Love Bourbon and Rye? Try a Barrel-Aged Beer

These beers are anything but ordinary.

25 Exceptional Barrel-Aged Craft Beers

Courtesy of Firestone Walker

In an increasingly crowded industry, one way to stand out in craft beer is by getting creative with aging. While certain styles like IPAs and lagers are best consumed fresh, many sour or strong beers only get better over time, especially by barrel-aging — a nerve-wracking endeavor that requires a lot of patience and a little faith. (Okay, probably a lot of faith, too.) From bourbon to rye, wine, rum, and even tequila, reused barrels can impart outrageous flavors that defy expectations. Sometimes, brewers even chase rumors of certain mythical barrels said to contain indefinable qualities with the ability to transform mere beer into something otherworldly. 

Each one of these beers showcases not only its maker, but the vision of those behind the barrels used to age them as well. Yes, there are a lot of bourbon barrels,  but there are also gin and rum barrels, coffee additions, one brewed with ants, and even a non-alcoholic option. For anyone who wishes to get into the barrel-aged beer arena, here are some top contenders. 

01 of 25

Black Tuesday by The Bruery

Barrel-Aged Craft Black Tuesday The Bruery

Courtesy of Black Tuesday

There are barrel-aged beers, and then there’s Black Tuesday. This legendary (and hard-to-get) release made The Bruery a craft beer household name in 2009 and has steadily risen in acclaim (and demand) ever since, thanks to its velvety complexity and huge finish. Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for two new and exclusive varietals coming in 2023.  

02 of 25

Quandary by River North Brewery

This aged Belgian Quadrupel (sometimes known as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale) encapsulates all the signature notes of the style: raisins, figs, and plums alongside a pronounced barrel character, culminating with a smooth and medium-bodied finish. Barrel varieties range from whiskey to rum (all clocking in at or around 10% ABV), but one crucial trait remains consistent: deliciousness.

03 of 25

Barrel-Aged Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Barrel-Aged Craft

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co

Sierra Nevada calls Narwhal their “legendary imperial stout,” and it would seem boastful if it weren’t true. The barrel-aged version takes it to eleven (11.9% ABV, to be precise) after resting in bourbon barrels for around a year before emerging from the depths with plenty of espresso, dark chocolate, vanilla, and oak personality. 

04 of 25

Dragon’s Milk 2022 Reserve 1 by New Holland Brewing

The lauded series from Michigan-based New Holland is available in a number of coveted varietals every year, but only the best make it into the Reserve Series. The 2022 release Reserve 1, a stout aged in rye barrels with cinnamon, toasted chiles, and vanilla extract, is a rich, spicy take on a high-octane brew.

05 of 25

Beer : Barrel : Time by Side Project Brewing

Barrel-Aged Craft

Courtesy of Side Project Brewing

Side Project owner and brewer Cory King says while they always drop different versions of Beer : Barrel : Time during their annual Black Friday release, the best way to experience the iconic line of beers is to try a few from various barrels ranging from rye to 10 Year Old Rip Van Winkle. “It’s our expression of what barrel-aged beer can be without any adjuncts hiding anything or teasing you. It’s a pure expression,” he promises. 

06 of 25

Straight Jacket by Revolution Brewing

At 15% ABV, Straight Jacket definitely gets your attention from first sip. Plenty of caramelized sugar, light vanilla, and big bourbon notes radiate through this intense bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine, which falls under Revolution’s Deep Wood Series (arguably one of the best barrel programs in the United States). 

07 of 25

Might Meets Right 2022 Coconut Coffee by Temperance Beer Company

Part winter warmer, part tropical escape, this coconut-crazy, coffee-infused stout aged in bourbon and rye barrels is one of the more multi-dimensional brews out there. Temperance manages to find balance in the chaos, resulting in an imperial-strength, yet surprisingly refreshing and drinkable concoction perfect for a balmy holiday evening.

08 of 25

Curieux by Allagash Brewing Company

Barrel-Aged Craft Beers Curieux by Allagash

Courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company

Any number of Allagash’s beers could have made this list, but this bourbon barrel-aged golden ale comes packed with plenty of Belgian beauty and woody wonder that finishes dry and complex. Best of all, it’s available all year round, making it a perennial crowd pleaser any day of the week.

09 of 25

Resplendent Quetzal by Pure Project

Barrel-Aged Craft Resplendent Quetzal by Pure Project


Brewed for the San Diego-based brewery’s seventh anniversary, this beast of a beer was named for a neotropical bird revered by ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, whose bright colors inspired the splashy label. Aged in bourbon barrels with organic Vanuatu vanilla bean and pecans, it’s a brew worth its weight in alcohol volume (14.1% ABV).

10 of 25

Eclipse by FiftyFifty Brewing Company

Eclipse requires nearly a full year to create, but always starts with a base of their imperial stout Totality. Every release has a stint in a specific bourbon barrel, followed by blending and bottling, and voilà! Barrel-aged mythology created in real-time. It’s phenomenal when drunk fresh, but aging it further only adds to the allure. 

11 of 25

The Abyss by Deschutes Brewery

The unique personality of this 11% ABV imperial stout aged in oak bourbon barrels includes hints of licorice and molasses, while additional versions utilize sherry and port barrels for an even more extensive twist. Staring into the abyss never seemed so tantalizing.

12 of 25

Willettized by Lagunitas Brewing Company

Kentucky spirits maker Willett Distillery lent their rye and bourbon barrels to Lagunitas for this 13.1% ABV coffee stout with wafts of dark chocolate, vanilla, and oaky, smoky goodness. It might be a limited release, but its pleasure knows no bounds. 

13 of 25

Bourbon County Brand Stout - 30th Anniversary Reserve Stout by Goose Island Beer Co.

Barrel-Aged Craft

Courtesy of Goose Island Brewing

Goose Island’s annual (and groundbreaking) lineup of BCBS variants is a siren’s call to any barrel-aged beer lover. This year’s use of small batch Jim Beam barrels helped the 30th Anniversary narrowly eke past the Two-Year Barleywine Reserve for top honors, but really, it’s a win-win. 

14 of 25

Pipewrench By Gigantic Brewing

Inspired by the namesake cocktail, which entails dropping a shot of gin into an IPA, this offbeat and botanicals-focused brew is the rare aged IPA kept in gin barrels for three months. Packed with orange and lemon peel, juniper berries, and tropical hop notes, this genre-defying brew redefines the entire barrel-aged category. 

15 of 25

Barrel-Aged Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout by AleSmith Brewing Company

Barrel-Aged Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout

Courtesy of AleSmith

AleSmith has plenty of barrel-aged prizewinners to crave, but this 14.2% varietal uses a deft hand to combine Vietnamese coffee with bourbon barrel character and plenty of oak and vanilla for something truly spectacular. Paired with food is great. Aging it is even better. 

16 of 25

2022 Parabola by Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Barrel-Aged Craft Parabola by Firestone Walker

Courtesy of Firestone Walker

Walking into Firestone Walker’s barrel room is akin to achieving nirvana as a beer lover. Parabola has been a classic for years, but last year’s iteration aged entirely in 12-year-old bourbon barrels for the first time ever, giving an extra edge on an everlasting icon. 

17 of 25

Sahalie by The Ale Apothecary

Bottles from Oregon-based The Ale Apothecary are hard to come by, but easy to lose yourself in. Sahalie, their flagship wild ale, spends about a year in oak barrels to develop as much complexity as it can before issuing an invitation to your tastebuds to come and explore. Challenge gladly accepted.

18 of 25

Chicatanazzz by Forager Brewery

This far-out experiment started with a rye whiskey barrel-aged stout, first blended with a barrel-aged vanilla stout before receiving five pounds of ground-up chicatanas, or leafcutter ants. The result is a smoky, silky, spicy beer meant for the open-minded. 

19 of 25

Uncle Stepdad by Everybody's Brewing

In a sea of bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts, Uncle Stepdad remains a noteworthy example of how a big style doesn’t have to be loud or obnoxious to be noticed. Balanced, complex, and with a reasonable ABV of 10.5%, this is one to sip and savor. 

20 of 25

Gravitas IV Non-Alcoholic Barrel-Aged Bourbon Stout by Bravus Brewing Co.

This limited release bourbon barrel-aged stout has all the barrel character without any of the booze. With giant whiffs of maple syrup, dark chocolate, caramel, and oak, Gravitas brings the party without the aftereffects. 

21 of 25

Ginger Bread Big Bad Baptist by Epic Brewing Co.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from Epic’s lineup of BBB releases, but Ginger Bread's impressive blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and vanilla in an imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels makes this a sweet treat that still manages to remain balanced. 

22 of 25

Barrel-Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale by Oxbow Brewing Co.

Oxbow’s extensive portfolio of barrel-aged wonders sets the stage for quantity as well as quality, but it’s their farmhouse ales that rise above. By barrel-aging in French and American oak barrels, Oxbow transforms their flagship farmhouse ale into an even more eminently drinkable mixed-fermentation elixir full of saison sensibility. 

23 of 25

High West Barrel Aged Victory at Sea by Ballast Point

Victory at Sea is an impressive expression of coffee and cold brew beer in itself, but after resting in bourbon and rye oak casks, this smoky imperial porter transcends expectations. Best enjoyed with a couple o’ mateys.

24 of 25

Secret Santa Stout by Pilot Brewing

Any of Pilot’s barrel-aged stouts are worth trying, but the version aged for nine weeks in Colorado whiskey barrels is a slam dunk every time. With Ecuadorian cocoa nibs at the forefront and a hint of coconut in the finish, each sip will keep you guessing. 

25 of 25

A Deal With The Devil Triple Oaked by Anchorage Brewing

Barrel-Aged Craft A Deal with the Devil

Courtesy of Anchorage Brewing

Anchorage’s barleywine ages in a bourbon barrel for nearly a year before transferring to a new barrel for another 10 months, at which point it makes its second-to-last journey to a final barrel for one more 10 month stint. After that, it’s straight to packaging and its final destination: your mouth. Founder and brewer Gabe Fletcher promises that the extra time (and barrels) makes it worth the wait.

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