Ask Mr. Wizard

What style should I barrel-age?


Jason Munson Savannah, Georgia asks,

I have now completed my first successful batch of homemade beer and am excited to move on to new things. It took me nearly four years between a failed batch of vinegar-tasting stout to try again but now I have had a success. Over these past few years I have done plenty of reading and thinking on the processes I would use once I got into brewing on a regular basis. Now it would appear with my first success that this will become a regular thing and I have always had it in my mind to age a beer in a 5-gallon (19-L) oak barrel, possibly from a bourbon producer. From all I have read, it would appear as though those barrels are pretty much a one-time use. Is this true? If so, with such a large investment into a one-time use, what styles would you recommend for use in the barrel? I am not meaning what styles are commonly used but instead, if I am to try this experiment for my first time is there a style that would be better than another? I prefer heavy, dark beers but still love all styles and appreciate each for their own individual characteristics.

One of the most common beer types to age in bourbon barrels is strong stout. The rich, roasted flavors from the stout marry well with oak, vanilla, coconut, and Bourbon notes from
Response by Ashton Lewis.