What is the point of barrel aging a beer? In my mind, it is too alter the taste of the beer naturally. This brings forth different flavors then you get when the beer comes from the fermenter. Different types of barrels give you different taste additions. New barrels give a different taste then second or third use barrels. Those barrels will add notes from the liquor they were originally used to age.
You the most common beers are the big dark beers like imperial stouts and Baltic porters. Those beers are high enough in ABV to stand up the notes added by the barrels. The alcohol taste also mellows over time letting other flavors come through. The danger with barrel aging is two-fold. First, will you must choose the correct barrel to add notes that will enhance the drinker’s experience. Second, are you gilding the lily?
The Durty Bull Baltic Porter is aged in bourbon barrels. Baltic porters are malty, high ABV beers indigenous to the countries bordering the Baltic Sea. They are one of the original winter warmers. The Durty Bull version clocks in at 10% abv. Beer gets very little alcohol from the remnants of the bourbon in the barrels. That is a misconception many make about barrel aged beers. The beer starts with a high ABV so that it can age and develop.
This Baltic Porter is a very dark brown bordering on black beer that develops a good foamy tan head when poured. The aroma is a good combination of breadiness, pruniness, and hints of floral hops and sherry. Hints of cinnamon from the bourbon soaked barrels are present.
The alcohol taste is well-hidden when one considers how high the content is. The hops are restrained in a good floral way. The highlight of the taste is the dark fruit, caramel, and sherry taste you get from the aging. Pro tip: when the beer is good, it isn’t oxidized it is aged. That is why brewers use beers high in alcohol in the barreling program. There is also a touch of coffee in end. The beer has a short and dry finish that encourages further exploration.
This is a solid Baltic Porter with good flavor accentuated by barrel aging. A beer this flavorful needs a food that can stand up to what it brings. A few good food possibilities are Bibimbap (with chili paste), roasted root vegetables, or a red snapper prepared in a tureen.
Durty Bull recently signed with a distributor for NC, so you should be able to find it at a bottle shop near you.