Rolling out the New Trends in Barrel-Aged Craft Beers
As timeless as barrel-aging is, it is relatively new in the field of craft beer. This is hard to believe, as the new trends in barrel-aged craft beers are creating some of the best flavors on the market. But the beers we now know and love had a long journey to get where they are. The good news is that it seems that the journey has only begun!
Why are Barrel-Aged Craft Beers so Good?
The delicious taste of a barrel-aged craft beer comes from the barrel itself. Beers that have been aged in direct contact with wooden barrels are imbued with the distinct characteristics of the wood. This has been a practice for centuries in the world of spirits and wine; mainly due to their longer age time which meant plenty of time to soak the wood.
It is now more common to see beer aging in fresh barrels or even barrels which were already used to age wine or spirits. The possible outcomes in flavor from this practice are virtually endless! Each wood adds a different flavor to the beer, from alder and apple to smoky hickory and oak. Barrels can even be charred black on the inside to make the flavor even stronger in the end product. Top that off with the distinct flavor from the wine or spirit which was in the barrel before and it is no wonder why we are seeing some amazing products in production recently.
What are the New Trends in Barrel-Aged Craft Beers?
The craft beer market has really taken off in the past two years, and it seems one thing is for sure – it is here to stay. More and more people want to taste the dedication of a true brewer in their beer, not the same watery drink they’ve seen a thousand times in every market. There is still one truth here: New is King. That said, there are some trends which are catching on as of late, and they spell success for any brewer who is ready to capitalize on them.
Everyone is familiar with a good beer aged in a bourbon barrel, and the trend was still on the rise as of 2016. But that is just the tip of the iceberg here. Brewers are expanding to rum, gin, and tequila barrels; while still others try out chardonnay or muscatel barrel-aged beers. Given the craft beer enthusiast’s love for everything new, exploring different barrels is going to be key.
As the average craft beer lover’s palate expands, brewers have to expand with it. The newest trends show more brewers playing with their blends in new and curious ways. For instance, beer combined with fruit and aged in a wine barrel… Sangria beer, anyone? Along with fruit, herbs are picking up as distinct and powerful additions to those aging barrels. Juniper berries, coriander, citrus peels, star anise….the list goes on.
For years now, hops have been the pinnacle of craft beer. The boom of the IPA can attest to this. But with some people sick of the trend, and other simply used to it, look for hops to be replaced more and more by things like heather, yarrow, wormwood, and mugwort. Brewers are testing new herbal blends, as well as working with other cereals to create distinct flavors in their categories.
No matter the trends, barrel-aged craft beer is here to stay. The passion every brewer has for their craft shows in every frothy glass, and we are here to enjoy it! At SommTable, we are dedicated to bringing craft brewers and beer connoisseurs together in a portal designed for the sommelier in all of us. So if you haven’t already, explore the world of barrel-aged craft beer .. you´ll be amazed at what you´ve been missing.
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