Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Tuesday Tasting: Wooden Brews
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we examine the growing love affair between brewers and wood.
At the Great American Beer Festival during late September in Denver we were amazed by the number of brewers offering beers that had been aged in old Boubon barrels and other wood combinations. In fact, it was the second most populous category in the professional judging, beat out only by American pale ale. At least four made the Lyke2Drink All-Festival Selections: Browning's Brewery Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, Great Lakes Rackhouse Ale, Michelob Celebrate Oak Vanilla and Sierra Nevada Wood Aged Bigfoot Barleywine. In the last few weeks Lyke2Drink has had the chance to sip some more wood finished brews, finding that wood is indeed a friend of beer. A few were already covered as part of our holiday and winter beer tastings. Here are two others that we found to be very much worth the extra effort to locate.
Allagash 2006 Interlude: This experimental beer from the Maine brewery is aged in French merlot and sirah oak and has a slightly winey and fruity flavor profile. Sugar and yeast are added at the time of bottling to create a second fermentation in the bottle. You'll want to split this with friends for two reasons: first the 750 ml bottle holds a 9.5 percent alcohol by volume brew and when we found one at the Flying Saucer in Charlotte it set us back $25. An impressive beer with an impressive price tag.
Rock Bottom Chicago Barrel Aged Imperial Stout: They serve this 9-10 percent alcohol by volume brew in a brandy snifter, which helps concentrate the flavors. My glass came off the tap a little too cold, but as it warmed more of the rich flavors emerged. There was a reddish hue to the head on this beer, which ringed the glass. Aged in barrels formerly used to mature Woodford Reserve Bourbon, you can taste the whiskey and the vanilla from the oak. A perfect drink to ward off the freezing temperatures of the Windy City.