Review: Oak-aged beersDecember 1st, 2010
Many beers on the market are aged in oak for a spell. (More than you might think!) Here are several interesting ones — many of which were aged in whiskey barrels.
96 The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share “Grand Cru,” 12%, $20
A blend of beers of varying age from brandy and bourbon barrels, and there are also some Cabernet Franc grapes added to one of the barrels. It’s a fascinating beer! Dark russet color. Incredibly complex, with thick toffee, molasses, caramel-coated roasted nuts, vanilla, dark fruit (fig, black cherry), charred oak, tobacco, and suggestions of dark chocolate and black licorice. Good oak grip on its rather warming finish. A classic sipping beer.
92 Nebraska Brewing Co. “Mélange a Trois”, 10%, $20
Aged in French chardonnay wine barrels. Beautiful fluffy white head, and hazy marmalade in color. Complex fruit marries with the malt (green grape, rhubarb pie, plum, caramelized pineapple). Creamy in texture, with a soft toasted oak finish. Curious, distinctive, and very compelling. (Think oak-aged Belgian-style tripel, with some white grape influence.)
89 Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo, 9%, $12
Bottle conditioned and aged for over a year in oak barrels that previously contained cask-conditioned beer. A great addition to this legendary brewery’s range of beer. Sweet notes of nutty caramel and toffee meld with raisin and dried apricot, along with a suggestion of tobacco, plum skin, fig, and anise. The oak influence is noticeable throughout, but it is nicely camouflaged until its pleasantly tannic, lightly gripping, dry, warming finish. Nicely done!
82 Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, 6.6%, $3
Lighter in color, body, and alcohol than the other oak-aged beers I’ve reviewed lately, and the only one where I could use “thirst quenching” as a descriptor. Gently malty, with silky layers of caramel, vanilla and light toffee, peppered with delicate citrus. The textural impact of the oak is more subtle, emerging mid-palate, and imparting a gently dry, tannic (polished leather) finish. A distinctive beer, given that most oak-aged beers are big, brooding, sipping beers.