Things Beer Geeks Like

from theweeklybrew

Barrel Aged Beers


From the time beer was first brewed, till the modern era, beer has been fermented, aged, and served from vessels made of wood, or clay. Thanks to modern methods and lighter weight metals beer in the US for a long time never even knew what wood looked like. Lately thought that’s been changing. It seems any brewer worth their salt is barrel aging. Some brewers have even gone so far as to offer barrel aged versions of their main lines to the more discerning geek. And the discerning geeks do line up in droves.

The ironic part is many of these geeks don’t understand the nature of wood, nor it’s relationship to the beer. They just know barrel aging is supposed to make it better. They will gladly pay for a barrel aged version of their favorite brew, and generally assert it is infinitely better then the original version. It could taste like a Louisville Slugger and they still would praise it. After all, if you age it in wood it should taste like wood right? So if it doesn’t taste like tree something must be wrong.

Barrel aging is no longer the pitch lined containers of yore that were more of a necessity then a luxury. Today’s top brewers must compete for the attention of the ADD masses that consume their brews. To do this they like to use used barrels for their aging… And not just any used barrels either. They want wine barrels, whiskey barrels. rum barrels…. the list goes on. If you’ve used it, they’ll age beer in it.

Brewers also seem to have realized that beer geeks are the ultimate examples of adult ADD. When people question whether or not barrel aging brings anything unique to the table they just announce a special barrel aged version of a popular beer and the geeks follow like cattle from event to event, all hoping they are worthy enough that a brewer will tap a special barrel aged batch for them. For beer geeks a beer soaked with wood is the ultimate wet dream. Hey, it sounds kinky talking about wet dreams and wood in the same sentence.

I once heard someone say when everyone tries to be unique we all end up the same. I think that about sums up barrel aged beers. 🙂


4 Responses to “Things Beer Geeks Like”

  1. Capital Taps says:

    I think you’re too sanguine about these beers. The problem with barrel-aged beers is not that the brewers are returning to older styles of brewing. The trend is not an honorable nod to “antiquity” and tradition. Rather, it’s a gimmicky trend that apes the manufacture and marketing of wine. It’s an attempt to go upscale and make a white-collar and lipstick product – on which the margins are better, of course. You cite ADD – the trend is part of a quest for novelty, the development of stunt beers, rather than for quality. Some brewers are experimenting with wood influence honestly, but I think most of them are just chasing the higher margins and sexy imagery. Here’s an example of the way Firestone uses wine marketing to sell their beer.

  2. Jared says:

    Hey, I remember that post. I thought you nailed it on the head there.

    While I don’t dissagree with anything you said I would just like to point out that the post wasn’t meant to fully discuss the barrell aging issue. I’ve kinda set aside Fridays as a time to joke about the silly things beer geeks do and how they appear to the uninitiated. Personally I kinda enjoy brewery tours, even if it is only to chat with the brewer. And while I think most barrell aging is silly I have had barrell aged beers I’ve enjoyed. My point was to show what this looks like to non beer geeks and just poke fun at the way we act about things. I think you are spot on though with everything you’ve stated about it being gimicky. I would add though that in the case of some beers it is a nod towards older styles. Barrel aged sours where the bacteria is cultured over years and years in the barrel are an example. I didnt make it as clear, but barrels of ole werent necesarily for flavor, just like you pointed out. Yet still alot of beer geeks like to consider it a nod towards the old brewing traditions.

  3. kchophead says:

    So Jared, how do you discern yourself with a beer geek as you refer to beer geeks as “them”? Ha ha. Do us beer geeks have blogs?

    The A.D.D. and compulsive buying has led me to my latest post (Sept 1) about taking the month of September off of spending on beer.

    About the wood aged stuff. I have been really enjoying the whiskey or bourbon soaked wood. Out here in KC, a new Dopplebock came out with Cedar aging. It is quite delcious and adds a nice piney flavor. I recommend cedar aging with an IPA.

  4. Jared says:

    Who is a beer geek?? Good question 🙂 For my Friday posts I’m kinda loosely using the term geek since those posts are more about laughing at beer culture. I do consider myself a geek though. In fact I would say anyone with a blog about craft beer is automatically a geek 🙂 In fact that may be a futeure “Things Beer Geeks Like” post

    Ya, I fall into the ADD trap alot at the bottle store. I’m pretty sure if I allowed myself I could blow a whole paycheck on beer, barrel aged ones included. Very comendable of you to cut back. It’s something I’ve considered doing, but I have to many good excuses to use. I think once I get back into the swing where I have alot of homebrew on hand I’ll cut back on buying beer again.

    I’m not saying barrel aged can’t = good beer, just that barrel aged doesn’t automatically = good beer. I think it’s something forgotten now. Especially since so many breweries are hoping on that bandwagon.

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