Week 9 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. Bourbon barrel aged beer.
Despite the growing craft beer movement, the beer industry is still dominated by large industrial brewers like Anheuser Busch. So chances are, unless you are a beer afficionado, you aren’t likely to have tried a bourbon-barrel aged beer. Just like it sounds, a batch of beer is stored for a period of time -aging- in a bourbon barrel for a number of weeks. It gives the brew a distinctive flavor. And really, it’s quite the practical reuse of something that would otherwise be discarded.
Yep, that’s right. Bourbon producers only use a barrel once. That seems like such a waste! No worries, though, the rest of the whisky producing world is happy to take America’s bourbon barrels off her hands. Canada, Ireland, Scotland… they all use old bourbon barrels to store and age their whiskies. And of course, another one of the uses for a pre-owned bourbon barrel is aging beer. Even small-time microbreweries are acquiring old barrels for this purpose.
I chose to drink Allagash Brewery’s Curieux. And what a sexy brew it is! (Thus the ‘romance’ in the title.) It’s corked – champagne style. At eleven percent alcohol. it’s another butt-kicker, so be forewarned. Curieux is made by aging Allagash’s Belgian Tripel in Jim Beam barrels for eight weeks. At that time a splash of fresh tripel is added before kegging or bottling the batch. The end result? Hints of vanilla, coconut and bourbon… Yum! And wait till you hear this –the recommended food pairing is cheesecake, roquefort or creme brulee!! I think it’s really funny that beer has gotten snobby enough for food pairing! (snort!)
Ok, so I’m sipping on it, as I write this. The flavors are subtle. Not strongly of any one thing. Not real beer-like either. Highly carbonated but without a lot of head. Crisp and… woo! going straight to my head! Bring on the creme brulee…
Don’t forget to see what Lula drank this week!