When Worlds Collide: Trends around Bourbon Barrel-Aged Beers
Craft beers have always been about breaking away from traditional commercial beer trends and focusing on creative, delicious, and innovative brews. Thanks to this, the craft beer industry is booming and doesn't show signs of slowing any time soon. As the business matures, you'll find that new trends will start popping up within the craft beer industry itself. While many of us still prefer to stick to our favorite IPA, there are several new trends that promise to bring exciting changes to the world of craft beer in 2019 and beyond.
Current Craft Brewing Trends
New England IPAs may soon be dethroned
NEIPAs are some of the most ubiquitous beers on the current market. They're known for their extreme juiciness and hazy appearance, but the consensus appears to be that the style has been pushed as far as it can go. That's why many brewers are re-examining the West Coast IPA and returning to its notable qualities, namely clarity, head retention, and bitterness.
CBD is the new beer additive
With the legalization of cannabis, there's been a huge proliferation of CBD-infused products, from coffees to edibles and even dog treats. Unsurprisingly, beers are following this trend, which is why more and more CBD-infused beers are appearing nationwide. Is there truly any benefit to adding CBD to beer? It's uncertain, though some proponents say CBD-infused beers don't cause hangovers, which sounds a bit too good to be true. However, it might be a good idea to try some and see if the claims bear out.
Bourbon barrel-aged beer is here
Many breweries are taking an experimental approach in order to stand out in what's starting to become a very saturated market. Barrel-aged beers take advantage of the fact that some beers can benefit from the flavors of oak casks, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the brew. It's a complicated process, as some beers don't mesh with certain casks, but when it works, it's delicious. Keep an eye out for bourbon barrel-aged beers in your area.
Beer calories are dropping
Health and wellness is big business and smart breweries are taking advantage of this trend by releasing low-calorie beers. These not only target health-conscious calorie counters, but they are also lower in alcohol content, perfect for those of us who can't drink like we're 21 anymore but are still looking for tasty craft beers.
What Makes a Barrel-Aged Beer Different?
Barrel-aged beers are stored in barrels that have been used to age various spirits. During its time in the barrel, the beer will absorb chemical compounds in the wood, which translate into tones of vanilla, caramel, and even floral aromas and flavors. The longer the beer is kept in the cask, the more complex the flavor and aroma it absorbs.
An important aspect of the barrel-aging process is that the beer tends to absorb everything from the barrel, so the barrel can't be reused after the process is completed. This means that barrel-aged beer is a one-time-only type of product. That's why barrel-aged beers are typically sold as high-end, limited-edition beers, which can highly increase their desirability.
Barrel-aging can impart a wide array of flavors to beer, mainly strong flavors of caramel and vanilla. However, expert brewers can also extract other flavors from barrels, including plum, sugar, and even chocolate. This process is perfect for beer experts who are trying to push the boundaries of the beverage instead of being content to stick to their local IPA.
Barrel-aging requires brewers to have a deep understanding of their own beer and the properties of the barrels they're using. The process is complicated, and some beers tend to age poorly in barrels, so it's vital the brewer is at the top of their game. Brewers view the production of barrel-aged beer as a new challenge and a way to showcase their particular style. This makes barrel-brewed beer exciting for customers who have become bored with traditional trends in craft beer.
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