Bourbon Stout Cherries
We would love to pretend like barrel aged beer is something a trend setting, bearded, flannel wearing brewer invented just a handful of years ago, igniting a craft beer phenomenon that’s taken over the bottle shops.
But that’s not the case. In the dawn of civilization, when beer and humanity where in their infant hood, beer wasn’t just aged in wood barrels, but brewed, fermented and stored in wooden barrels. We’ve recently rediscovered the beautiful flavors oak barrels transmit into our beers. The caramel, vanilla, fruit and toffee, along with a huge kick of warm alcohol to our favorite brews, make these beers to seek out.
What is barrel aging?
You can age any beer in a barrel, it just isn’t always a good idea. Most beers that are chosen for barrel aging are usually darker, maltier beers. Think: stouts, porters, brown ales or scotch ales. Once the beer is brewed and ready for aging, it’s transferred to a wooden, usually oak, barrel. Breweries generally buy these barrels from wineries or distilleries, there is only one brewery in the world that makes their own, Rogue Ales in Portland. Most of the time these are barrels that were perviously used to age wine or spirits. Bourbon barrels are the most common. Since these barrels had previously housed bourbon for years, the wood is still soaked with the liquor. As the beer ages in the barrels, the beer soaks up the liquor, taking on the flavors of the previous tenant. Beer is aged for as little as one month and as long as several years, but most commonly just less than a year. Barrel aged beers have an intensely boozy flavor, and a much higher ABV than most beer. They are best served in small amounts in snifter or tulip glasses.
I’m a sucker for a good barrel aged stout. These are beers to share, beers to sample, beers that you don’t forget. For these boozy cherries, perfect for your next cocktail, I used Track #10 from The Lost Abbey. A beer that should be shared, and can’t be forgotten.
- ¾ cup Bourbon
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup barrel aged stout
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ lbs Bing cherries, pitted
- Add the bourbon, sugar, stout and vanilla bean to a saucepan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cherries to a re-sealable jar, pour bourbon/beer mixture over the cherries. Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour. Seal and refrigerate for at least two days before serving.