Beer Me: Anderson Valley Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Stout

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Editor’s Note: This “Beer Me” column first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #182, published in February 2015. Words and photo by Alastair Bland.


When it comes to aging a special beer in a used booze barrel, most brewers follow a rather standard formula: They put a dark beer containing at least 10 percent alcohol by volume into a whiskey or brandy barrel and let it soak up the liquor flavor for six months or more. But Anderson Valley has taken a different approach. The Northern California brewery’s Bourbon Barrel Stout begins with a lightweight oatmeal stout and, at the end of the barrel treatment, measures just 6.9 percent alcohol. The desired flavors—vanilla, caramel, butter and chocolate—are forefront, but the expected slug of alcohol never follows. It’s like a session rendition of the booze-barrel stout—low in alcohol and easy to drink for more than a single glass. The price, though, may be a significant deterrent— about $10 for a 22-ounce bottle.

ABV: 6.9 percent. IBU: 14