Brewer’s Notes: Barrel-Aged Barleywine

Crooked and Steep Batch #02 is a bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine, weighing in at 11% ABV.

Barleywines have long been a cold-weather favorite, a rich and strong beer to provide sustenance and cheer during the days when the days are short and chilly, and a great beer to enjoy during holiday celebrations. They pair well with a wide variety of foods, especially meats, harder cheeses and savory dishes.

Barleywines as a rule fall into two types – with old world varieties (mostly British in origin) being sweeter and highly malty/fruity beers, and new world varieties tending towards being more bitter and hoppy. Both versions have adherents; for our taste both are amazing beer styles that are well worth seeking out.  For this iteration of our Crooked and Steep series, we wanted to add some complexity via barrel aging, so brewed a beer more in the old world tradition to better compliment the flavors that the beer, given time, could coax out of the wood.


The barrels selected for this batch came from Elijah Craig and Maker’s Mark. Bourbon notes add a nice compliment, but happily don’t overwhelm the base beer’s fruity/malty backbone. Vanilla notes combined with the melange of fruit flavors give an almost sherry-like flavor to my taste, with the alcoholic content giving a nice dryness to the finish. The beer is fairly light in color for a barleywine – but fully malty, with layers of fruit (stone fruit, berries, some citrus) underneath. This beer would pair exceptionally well with harder cheeses like manchego or emmentaler, and any roasted or grilled meat.


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