this post whilst I was actually writing this one) I think it's unfairly so too, because when people write about them, they all seem to get lumped in together under one same broad style, when most of the time people are only just talking about one or to beers.
I was really surprised to see a comment on one of Tandleman's posts the other day, from a respectable beer enthusiast I may add, which stated; "There is no such thing as a great barrel aged beer" which was a comment response to my promoting of Harveistoun's Ola Dubh being one of my 'greats'.
At first I was a little confused, as if to say 'are you really serious?' but then it made me a little sad because, while that may be one person's opinion about the style of beer, I think it's a very closed minded opinion. The comment seems to put forward the idea that said person will find all barrel aged beers terrible, and will dismiss them all before even trying them.
I didn't even understand how someone could be so broadly dismissive when you've certainly not tried all the barrel aged beers the world has to offer. It's a bit like saying all Jazz music is horrible after listening to just one generic Greatest Jazz Hits Album.
Let's look at barrel aging though. It's purely a practice of aging beers in wooden vessels, which could have been previously used to age and store a multitude of beverages like; whisky, wine, rum and even other beers etc. If we take the premise that barrel aged beer is beer just aged on any form of wood (which it is) then I think some people drink, and champion, barrel aged beers more often (and in some cases, unknowingly) than one might think.
After all, many Belgian brewers have been using wood for centuries. Would you say that Rodenbach Grand Cru is a bad barrel aged beer? OK, it might not fit into our definition of 'barrel' when it's aged, but it's still matured on wood! (huge wooden vats to be precise) Barrel aging isn't just for the new young guns in brewing. It's not what's hip/cool/new in at the moment, it's been around since we learned to craft wood. Hell, even Green King barrel age quite a few of their beers, something which many people seem to forget.
I could go on for quite a bit about the virtues and my love of wood (I took a degree in furniture after all) but I thought now would be a better time than any to just get stuck into some of the stuff!
This light red amber, crystal clear beer presents itself with aromas of pure rich caramelised tangerines and sweet honey. It smells slightly vegetal with hints of floral heather inviting you in. The beer is sweet and rich with an incredible smoothness which really lifts and compliments the vanilla, toffee, smoky oak and nutty honey flavour that you get from the whisky. Slightly toasted meringue and a touch of lime with just the smallest hint of smoky heather. It's a sort of, Barley Wine meets Rauch - which is re-donkulously delicious!
I love me some wood aged beers. I guess if you don't, then I just feel sorry for the fact that you don't have to palate for it. I would say stop acting with such a one tracked mind, but I'm guessing you've already laid down your rails. Barrel aged beers will always play a big part in my life, it could be because I really like whisky, it could be because I really like my wood. I'm not really bothered - I just really like the stuff. Anyway, here's my top five favourites (so far):
1 - Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
2 - Harveistoun Ola Dubh
3 - Orkney Dark Island Reserve
4 - Firestone Parabola
5 - This beast - Fraoch 22 aged on Auchentoshan beastly casks.