With the advancement of stainless steel brewing in the 20th century, the tradition of barrel-aged beer went by the wayside. Recently, however, barrel-aging has begun to rear its heady goodness, as brewers rediscover the plush, aromatic, complex tones that wood can impart to beer. Here are three of my favorite brews.
Woodcut No. 3, Odell Brewing Co.
Woodcut No. 3 from Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., is a crimson ale aged in virgin American oak barrels and conditioned in 750ml Champagne-style bottles. The third release in the brewery’s barrel-aged series, this ethereal, rust-colored brew is a marriage of Crystal, Cara, and Munich malts, which produce hints of raisins, sour plum, and oak on the nose. A palate of toffee, almonds and molasses round out a long, complex finish. Savor Woodcut No. 3 in the bottle or in the tap room, where the “Pilot System” enables guests to sample Odell’s line of experimental beers—available exclusively to visitors.
800 E. Lincoln Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Old Growth Wild Ale, Trinity Brewing Company
Inspired by Flemish brown ale, Old Growth Wild Ale is an extraordinarily sour beer from the year-old Trinity Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, Colo. Aged in French oak barrels for 12-18 months and bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast, Old Growth offers a pucker-inducing palate of tart citrus and balsamic vinegar, with a gamey nose and lengthy finish. Sample this sour concoction (and nearly 30 guest beers) at Trinity’s brewpub, which features a Slow Food-inspired menu that includes bison sliders with melted bleu cheese and vegan buffalo wings.
1466 Garden of the Gods Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Black Tot/Cerasus, Avery Brewing Company
At Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colo., the barrel-aged beer menu continually changing, making it highly beguiling to oak aficionados. Released in January 2010, Black Tot is a dark, chewy, imperial oatmeal stout aged in Gosling’s rum barrels. In late spring 2010, look for Cerasus, a sour cherry brew aged in Zinfandel barrels from Norman Vineyards in Paso Robles, Calif. Both of these limited releases can be enjoyed at Avery’s taproom, where exclusive tastings, live music, and special events are a regular occurrence.
5763 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 80303