You know the old saying—beer before liquor, never been sicker. Well what if we told you that was all wrong? What if beer and wine, or beer and whiskey, were actually made for each other? Turns out, they make a heck of a brew, and no, that’s not just our lush side talking.
Brewing beer in wine or whiskey barrels isn’t exactly a new concept, but the delicate balance it takes to complement subtle flavors in both wine and beer is complicated, and in our experience, hit or miss. The nice thing about a barrel-flavored beer is that it goes a little above and beyond in the notes. It’s also the kind of bottle you would want to bring to a party to make both the snobby beer drinkers and the snobby wine drinkers find some middle ground. The whiskey folks will probably try everything.
Epic Brewing Company
Elder Brett Saison-Brett Golden Ale
ABV anywhere from 8.8% to 9.3%
Don’t let the Mormon missionary on the bottle throw you off. This is a tasty, crisp brew is a collaboration ale between Epic Brewing Company in Utah and Crooked Stave Artisan Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado. A Saison ale is already fruity and spicy on its own, but the trick is adding brett, aka brettanomyces, which is wild yeast that leads to a richer, smokier flavor. Brettanomyces is one of those fun science words that throw you for a loop, but it is a funky yeast that can be destructive in large amounts, but perfect in small doses. Epic Elder Brett Saison-Brett Golden Ale does it justice as it elevates the brew into a citrusy and slightly tart treat.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Bear Wallow Berliner Weisse Sour Apple Sour Wheat
If you want to try several different barrel aged beers, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. is the place to go. They use red wine barrels in their Old Brood Braggot, made with Superstition Meadery, an urban winery in Prescott. And their BWBW—a Sour Apple Sour Wheat made with 50 pounds of puréed apples from Gilbert’s Agritopia—comes from red wine barrels. Sour beers are usually reserved for the keenest of beer drinkers, but we say that’s a bunch of junk. The red wine barrels used to add a certain sourness to the beer without being too tart. We also dare you to try their Hellsgate Imperial Saison, which is madein tequila barrels.
I don’t know if you currently have chest on your hair, but this beer will certainly grow you a chest garden with its whiskey barrel aged ways. Oskar Blues Brewery has made a stout that bullies other stouts. It has a hefty alcohol content, a thick sip and chocolate-covered caramel and coffee taste, which goes perfectly with the whiskey notes. Made with two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops, this beer is begging to be paired with dessert. It’s like beer, whiskey and chocolate all came together to make bad decisions in can. Luckily, we are all on board for this devious combination.