Barrel-Aged Stouts

Five Barrel-Aged Stouts That Are Worth The Price And Aren’t Impossible To Find

Barrel-aged stouts are delicious. The combination of deep roasted flavors with the whiskey or bourbon makes these beers complex and in high demand.

High demand means the most popular versions are often hard to get and very expensive. People gladly camp out in long lines for hours then pay top dollar to obtain barrel-aged stouts. Some breweries have even moved to releasing their coveted barrel-aged stouts at festivals. For example, Three Floyd’s Dark Lord Day is a huge annual event where they release their Dark Lord Imperial Stout including barrel-aged variations. Prices on barrel-aged stouts can range but many are in excess of $1 per ounce of this amazing liquid.

If you have been drinking craft beer for a while, there is a good chance that you’ve done some crazy things to get some of the best barrel-aged stouts out there. And I bet you paid a hefty price as well.

If you are new to craft beer then you are probably interested in barrel-aged stouts but wonder if it’s really worth the time and cost to get to try these beers.

Here is a list of five barrel-aged stouts that won’t break the bank and aren’t impossible to find (if you know what to do).

Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS)

Brewery: Founders Brewing – Grand Rapids, Michigan

ABV: 12.4%    IBU: 70

Founders KBSDescription: An imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year.

My Thoughts: To me this is one of the best barrel-aged beers that you can get; I will still gladly pay $25 for a four pack of this beer once a year. Yes, it is only released once per year. In Cincinnati and the rest of the nation, that is in early April but in Michigan they can get it about a month earlier than the rest of us.

KBS packs huge notes of coffee, chocolate and bourbon. It can handle aging as well which many will do. But be aware, the coffee aroma and flavor tend to fade within the first year.

Price: $6 / 12oz bottle or $20 / 25oz bottle

Untappd Rating: 4.52 / 5

RateBeer Score: Overall 100 / Style 100

Beer Advocate Score: 100

Related Post: Three Questions To Ask Before Aging Craft Beer

Sunday Morning Stout (SMS)

Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing – Easton, Pennsylvania

ABV: 11.3%    IBU: N/A

Weyerbacher SMSDescription: Sunday Morning Stout, 11.3% ABV, is an American Imperial Stout aged in a bourbon barrels with coffee. It has a an ebony pour with a large, creamy, off-white head. The aromas of roasted coffee and bourbon awaken your senses while their flavors blend with hints of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and caramel.

My Thoughts: Often referred to as the “KBS Killer”, SMS has made a name for itself. I tend to find that it is very “hot” which means there is a significant amount of alcohol in the flavor. Much of this is caused by the barrel-aging process as well as the high ABV. The bold bourbon in this one makes it stand out and get noticed.

Price: $4 / 12oz bottle

Untappd Rating: 4.19 / 5

RateBeer Score: Overall 99 / Style 89

Beer Advocate Score: 96


Black Note Stout

Brewery: Bell’s Brewery – Galesburg, Michigan

ABV: 11.5%    IBU: N/A

Bell's Black Note StoutDescription: One of the most sought-after stouts in Bell’s history, Black Note Stout blends the complex aromatics of Expedition Stout with the velvety smooth texture of Double Cream Stout and ages the combination in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels for months. The resulting harmony of flavors captures the finest features of all three components: malty notes of dark chocolate, espresso & dried fruits, all buoyed by the warmth and fragrance of the bourbon barrel. Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.

My Thoughts: Depth of flavor and balance is what makes this stand out among other barrel-aged stouts. You truly taste the dark chocolate and bourbon blended together with subtle dried fruit sweetness. This is really unique and I do not find that in most barrel-aged stouts. Bell’s does a great job making stouts and this one is worth spending time drinking very slowly to appreciate the complexity it offers.

Price: $6 / 12oz bottle

Untappd Rating: 4.5 / 5

RateBeer Score: Overall 100 / Style 100

Beer Advocate Score: 99

Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy

Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery – Longmont, Colorado

ABV: 12.9%    IBU: 75

Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten FidyDescription: Aged through four seasons and from a blend of the top Bourbons around, this Ten Fidy has morphed into a monster of cranked up flavor. Espresso, burnt sugar, rich chocolate, caramel notes are now driving alongside the vanilla, oak, bourbon from the barrel and been smoothed out during maturation. Even at 12.9% (75 IBUs) it is cool and drinkable, letting each sip add more and more complexity.

My Thoughts: A total smack in the face is the only way to describe it. You taste every bit of the 12.9% ABV as it does not hide any of it. The bourbon flavors are strong and lay on top of the amazing stout flavors that Ten Fidy offers. While it is quite harsh; I appreciate the unapologetic way that it delivers a wide variety of flavors. And you have to love the 19.2 oz “stovepipe” can that it comes in.

Price: $12 / 19.2oz can

Untappd Rating: 4.44 / 5

RateBeer Score: Overall 100 / Style 99

Beer Advocate Score: 99


Related Post: The Best Craft Beer – January 2017

Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS)

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Company– Chicago, Illinois

ABV: 15%    IBU: 60

Goose Island BCBSDescription: Originally brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.

My Thoughts: Many refer to BCBS as the original barrel-aged stout. This beer led the way for this style of beer and continues to set the bar very high for everyone else. I find it to be a very heavy, think craft beer that lingers. I get the feeling they age this stout longer than many other barrel-aged beers because the flavors are blended on a deeper level. The bourbon barrel characteristics are now part of the stout flavors. It makes for a very enjoyable drinking experience and a celebration of this style.

Price: $13 / 16.9oz bottle

Untappd Rating: 4.44 / 5

RateBeer Score: Overall 100 / Style 100

Beer Advocate Score: 100

Pricing And How To Find These Barrel-Aged Stouts

As you can see, there are some great barrel-aged stouts available. And the prices aren’t so high that you will go into debt getting them. It is worth noting that the prices will vary by area and even store but this should give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay.

Many other barrel-aged stouts will be around $1 per ounce but some can exceed $2 per ounce – which is a little much in my book. But once you get hooked on barrel-aged stouts, the amount you are willing to pay for them will probably increase.

As for attaining these stouts, that part isn’t too difficult if you understand how the breweries release them.  Most breweries release their barrel-aged stouts once per year. That means you have to know when to strike and act quickly. Many will do a brewery release but each of the beers listed above are distributed. So if that brewery distributes in your area then you have a shot at it.

Founders Brewins releases KBS in Michigan in March and then the rest of the nation in April. BCBS is released on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). So skip Target and head to your local craft beer store to get this one.

In the end, find out the release date then go talk to the craft beer shop and let them know you are interested in getting some. Most are very willing to let you know how they will be selling it and if you buy from them on a regular basis, they may just hold some for you.

If you are new to this style, make sure you get out and at least try a few. Just like any beer, there are some that are better than others but the five listed above are a great place to start.

What are your favorite barrel-aged stouts?

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