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Why the predominance of bourbon barrels for barrel aging?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by IamMe90, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Yes, but isn't Armand making his own gueuze again after the cooler incident?
  2. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    to the best of my knowledge, the 4 seasons "armand" series was the last time he brewed any himself. supposedly he has somebody studying under him to eventually do both duties, but that's a few years off into the future.

    in any case, plenty of other blending-only outfits, like de cam, hanssens and now tilquin. that said, obviously none of them have the power of diageo or pernod ricard over the scotch industry...
  3. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Champion (770) Indiana Jul 6, 2005

    No one has mentioned wine barrel use
  4. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader


  5. drtth

    drtth Poobah (1,205) Pennsylvania Nov 25, 2007

    Try one from this series:


    and report back.
  6. Agreed, and I love scotch.
  7. taxman

    taxman Savant (285) Illinois Feb 22, 2012

    One of the more common ways to make a boilermaker is a shot of bourbon and a glass of beer. So why not just age the beer in the ex-bourbon casks to impart the flavor? Someone asked this question and bourbon barrel aging was born. That's my theory.
  8. I think that the vanilla and caramel flavors that come from bourbon and whiskey lend themselves well to stouts and other ales. But there are a lot of other beers, especially funky/sour type beers aged in wine barrels because the flavor profile matches and they work together well.... I can't even imagine how bad a beer aged in scotch barrels would taste - but I guess I could be surprised
  9. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    i believe the main point of the boilermaker and other "bomb shot" cocktails is just to get drunk as quickly as possible, not to enhance the flavor...
  10. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Champion (875) Michigan May 30, 2005 Subscriber

    I keep a list of beers that I've had in the past, but I don't keep notes of when I drank them or the particular details of the taste. However, I found 4 that I think I've had within that past 3 years, and they must not have impressed me with the effects of the barrel aging when compared to bourbon barrel-aged beers that I've had, of which there have been many.

    Two of the 4 beers were aged in "whiskey" barrels -- O'Fallon's Whiskey Barrel Smoked Porter, and Rogue's John John Dead Guy Ale Aged in "Whiskey" barrels (I believe there were also rum and gin barrel versions of this one too).

    The other two beers were aged in brandy barrels -- Dogfish Head's Poppaskul , and New Holland's Charkoota Rye Smoked Dopplebock.

    I've always liked the taste of bourbon (although I also like brandy and other whiskeys), so there may be some bourbon prejudice to consider here, but from the four non-bourbon beers noted above I've learned not to pay a premium price for a barrel-aged beer that is aged in anything but bourbon barrels. I just don't get any extra satisfaction from them to justify the extra cost. Whether non-bourbon barrels are more well-used, thus don't impart as much flavor into the beer could be a basic reason, but I'm not going to purchase them to find out.
  11. A few things with this:

    I recently had an imperial stout aged in pinot noir barrels and it got me thinking about barrel-aged beers. A lot of breweries age beer in whiskey barrels, and I've always been curious why these beers are so over-represented relative to those of other kinds of aged wine and liquor. What are some good beers out there that are aged in a non-whiskey barrel?

    Also, are there specific reasons for this imbalance? I feel like aging a beer in wine, tequila, rum or (especially) cognac barrels would provide just as much if not more flavor than a whiskey barrel, and yet not many breweries uses these kinds of aging processes.
  12. Cinderbike

    Cinderbike Savant (295) Nevada Jan 16, 2011

    My guess? Availability. I've had much better luck finding bourbon/rye barrels vs. scotch/rum/brandy/cognac/tequila/etc. Wine barrels are pretty easy to come by, but I live ~2 hours from Napa so I don't think that's the norm.
    dianimal and beertunes like this.
  13. Since both beer and whiskey are made with malt as a base, I would guess it's done because the flavors are more compatible.
    KWMiles and Smurf2055 like this.
  14. stupac2

    stupac2 Advocate (565) California Feb 22, 2011

    Well, first, plenty of sour beers age in wine barrels (everything RR does, for instance, is used wine barrels), so that part of your question is just wrong.

    As for things like tequila, rum, or cognac, I believe the problem is availability and price. Some places like to rum age, but mostly breweries that are near rum producers (Florida ones) or distill themselves (Ballast Pt). Similarly Tequila ones show up, but not that often. My guess with those two is that there just aren't that many barrels available, and that the flavors kind of suck for beer aging (though this will depend).

    Cognac is just absurdly expensive, from what I understand, since you need to ship it overseas. But still, it happens.

    Bourbon is just a special case since, by law, barrels are only used once. They need to go somewhere, and so breweries will take them. AFAIK that's not the case with any other kind of spirit. So you do see those other barrels, but they're not as common because there are far less on the market.
    KWMiles, volta, UHCougar12 and 3 others like this.
  15. eatabagofbooger

    eatabagofbooger Savant (375) Oregon Mar 27, 2009 Beer Trader

    Figgy Pudding (brandy), Rye-on-Rye (rye whiskey), Ola Dubh (scoth whisky), BA Cavatica (rye whiskey), and Temptation (chardonnay) are some of my favorites aged in non-bourbon barrels. Having said that, I've had a lot of barrel aged beers and find that bourbon usually melds better with beer than other spirits. I suspect that this is why they are so common.
    KYGunner likes this.
  16. Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky

    Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky Advocate (590) Minnesota Feb 13, 2013 Beer Trader

    I would be all over a beer aged in Johnnie Walker barrels.
    PsilohsaiBiN and mfnmbvp like this.
  17. dianimal

    dianimal Advocate (550) California Apr 18, 2012

    I think they're more available because they can only be used for the whiskey once. Once the whiskey is gone, they get rid of the barrel. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    KYGunner likes this.
  18. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (690) Missouri May 11, 2012 Beer Trader

    I think you are correct but I'm no expert.....
  19. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (690) Missouri May 11, 2012 Beer Trader

    Is Jaegermeister aged in barrels? If so that could be an interesting beer....
    mfnmbvp, FUNKPhD and Giovannilucano like this.
  20. American whiskey has to be aged in new oak barrels. So they sell them to Scotland usually and also brewers more recently. Also American whiskey (read bourbon) is not a malt based product. At least 51% corn, I don't believe Rye is made from malted Rye. That being said I'm not too stoked on bourbon barrel aged stuff because of the corn flavor. To each his own though.
  21. 1850 gallons at a time.
  22. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (690) Missouri May 11, 2012 Beer Trader

    Hell yea!
  23. Jägermeister’s ingredients include 56 herbs, fruits, roots and spices including citrus peel, licorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries and ginseng.[6] These ingredients are ground, then steeped in water and alcohol for 2–3 days. Afterwards, this mixture is filtered and stored in oak barrels for about a year. When a year has passed, the liqueur is filtered again, then mixed with sugar, caramel, alcohol and water. It is filtered one last time and then bottled
    Stinkypuss likes this.
  24. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (690) Missouri May 11, 2012 Beer Trader

    Seriously, my frat boy Jaeger days are behind me (more or less) but I'd like to try a Jaeger barrel aged beer
  25. Why?
    Have you tired the Belgo Anise IRS? wretched.
  26. danieelol

    danieelol Advocate (595) Australia Jun 15, 2010

    It's Availability

    Lots of Bourbon in the US

    BrewDog age everything in Scotch casks cause that's what's available

    Australian brewers use a fair amount of wine barrels
    Chaz and MrKennedy like this.
  27. I love that beer
  28. Cognac Barrels are where it's at IMO, and this is from a man that loves his bourbon.
    bunique686 and fullmetal1381 like this.
  29. Sounds like something Mr. Calagione would dream up
    CORKSCREWFISH likes this.
  30. kawilliams81

    kawilliams81 Advocate (650) Illinois Feb 27, 2009 Beer Trader

    I think there are way more beers aged in bourbon barrels than whiskey barrels. That's why most BA beers say "bourbon barrel aged".
  31. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (870) Michigan May 8, 2006

    Whisk(e)y is a broad term for the style of liquor and the standards for barrel usage does vary by the type of whisk(e)y. In the US, to be labeled Bourbon or Rye, the liquor must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. There is no second use for these distilleries. Many distilleries in Scotland have contracts with American distilleries for their barrels and use them to age their Scotch.
    dianimal likes this.
  32. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    You could try some Braunschweiger Mumme (Jaegermeister -- and my wife -- is from the Braunschweig area). Described as "a wholesome drink, brewed from wheat malt, boiled down to a third of its original quantity, to which were added oatmeal and ground beans, and after working quite a number of herbs and other vegetable products, including the tops of fir and birch, a handful of burnet, betony, marjoram, avens, pennyroyal, wild-thyme, and elder-flowers, and a few ounces of cardamum seeds and barberries . . . Fill up at last and when 'tis stopt, put into the hogshead two new-laid eggs unbroken or crackt, stop it up close, and drink it at two years end." Don't know what types of barrels are used (I'd guess it's oak), and I've never tried the stuff myself. My in-laws all say it's pretty dreadful....
    afrokaze likes this.
  33. Spider889

    Spider889 Advocate (730) Ohio Mar 24, 2010 Beer Trader

    As mentioned it's availability, which in turn points to the true reason: price. After talking to several breweries on this subject it seems bourbon barrels can be obtained for around $50-100/ea. Rum and the like are closer to $400+ with higher shipping in most cases and miniscule availability. I want to say that when I asked specifically about Calvados barrels the brewer told me he had looked into it but they cost $900-1000. And again, not many are out there to begin with...
  34. FUNKPhD

    FUNKPhD Advocate (515) Texas Apr 13, 2010

    Have you moved on to Chartreuse? The VEP Green is one of the greatest fluids I've consumed. Well deserving of the name "elixir of life."
    WYVYRN527 likes this.
  35. Availability, price, character, source of Oak... Wine makers tend to use their barrels for at least three turns...the barrels are retired once deemed 'Oak neutral'. Of course depending on how the barrels have been handled there is always a potential of 'critters' being resident.

    French, Hungarian and American Oak wine barrels vary greatly in price (and quality of Oak). Wine barrels are plentiful and can be found easily on www.winebusiness.com/classifeds. Prices range from $20-600+ The French stuff sells quite high.

    Cognac, Rum, Brandy, and more. Rum and Brandy are usually aged in used bourbon barrels. Used until oak neutral.
    Rum comes back from Caribean and not cheap either. Cognac is compelling but expense is high and results vary.

    Tequila barrel aged beer....no!

    Bourbon/Whiskey/Rye Barrels are one and done 99% of the time. Once emptied they have to be moved off the property quickly and there are brokers that do nothing but process orders for those barrels.
    largadeer and Enish266 like this.
  36. BigTomZ

    BigTomZ Savant (325) Virginia Apr 14, 2009

    I just drank a Brandy barrel barleywine, Sleepin with Shaggy, last night and it was amazing. (thanks evilc).
  37. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Savant (395) Maine Oct 28, 2011

    ISO: Jager barrel Imperial Stout FT: all inhibitions and self control.
  38. JulianC

    JulianC Savant (460) Illinois Mar 9, 2012 Beer Trader

    Thinking about cracking my Revolution rum barrel aged barleywine tonight.
  39. Straight to Ale's burgundy barrel RIS is excellent. The cognac version is also excellent.
    StuartCarter likes this.