t and what you like. It’s you taking a bite, taking a sip and then declaring your undying love for that imperial stout and chocolate cake.
Barrel-ageing beers is not a new thing, but it is getting more and more popular, and has probably never been as inventive. Adrian Tierney-Jones explores the new wave of ageing beer in wood
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