Friday, March 30, 2012

Troegs Nugget Nectar

For beer nerds in the Northeast, there are few things that signal that Spring is arriving more than Nugget Nectar. It is brewed in Pennsylvania by Troegs, a family brewery that puts out a good variety of well made beer. To give you an idea of how much people love this beer, I will tell a short anecdote. My local beer store received 30 cases of Nugget Nectar one Thursday afternoon and posted on their facebook around 1pm that they had it. I went at 4:30 and snagged the last available 6 pack. Since I had never had this before, I had to try it, so I was very happy to get my hands on some. 

To give a little bit of info, Nugget Nectar is an Imperial Amber style. It is also 7.5% ABV, so it packs a little bit of a punch, but is by no means too boozy. To be perfectly honest, regardless of how it is labeled, Nugget Nectar is an IPA to me. It is a good IPA, but still an IPA. Generally I think of Ambers as having a maltier flavor than their IPA cousins. Nugget Nectar, as the name implies, has no shortage of hops. None at all. The hops are present in the beer from your first whiff to the last drop that remains on your tongue.  

Don't get me wrong, I like the beer. I just think it may be mislabeled. I had been reading all sorts of reviews in my preparation for first tasting and I happen to disagree with a lot of them. First of all, the mostly widely proclaimed thing about this is how the malt is striking. Maybe I am just not used to the style, or maybe I am just more accustomed to the big malts of Belgian beers, but I found the maltiness to be light and pleasant. The beer is extremely drinkable, albeit hoppy. 

I came to the IPA conclusion after my second Nugget Nectar of the night one Thursday. If someone had told me that it is an IPA, I wouldn't bat an eyelash. I also happen to think that it is an extremely well made IPA. It isn't overly hoppy for an IPA and the malt does provide a good balance with that in mind. 
Please don't get on my case for having this issue with the style. I am very clear about the fact that I am not a hop head. I am very familiar with a lot of different beer style, however, and this tastes like the best American IPA I have had to date. 

I really did enjoy Nugget Nectar. It is a delicious beer. However, among the beer snob community in the Northeast, my simple mention of the style issue would be enough to get me berated by a hop head (it has happened before). Everybody needs to cool it when someone doesn't like a beer that they do. Everybody has their own palate and that should be respected. It actually speaks to how good of a beer Nugget Nectar is. It is a style that I don't particularly care for, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. That's my two cents. You can take it or leave it.

Glassware: Pint glass, mug

Synonym Beer: Ithaca Cascazilla

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today's post is going to celebrate yesterday, which was World Whiskey Day and Michael Jackson's (the beer and whiskey critic) birthday. I will do so by covering a whisky that I would probably not have tried, if it were not for my trip across Scotland. This isn't to say that you can't find it in the states, but with the sheer number of whiskies out there, I don't know if I would have gotten to it.

As shown by the above photo, Benromach 10 year is a single malt whisky from the Speyside region of Scotland. 10 year olds are generally the youngest single malt whiskies that you will be able to find, so usually they are a little less refined. Even if you are accustomed to single malts, I wouldn't overlook the 10 year olds, especially the Benromach. You might be pleasantly surprised (not to mention that they are less expensive). 

Benromach 10's flavor profile is not overly different from other whiskies from Speyside. It has a sweet, almost vanilla nose (due to the sherry cask that it is aged in) with only the slightest hint of peat smoke. The vanilla also comes through in the flavor, accented with some subtle dried fruit and very little burn. I could go on for a long time with the flavors, but you have no reason to believe me. Just go try some.

Ok, that's enough of the flavor/nose description and leave it at: Benromach is a very smooth, subtly complex Speyside whisky that is very reasonably priced for how good I think it is. 

One of the reasons why I have a soft spot for Benromach is that I first had it in a quaint little hotel in Aberdeen. Having already had a few whiskies, I was chatting up the bartender with my brother and he suggested Benromach as a "very mature whisky for its age." I wholeheartedly agree with this. It is much smoother than I would expect from a 10 year. 

Maybe this is because it is made (according to them) to be made by 2 men at Speyside's smallest distillery. Whatever the reason behind it, Benromach is still a very good Scottish whisky. I would strongly suggest giving it a shot, especially if you like Speyside malts. 

I'm positive that I have mentioned this before: How much you enjoy your drink (especially whisky) is affected by your environment.

This being said, you should probably surround yourself with good company when you sit down to try your next whisky. (You could always invite me!)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Destination: Harvest Spirits

Welcome to Harvest Spirits!

Harvest Spirits is one of the many farm distilleries that have popped up in New York. It is located in Valatie, NY, about 20 minutes south east of Albany, open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5. If you aren't paying attention, you might just drive past it, because it is located just behind a farm stand, Golden Harvest. Since the distillery is so photogenic, I included almost all of the pictures that I took. Expect a ton. I don't think you'll mind though.

The first thing you will notice is the smell. Like most distilleries, it is sweet and a little boozy, but if you like liquor, it is a wonderful smell. Next, you will notice the decor. The distillery is setup with all of the charm of a rustic farmhouse, with the notable exception of a bright copper still sitting in the corner, a large bar taking up about a quarter of the room, and barrels literally everywhere. You'll certainly be greeted by one of the few extremely friendly guys that work there, generally Collin. Even though I have only been there a handful of times (with large gaps in between visits), Collin always recognized me, which I happen to find impressive. 

Now on to the reason why I visit. Harvest Spirits makes a variety of spirits, but their main liquor, the one they are known for, is Cornelius Applejack. One of the reasons is that it is phenomenal, the other is that very few places make Applejack. In case you are unfamiliar, Applejack is effectively a whiskey that is made with apples. It is aged in barrels, but not for too long, so it has the pale brown that you would expect from a lightly oaked whiskey. The taste is almost like a bourbon, a little sweet, but I'll get into this more in a different post.  

Let's say that whiskey isn't your thing. Well, don't let that stop you from driving out. Tastings are $1 a piece (max of three so you can still drive) and you get to pick from their selection of spirits. They produce a vodka (Core), made from apples. If you know me, you probably know that I detest vodka, because I feel like I can't stand behind a liquor that tastes less the "better" it is. Core is different. It is far and away the best vodka I have ever had, just a hint of sweetness and almost creamy. 

They also recently came out with an alteration on the Core, Black Raspberry Core. For this, they add fresh squeezed raspberry juice to their Core and redistill it, adding a splash more to give it the distinctive red color. Don't think for a second that it is like you're normal flavored vodkas. The raspberry flavor is subtle and pleasant, since the vodka is redistilled. Even if you don't generally like vodka, it would be worth your time to give the Core vodkas a shot. 

Not in the mood for vodka? Fine. Go with one of the many brandies that they produce. They have a couple un-aged brandies (apple and pear). They also have an aged pear brandy, called Rare Pear (this is my favorite of the bunch). They also make a couple different Grappas. This is something that I would suggest. Their grappas are less, pardon the technical term, burny. It is much less harsh than any of the other grappas that I have tried. I actually found the taste very pleasant. Worth giving it a shot. 

One of the fun things that they like to do at Harvest Spirits is infuse their products. They have a shelving unit that is literally full of different infusions of their various spirits. All you need to do is ask them about them. Chat it up. Make it more interesting for them, so they don't have to give the same spiel to everybody that comes in, and you get more info on some of the things they are trying out. Who knows, they might even let you try some. I've had their bacon infused Applejack and it was just perfect. 

You'll have a good time, regardless of if they are busy or it is slow, but I generally like to go when it is empty. This way, I get to ask all of my stupid questions in relative safety and I don't feel like I'm bothering them (which I can all but assure you that you never could). Plus, you might get a chance to try something interesting. I was given the opportunity to try their hard cider, which is not sold, but rather is distilled to make their spirits. They seem to think that it wouldn't sell well on its own, but I really enjoy it. 

First things first, what is wrong with the above photo? You have probably noticed that there are more than a few photos with barrels that have art on the top. There were really too many to take pictures of, but my favorite is the barrel of monkeys one. They are always open to new designs, so if you are artistically inclined, you can stop by with one of your designs and they might let you put it on a barrel. Pretty cool of them.

It is really not hard to find, and it is a short trip from Albany. You can go, grab some fruit and cider doughnuts from the farm stand (the best I have ever had), then head over to the distillery. Take in the art, the smells, pet their dog, chat with the guys, and check out a cool local distillery. While you're there, you should try some of their liquor as well. 

Check out their website here.

Also, when you go, let me know and I'll come along. It is always worth a trip.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saranac White IPA and the Joy of Hybrids

Here is a post where I am going to make a statement, then promptly contradict myself (a little). 

Statement: I really don't like when a beer doesn't fit within its set-forth tasting guidelines. 

Contradiction: I love when styles are blended. 

In this case, the beer doesn't match either of the two "parent" styles, but takes a bit from each, creating a unique tasting beer. Some of these hybrid beers are relatively common, like the Black Saison. Technically, a saison is light in body and exhibits a refreshing taste. They should never be dark in color, unless they are a Black Saison. These use darker malts to give a completely different feel to the beer. I suppose my issue is when a brewery makes an Imperial IPA and calls it a Pale Ale. Not the same.

Misrepresenting beer is really my pet peeve. Hybrid, on the other hand, I am cool with. In fact, many of my home brews are kind of hybrids. I just appreciate when this is noted, so I know what I am getting into.  Today's beer is the Saranac White IPA. As the name suggests, it is a Wheat IPA, generally a style that is not made. The closest style is probably a Wheat Pale Ale, the style that most "Summer" beers are. To me, it is more like a blend between a Belgian Witte beer and an American IPA. 

I initially bought the bottle because I had never seen the style. I was skeptical, but the taste was actually great. Don't judge the style before you try it. It becomes clear that the Matts (the brewing brothers that own Saranac) knew exactly what they were doing in making this beer. The bitterness that is normally associated with an IPA is balanced well by the sweetness you would normally expect from from a Witte. The result is kind of what I expected from the beginning, tasking almost like someone paired a Witte and an IPA and mixed them together, which was better than I expected. 

The best way to describe it in my mind is that it tastes like a very flavorful British IPA. The body is very smooth and the taste is subtle. The hops are present, but not overbearing. The sweetness is pleasant, not cloying. Everything was in perfect balance. I would suggest this to anyone that likes both of the styles. Even if you are feeling adventurous (you don't need to be very adventurous) it is a good buy from a great New York brewery. Plus, the White IPA comes in the spring variety pack from Saranac, so you get to try a bunch of great beers at a very reasonable price. I really wish I had some more of this, because as the weather is getting warmer, I'm finding myself craving one in the warm, sunny afternoons. 

Glassware: Pint Glass, Hefe glass

Synonym Beer: A more flavorful Deuchar's IPA (Unless you are from Scotland, you probably don't know it)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hellhound on My Ale

Dogfish Head is one of the Godfathers of craft beer in the US. If you are from the Northeast, as soon as you start getting into craft beer, you will be quickly introduced to the interesting beers of Dogfish Head. I like the way that Dogfish operates, putting out a solid core group of relatively normal beers (relatively when you compare to their other beers) and putting out a bunch of one-offs or experimental seasonals.

Today, I am covering Robert Johnson's Hellhound on my Ale, one of the two beers in Dogfish's Music series (the other is Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, which is awesome). The experimentation version of this is somewhat tame by Dogfish's standards. It is pretty much an American Imperial IPA that is brewed with lemons. 

Now would be a good time for me to introduce my warning about Dogfish Head beers: Always read the label or ask someone knowledgeable about the taste. This is mostly to give the beer a fair chance. I do the same thing with other experimental breweries, like Allagash. If you just hop right into the beer without anticipating the flavors, you may be surprised. Some of the flavors can be a little "off-centered", to use Dogfish's own motto, so you may be off put. Keep drinking, they add the ingredients for a reason. Unless you have an undying love for Dogfish, or you are just really accustomed to experimental beers, it is going to take you a few sips to begin to understand the beer.

Hellhound on my Ale is decidedly not in this category. It is a 10% ABV Imperial IPA that has been brewed with lemons and that is exactly what it tastes like. It is very hoppy, and the hops are accentuated by the lemon peel that is added to the brew. How could lemon accent hops you ask? Well they both have citrusy notes, so the lemon and the hops kind of work together. It is oddly refreshing for an imperial IPA and definitely worth a try, especially for all of you hop heads. It is a change of pace, but a good one. 

Effectively, if you are feeling adventurous at all, go for a Dogfish Head beer. Many beverage stores will have plenty on the shelf. My local beer store has no fewer than 8 different Dogfish's at one time. In fact, last week they had the 75 minute IPA, which I previously thought was only available in the brewhouse. When you do drink your DfH, take your time. They are pretty much all sippers and will be different from what you are used to. You may not like them all, but I can all but guarantee you that you will find a few that you really enjoy. 

At the very least, you should appreciate everything that Dogfish Head has done for craft brewing in America. Sam Calagione, the owner and founder, has done everything imaginable to promote craft beer. He has written a homebrew book (as well as a few other books on beer) and even started up a tv series called Brewmasters. Dogfish puts out some of the most unique beers in the US, if not the world. Give them a try and see what you think!

Glassware: Tulip, Snifter

Synonym Beer: Although they are different style, it is similar to a lemony Nugget Nectar (Troegs)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Avril and the Concept of Sessions

I have already made my love for the beers made by Brasserie Dupont very clear. I am going to continue praising their work with the description of their "Table Beer", Avril. Let me start off by saying that is a fantastic beer for so many different reasons. What are those reasons? Well, I will spread them out throughout the pictures below. 

First, I'll explain what is meant by the term "Table Beer". A table beer is another term for a beer that you could drink a ton of, without actually getting inebriated. More commonly, they are known as "Session Beers". There are a lot of session beers in the UK, most characterized by very low alcohol content and a mild flavor. 

The idea with session beers is that you could go to a pub with a bunch of your friends and have a "session" where everybody buys a round. Now, if you, like me, have like 5 friends, then you would probably not be able to drive home, unless you were really pacing yourself. This is where session beers shine. The low alcohol content lets you drink a bunch without getting drunk. It is a way to socially drink without overdoing the alcohol. 

Avril is a Belgian version of a session beer. It sits at 3.5% ABV, which is less than even the lightest of American Light Lagers. It is effectively a lighter version of Dupont's flagship beer, their Saison. Each glass is a bunch of thirst quenching goodness. Normally, you would be thinking that it might be too watery or not strong enough for you to take the time, but I implore you (yeah, that's right, implore) to try it. 

It is full of flavor, but is overwhelmingly refreshing. It's one of those beers that I have to constantly remind myself to drink slower so that I can fully appreciate the flavor. It doesn't really ever work. Obviously, it isn't the beer to drink if you are trying to get yourself drunk. Also, don't drink it and expect an incredibly complex beer. It is a table beer, so it is supposed to be light and thirst quenching. Since Spring is rapidly approaching, take a shot at Avril. As is the case with most of my posts, if you try it and don't like it, I will gladly take the remainder of the bottle off of your hands. 

Sessions are a kind of mature, social, and responsible way to drink. Obviously you need to know your limits, but when you deal with very low alcohol content beer, you are able to enjoy more of it as you hang out with your friend. Then, you can drive home, because no one likes to crash on a friend's floor.  

Avril, in my opinion could be consumed year round and whenever you feel thirsty. At the very least, it is a interesting change of pace from other craft beers, which are usually in the higher range of ABV. Just something to think about. Don't turn your nose up at a beer because it has a low alcohol content. Every beer has it's place,but Avril can occupy most situations. 

Glassware: Saison Glass, Tulip Glass

Synonym Beer: Saison Dupont (It is effectively a lighter version of Saison Dupont)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Red

Short one today, mostly because on Friday, especially the Friday before St. Patrick's Day, you probably want to do less reading and more drinking. I'll just leave you with another classic option for tomorrow, Smithwick's, an Irish Red Ale.

Smithwick's (pronounced Smid-icks) holds the distinction (according to them) of being the oldest Ale from Ireland (opened in early 1700s).  Like most Irish beers, it is pretty light in alcohol (4.5% ABV), but has a good malt backbone. What is funny, is that the Smithwick's that you can get in US is actually stronger than abroad (abroad is 3.8% ABV).

In terms of flavor, the beer is creamy and smooth, very similar to an English Bitter. It is malty, but has good bitterness, making it a very balanced beer. The hops are not overt, so you probably won't like it if you are a hophead. Part of what the Irish enjoy about Red Ales, like Smithwick's is that they go down easy. This makes it a pretty good beer for St. Patrick's Day. 

It is by no means my go-to beer, but I do enjoy a Smithwick's from time to time. If you haven't tried one before, give it a shot, especially if you are generally happy with mild, easy-drinking beers.

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Irish Whiskey

Looking for a classier way to drink on St. Patrick's Day? Sip, don't shoot, Irish Whiskey.

I will admit up front: I am not very familiar with Irish Whiskey. This is not for any particular reason other than concern that picking up another drink would cause additional damage to my liver. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to pick up a bottle and try it out to see what's up. 

Before even trying the whiskey, I did a bit of research to get my bearings. First of all, there are a lot of similarities between Irish and Scottish Whiskey. There are less regulation on what can be called Irish Whisky. I have laid out the requirements below.

Whiskey must be distilled and aged within Ireland or Northern Ireland.
The spirits must be distilled to 94.8% AVB from a yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains.
Must be aged for at least 3 years in wooden casks. 
If the spirit is a blend of at least 2 distillates, then it is referred to as "blended whiskey"

If you are familiar with the regulations on Scotch Whisky, these are a little more relaxed. 

I went with a Jameson 12 year at the suggestion of the guy at the liquor store. It is reasonably priced, and I wanted to go with something other than basic Jameson. Personally, I like higher quality scotch and the most well known whisky is "eh" to me. I wanted to give Irish Whiskey its fair shake, so I went with a level above the norm. 

First of all, like most whiskies, it looks virtually indistinguishable from other whisk(e)y varieties in the glass. It is a beautiful pale amber color, which is really common in the whiskey world. The nose could almost be a Speyside whisky(I love Speysides), although there are some distinct differences. First of all, no peat is detected at all. The nose is sweet and a little boozy with a distinct grainy scent. I'm sure that I would have some difficulty picking it out by nose alone if I were doing a blind taste, but I am sure I will improve with time. For now, I do know that it smells delicious. 

The taste is smooth and sweet with very little burn (if any). This surprised me, as my previous experiences with Irish Whiskey were generally much harsher. Granted, this is mostly because this is a better whiskey. I taste a little of some sort of smoke upfront and quickly, but that slowly mellows as it sits on your tongue.  It has strong vanilla flavors and a creamy mouthfeel, both of which are partially a result of the sherry casks used to age the whiskey. This is something you might want to look at before you buy a whiskey. The cask that ages the whiskey will have a huge effect on the resulting whiskey.
Try a few and figure out what you like.

Overall, I was very impressed with Jameson 12 year. Easy to drink, yet full of complex flavor. Not only does it give a good name to Irish Whiskey, but also to blended whiskies. I consider myself more of a single malt fan, but between this and the Johnny Walker Double Black, I am certainly warming to the idea of blended whiskey. If you like Irish Whiskey (or even if you aren't familiar) I would give the Jameson 12 year a shot. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think. 

Common Misconceptions:
Irish Whiskey must be distilled 3 times, whereas Scotch Whisky is distilled twice. 
Actually, these are more of common trends than regulations. You can find triple distilled scotch and double distilled Irish Whiskey. 

Peated malt is not used in Irish Whiskey. 
This is, again, a trend, not a rule. Irish Whiskey can use peated malt, though most do not.  

Personal Hint: Drink whiskey (that you are trying to taste) in very small sips. This will let you get the full flavor without the burn. Take a big sip and you can guarantee a hell of a lot of burn.

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Guinness (and its Other Uses)

Thus begins the Of Monks and Malts Irish Week!

What is the quintessential Irish stout?

If you are well versed in your beer, you might say Beamish or Murphy's, but Guinness is by far the most well known Irish stout. 

Let me lead off with one of my biggest beer pet peeves:
Guinness is NOT a meal in a glass. Not by a longshot. Drink an imperial stout, then a Guinness and you will think you are drinking water. If you don't believe me, try it (although if you DO think that Guinness is a meal in a glass, good luck getting through an imperial stout).

Guinness has a smooth mouthfeel, usually described as velvety, which is actually a pretty accurate description. It is a really light-bodied beer that goes down easy. This is why Guinness can be used in "Irish Car Bombs". If you haven't had an Irish Car Bomb, I would suggest it. The recipe is as follows:

3/4 Pint of Guinness
1 shot Bailey's

Drop the shot into the pint and chug (if you don't chug, you will wind up sipping your way through curds of the Bailey's). Simple as that. Another variation of the recipe calls for 1/2 shot of Bailey's and 1/2 shot of Jameson, but the above recipe is what I have always done. It tastes like chocolate milk. Trust me, it should be on your St. Patrick's Day To-Do list. I also recently did one where a bit of Whitetail Whiskey was used. This made it taste like caramel. Just something to think about. 

Warning: I am about 95% sure that this is only an American thing. If you are in a foreign country and you want an Irish Car Bomb, do the easy thing and ask for a pint of Guinness and a shot of Bailey's (then drink half of your beer before doing the bomb). 

Guinness is also one of the main ingredients in Black and Tans, as well as Half and Halfs. A black and tan is 1/2 pint Guinness mixed with 1/2 pint English pale ale (usually Bass). A half and half is 1/2 pint Guinness mixed with 1/2 pint lager (generally Harp). The mixing of the two gives a cool gradient of darkness within the beer. It also maintains the smooth taste of the Guinness and makes the beer somehow even a little more light bodied. Order one if you are interested, they look cool too! If the bar is crowded, I wouldn't suggest it though. It is a little more time consuming than a standard draft beer.

Half and Half

What does it say to you about at beer if it is so frequently mixed with other things? I'm not saying it's a bad beer, its just not nearly as complex as people seem to think. All I know is that there is no way I would ever mix my favorite beers with anything. It is just a smooth and drinkable beer. Great for large quantities. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Green's Dubbel

I have already gone over the fact that Gluten Free beer exists and whatnot. As you may have already read, I was underwhelmed by Green's Tripel. However, I had already purchased the Dubbel as well, so I drank that one too, hoping for the best. 

The beer pours really dark and the head retains a bit of the brown color. This combined with the texture of the head made it look like it was a giant toasted marshmallow. The flavor was a little boozy, showing off the 7% ABV. I was a little disappointed by this. Most good dubbels hide the alcohol well. The taste was a little fruity (from the yeast) and really malty, both traits of dubbels. All in all, it was ok. Not great, but a good option if you can't have gluten. It was much better than the Tripel, though.

Fun Fact: Monks in Belgium used to fast for the entirety of lent, but they drank Dubbels to get their nutrients. German monks used to do the same thing, but with Doppelbocks.

Glassware: Chalice, Tulip

Synonym Beer: Ovila Dubbel (Sierra Nevada)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Barrel Aging!

Behold: My 7th anniversary present from Lindsey!

Yup, that is a 6.9 gallon barrel that was originally used by Tuthilltown Spirits to age their Manhattan Rye Whiskey. The beauty of barrels like this is that they hold on to the flavor of the whiskey that they age. Then, when the barrels are used to hold beer, the flavors are imparted on the beer. Barrels are like the giving tree of the alcohol world. 

A couple things you should know about aging beer in barrels:
1) You can age in a new barrel or a used barrel. They will impart different flavors, so choose the barrel based on the flavors you want.
2) Age a style that can stand up to the barrel flavors. Unless you want to make a completely oak flavored beer, make sure to choose a flavorful beer that will be complemented by the oak. This is why the most common aged beers are Imperial Stouts or Imperial IPAs. Select breweries age lighter beers (Allagash, Innis & Gunn), but keep in mind that they actually know what their doing. I decided to rye barrel-age my Belgian Dubbel. 

The first step to aging your beer is to brew it, obviously. Once the beer is fully finished fermenting, you can transfer it into the barrel for aging. There are a lot of opinions about how to sanitize the barrel. Some say to fill the barrel with boiling water. Others say to use a high proof liquor. Still others say that you don't need to, as the whiskey in the wood keeps it sanitized. I played it safe and used the boiling water.

As the beer sits in the barrel, it will gradually pick up the flavors in the wood. The aging time really depends on the size of the barrel, the desired amount of flavor, and what kind of barrel it is. The best method is to occasionally taste the beer while it is aging and decide for yourself when enough is enough. I decided to let my beer age for 2 weeks. I did some tasting as I went and the beer certainly has a strong rye flavor. It's a good thing that I like rye.

When it was done, I bottled it up. For kicks, I put wax tops on my beer bottles. My home brew store sells wax beads (more often used for wine). Rather than basically ruin a saucepan, I used a cleaned vegetable can to hold the wax. It worked out really well. Here is what you need to do:

1) Clean and remove the label from a tin can. 
2) Start boiling water in a saucepan.
3) Add as many of the wax beads as you want to the can. 
4) Put the can in the water, pouring out water until the can doesn't float. 
5) Use pliers to hold the can as you stir the wax. 
6) Dip a bottle in the wax as deep as you desire. Let the wax dry however you want. Try a few ways and see what looks best. 
7) Repeat, adding more wax beads when the level gets too low. 

Note: You can recover any of the remaining wax in the can after it cools. 

Lastly, make sure you rinse and sanitize the barrel after you bottle so that you can use it again.

If you are looking to do either of these things, you can send me an email. I'm no expert, but I have a little incite now, having already gone through the process. Google is also a good resource (as it is for everything).

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.