Aging beer in oak barrels isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s a trend that seems to be taking off. While Deschutes is easily the leader in this tiny mini-industry, now some of the bigger players are getting in on the action.
Samuel Adams has recently released three barrel-aged brews, each quite different. (Be warned though that the narrow corks make the bottles nearly impossible to get open if you have normal-sized hands. I had to resort to pliers.)
Samuel Adams American Kriek – Mmmm, with a name like Kriek it has to be good. Flavored with Balaton cherries native to Hungary and now grown in Michigan, this beer has the appearance of Hawaiian Punch and a little of the flavor too. Extremely sweet and a bit tart with cherry notes, there’s a good amount of maltiness in the body but wood character is hard to come by in this one. 7% alcohol. B
Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red – A big red brew, more tart than the Kriek with intense fruit — juicy, to be honest. The big apple and cherry characters are cut with leather and tobacco… sounds almost like a wine to write about it, but don’t fool yourself: No oenophile will confuse Stony Brook Red for anything made from grapes. 9% alcohol. C+
Samuel Adams New World Tripel – Golden in color with a big foamy head, this beer is incredibly misleading in appearance. Hugely fruity, it uses a Belgian yeast strain to turn what looks like a lager into something approaching a Mai Tai. Very disconcerting and hard to get used to — but, I’ll admit, truly something different. 10% alcohol. B
each $11 per 750ml bottle / samueladams.com