Patience is a virtue; our experiments with barrel ageing

A closer look at some of our wood-matured brews

Patience is a virtue; our experiments with barrel ageing

Barrel ageing beers is something we've been getting more and more into of late. It's an incredible way to impart something extra special into a beer by giving it some time alone to itself. Here's a bit of a look into what the barrels mean for the beer and how we go about selecting the right vessel for the brew

One of our most recent barrel aged releases, Black Jacques is an imperial black saison aged in red wine barrels. An imperial black saison is weird enough as it is, so why not amplify that and give it something really get freaky with? We tumbled this beer into Domaine Sainte Rose Pinacle Syrah barrels to evoke all those plum jam and liquorice notes, which developed and transformed into surprisingly menthol, minty, aloe vera flavours, sitting alongside the darkened spiciness of the saison we started out with. Definitely not what anyone anticipated would happen, and that's exactly what we'd hoped for.

The distant cousin of Black Jacques, Everyday Anarchy took a roussanne white wine barrel from the same boutique winery, Domaine Sainte Rose to harness the lighter end of the spectrum. This match paired the fresh, sharp and sparkly saison style with some fine, bright, fresh melon flavours from the roussanne grape. The two combined to create a full bodied, whole-hearted complexity and fruitiness. They married together incredibly well, and it was another successful experiment!
The guys at Domaine Saint Rose are helping us out with some more insanely cool homes for some of our beers that just need a bit of a stint somewhere outside their comfort zone (as we all do at some stage or another). They're a little winery based near Servian in the Languedoc region of Southern France. Rather than charging over the odds for heritage and the name of a region, they are dedicated to making beautifully crafted wine in the old world using new world methods. I think you can probably guess why we like them…

Back in 2012 we brewed this megawatt version of Cocoa Psycho as part of the prototype challenge, but instead of unleashing it on the world, we locked it up for 2 years in gnarly old whisky barrels and hid it in our warehouse.
Before it even hit the wood, it was hollering some insanely chocolatey aromas and flavours, thanks to the slightly excessive volume of cacao nibs thrown at it. Two years later and those flavours intensified tenfold. Rich, round, sweet malt flavours layered up against deep chewy molasses, warming spicy brandy notes and liqueur coffee creaminess.

Probably (well, definitely) the finest example of our ongoing experimentation with barrel ageing is our paradox series, which aims to take the same epic imperial stout and imprison it in a different barrel for a few months. From Jura whisky to smokehead intensity to Heaven Hill American hosts and rum for Christmas, we aim to showcase the effects of all sorts of barrels through these beers.

We're getting more and more experimental with barrels, and the more we explore, the more we understand and learn. Look our for more wine barrel-aged beers in partnership with Domaine Saint Rose very soon!

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Comments (7)

PeteH 5th September, 2014 1:38pm
We must be due for another Paradox.My favourite is still Smokehead, but that was the old 10% recipe. How about updating it to the new 15% recipe ?And, some of the other blogs have suggested Tequila barrels.Go on !! You know you want to .....
Kjello 4th September, 2014 1:35pm
Herno Gin in Sweden ( have an awesome juniper cask matured gin. Now, an ale aged in one of those casks would be awesome.
Chris H 4th September, 2014 1:31pm
How about do your next Paradox in Octomore casks?!?!?
AleBeHonest 4th September, 2014 1:14pm
Can you share with us some your less succesful barrel experiments? Surely there must have been some which didnt come out as expected, in a bad way!
Petey 4th September, 2014 12:39pm
Black eyed king iml in Australia?? Yes? Yes?
Illgetmycoat 4th September, 2014 11:30am
When Im given some time alone I tend to taste salty.
Lombear 4th September, 2014 11:08am
Dont forget San Diego Scotch ale - the warmth of the rum was pretty fantastic - maybe something similar soon?