Review: New Belgium Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale (2023)

Review: New Belgium Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale (2023)

As was the case with the 2022 release, New Belgium’s 2023 Oakspire bottling is barrel aged in Four Roses casks, a decidedly minimal departure compared to previous years’ shifts.

However, per the brand:

This year’s edition of Oakspire has been brewed through a proprietary infusion method to extract the rich flavors from the bourbon-soaked charred oak and deliver notes of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee. The release also comes with updated bold packaging, which offers the consumer a premium experience as they sit down to enjoy it with family and friends.

I think that’s all talking about the “oak spire” aging technique — rather than put the beer into whiskey casks, they put spirals of oak casks into the whiskey tanks to age it — and it’s all been part of Oakspire since the start.

Anyway, let’s see how it tastes.

I’d be hard-pressed to suggest that the beer, copper-hued, as always, has undergone any significant change in the last 12 months. Here we find a brew with an ample bourbonness to it, though unlike many barrel-aged beers, it’s never heavy or overbearing. The 9% abv helps with that — I’ve had IPAs with more booze in them — helping to keep the fizz light and vibrant, and allowing a range of flavors to emerge, including vanilla cola, dark chocolate, and ample malt, with touches of clover honey adding a swirl of sweetness.

Most barrel-aged brews are best consumed roughly 5 oz. at a time, but Oakspire’s 12 oz. bottles are — by comparison with other aged beers — almost sessionable, easy to polish off in one go. Again, if you’re looking for an over-the-top, black-as-night barrel-aged experience, there are plenty of other options on the market available for you to investigate. For those looking for a beer first, whiskey second, Oakspire is worth picking up.

9% abv.

A- / $16 per 6-pack /

New Belgium Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale (2023)




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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