What is Barrel Aged Beer?

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

So have you ever wondered what barrel-aged beer is? You might say, well barrel aged beer is beer aged in barrels. And technically you’d be correct. No need to continue reading then….BUT WAIT, don’t you want to know why brewers utilize this fascinating technique? If so please read on and be amazed at the world of continuous wonder that permeates the brewing process, if you’ve had enough wonder and amazement for the day we understand, check out our podcast episodes instead.

The ancient Egyptians used clay amphorae, a tall jar with two handles and a narrow neck to transport wine over long distances. Eventually Ancient Greeks and especially Romans who at their peak traveled tremendous distances within the ever expanding empire, decided that amphorae were simply no longer suitable. Various types of wood was sought out to create a structure, which would become the barrel, in order to more appropriately transport wine. Oak soon became the wood of choice.

First, the wood was much softer and easier to bend into the traditional barrel shape than palm wood, thus the oak only needed minimal toasting and a barrel could be created much faster. Second, oak was abundant in the forests of continental Europe. And finally, oak, with its tight grain, offered a waterproof storage medium ( Oak also added a tasty flavoring element which helped enhance the wine.

Century’s later European brewers discovered that wooden barrels were just as ideal for beer as they were for wine; long distance travelling and enhancing the flavor spectrum. It wasn’t until 1992 that brewers started aging beer in bourbon barrels, thanks to the ingenuity of Greg Hall, former brew master of Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. Greg is widely credited as being the first American brewer to produce a bourbon-barrel-aged beer when he filled six oak barrels that previously contained bourbon. Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, which ferments in stainless steel vessels and ages for 100 days in Jim Beam bourbon barrels, remains one of the most sought-after barrel-aged (BA) beers today (

This category, which also has some crossover with Specialty Beer, is at its basic definition beers that are aged in non-neutral wood. This can to produce an intentional wood-influenced flavor effect (vanillin, caramel, toast), or flavors derived from the alcohol previously aged in the wood if any (bourbon, scotch whisky, sherry), as well as the action of microorganisms living in the wood. A wide variety of base beer styles can benefit from barrel aging, although darker or more alcoholic styles have been popular choices.


Well there you have it, let us know in the comments below what you think and what some of your favorite barrel aged beers are.


BTBT What’s Going Down

Check out last week’s Blog: How To Taste A Beer

Check out our latest podcast episode: BTBT Episode 23 featuring SingleCut Beersmiths

Upcoming Events

ICONYC Brewery in Queens NY on Tuesday the 25th – BTBT FINALLY makes the trip out to the brand new Tap Room and we are stoked!

The Brewers Collective in Bay Shore NY on Saturday July 29th – BTBT ventures out to Bay Shore to meet with Sarah and Tim of The Brewers Collective

Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore NY – In conjunction with Beer Fit Club on Saturday August 5th – We are headed back to Bay Shore for some Beer Talk and Beer Yoga!

Coney Island Brewery in Brooklyn NY on September 8th - this one is a long time coming but BTBT and Coney Island will be coming together ahead of their Freak Week and Super Freak Beer Release!

More Show Dates are on the way! Stay Tuned!

Follow us on our Craft Beer Odyssey

Don’t forget to check out the BTBT YouTube Channel.
Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with our latest blogs and podcasts. It’s a great way to find out about events, giveaways, contests and much more!
You can also subscribe to our Podcasts on ITUNES and Podbean.

BTBT Your Home For All Things Craft Beer
Drink Local. Drink Fresh. Repeat



Shop Amazon Devices - Introducing the All-New Fire Tablets Starting at $49.99



Beer Today Beer Tomorrow

Beer Today Beer Tomorrow

Follow The Craft Beer Odyssey at your home for all things craft beer. Wherever you are in the world, Drink Local. Drink Fresh. Repeat.
Beer Today Beer Tomorrow

Latest posts by Beer Today Beer Tomorrow (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *