Limited release, barrel-aged brews have been around for 20-plus years. For these typically high alcohol sippers, despite their hefty tariff, demand usually exceeded their seasonal supply. Well, the times they are a changin'. Bourbon barrel-aged brews have now joined a number of breweries' year round line-ups, and at prices that, while not cheap, won't break the bank. Here are three that will provide a little warmth on a cold winter evening.
BOULEVARD BOURBON BARREL QUAD, $3.99-$4.99
An explosive, very persistent three-finger head tops this dark amber brew. Sweet cherry and creme brulee aromas lead off, backed by spicy bourbon, vanilla and a touch of Belgian funk. At 11.8 percent alcohol, this is a boozy sipper that offers cherry liqueur flavors mixed with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, cola and spice. A big, bold brew.
FOUNDERS BACKWOODS BASTARD, $3.99-$4.39
The mocha-tinged head that covers this dark coffee-colored ale collapses quickly, but leaves a nice lacing. The bourbon element really comes through on the nose along with vanilla, toffee and whipped cream. There's a prominent whiskey bite mid-palate, surrounded by cocoa, fig, butterscotch and holiday eggnog. There's a bit of heat on the finish from the 11.2 percent alcohol.
INNIS & GUNN BOURBON BARREL PORTER, $2.99-$3.39
A ruby-tinged, dark-brown pour, it's topped by a thick, tan head that lingers. The array of mostly sweet aromas includes milk chocolate, cappuccino, vanilla, molasses, anise, raisin, date and brown bread, with a whiff of smoke. The flavor profile follows suit, adding touches of orange and caramel—and, at a more modest 7.4 percent alcohol, you get just a light hit of bourbon.