Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Over a Barrel
March 2013
Volume 2 Issue 6 
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
Much like music or film, beer comes in a variety of styles and sub-genres with dedicated followers. One such devotee is the "hop head." If you're unfamiliar with the term, it describes fans of intense, hoppy beers. Just as committed as the hop head, though, are the fans of barrel aged beers. In this issue we'll run through four delicious barrel aged beers and finish up with a beer based riff of the classic Negroni cocktail.



Dan Downes
New Holland Dragon's Milk
Founders Curmudgeon
Weyerbacher Insanity
New Belgium La Folie
Beer Cocktail

Barrel Aged Beers

The concept behind barrel aged beers seems simple enough (brew beer, put it in a barrel, take it out, put the aged beer in a bottle), but how does it really change the base product? In general, barrel aged beers fall into two categories: a) strong, robust and high alcohol beers (e.g. stouts, barleywines) and b) sours. The former work not only because they are bold enough to withstand the aging process, but they also contain attributes that marry well with flavors the wood imparts. Sour beers see the inside of a barrel to give them taste, but mostly because of the wild yeast and microorganisms inside the wood give these beers their signature taste.
Just like in the wine and distilling world, BA beers suffer from the "angel's share." This refers to the portion of liquid lost due to evaporation during the aging process. Not only does this result in a lower yield, it can also cause oxidation or unwanted infections in the beer. This is only part of the reason as to why barrel aged beers are quite the undertaking for breweries. 
New Holland Dragon's Milk

The first beer in our BA expedition comes from New Holland Brewing. Earning its name from a 17th century term for strong beer usually reserved for royalty, you'll feel like a king when it hits your glass. An opaque black color with a thin tan head, you can tell right away that this beer has been aged in Heaven Hill barrels as strong oak and bourbon aromas fill the air. 
In the taste department, Dragon's Milk showcases its barrel aged properties without letting them take over everything. Smooth milk chocolate and vanilla tones add to the complexity. Slightly sweet, there's enough of a roasted malt component and toasted quality to balance things out. Medium-low carbonation, the beer has a distinct smoothness about it. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try out their Beer Barrel Bourbon, where they take a 5 year old bourbon and age it a second time in spent Dragon's Milk barrels!
Founders Curdugeon


The next beer draws its inspiration from classic seafaring ports, local pubs and weathered old fisherman. Founders brews their Curmudgeon Old Ale focusing on the malt bill, adding molasses and then aging it in oak. Pouring a deep chestnut color, molasses and caramel aromas come initially. They combine with bready malt characteristics to give the impression of pumpernickel bread. Figs, and caramelized sugars strike the palate, too. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, the oak and warmth from this 9.8% brew come at the end leaving a welcoming finish.

Traquair House Ale
The next beer comes from Scotland's oldest inhabited house. Dating back to 1107, Traquair was originally a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland. The brewery portion of the grounds dates back to the 18th century where it produced beer for the house and estate workers. It was disused some time after 1800 but the vessels and equipment remained untouched until rediscovered in 1965.
Classified as a scotch ale (or wee heavy) the House Ale was the first beer produced from the newly reopened brewery and has been growing ever since. Ruby colored, a bouquet of raisins, candied apples and a slight smokiness arise. Taste mirrors the smell with vanilla, plum and sherry-like characteristics following as well. The previous beers demonstrated bourbon flavors, but this beer is for the scotch drinker who desires earthy/peaty features. Once the snow melts, this would be an ideal choice to enjoy with a cigar out on the patio!
New Belgium La Folie

We take a big turn from the previous three beers and move into sour beer territory. Classified as a Flemish Brown Ale (or Oud Bruin) New Belgium ages in French Oak barrels between one and three years before being bottled. As mentioned earlier, this process provides flavor, but also creates the environment to produce the sour notes (more information can be found in a previous newsletter here).

The shade of dark cherries, this beer smells a lot like green apples with a side of caramel. The taste also gives the illusion of Granny Smith apples. The tartness will make your mouth pucker, but there's still enough sweetness and cracker-like malt to give you other sensations. Combined with the oak aging, this beer really has some layers beyond the acidity of the spontaneous fermentation. People who have never this type of beer before don't believe me, but sour ales can be truly refreshing. Next time you're throwing some steaks on the grill, try pairing it with La Folie!
Beer Cocktail

The Negroni is one of my personal favorite cocktails. The quintessential aperitif, how could it get any better? By adding beer, that's how! Named the Bellagroni, this easy to make cocktail works both as a pre-dinner libation and a backyard sipper.


Pilsner (I used O'so Memory lane, but others will work)


Combine 1/2 oz Campari and 1/2 oz Gin with ice in a shaker.

Strain into a tall beer glass and top with 6 oz chilled pilsner.

Garnish with an orange twist

Save 10%
Receive 10% of all beers featured in Volume 2 Issue 6 of the Ray's craft beer newsletter. Thus, it is limited to New Holland Dragon's Milk, Traquair House Ale, Founders Curmudgeon and New Belgium La Folie. No limit. Not redeemable with any other special offers. 


Offer Expires: Sunday March 10th at 5:00pm
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

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Dan & the gang at Ray's

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