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17 Must-Try Beers for Whiskey Advocates


Boulevard Smokestack Series Whiskey Barrel Stout

Boulevard’s Smokestack Series offers complex, big and bold beers, and the Whiskey Barrel Stout certainly fits that bill. This bold variation provides robust dark malt flavors of espresso, chocolate and roast alongside dark malt-derived dark fruits (dates and plum). The barrels provide vanilla and whiskey character to round out the experience. According to Boulevard, the final product includes nearly a third of freshly brewed beer while the balance is aged in first- or second-use whiskey casks.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th Imperial Stout

Dark Horse says they brew this with a “top secret root.” While no such sorcery exists in bourbon, the time this beer spends in those barrels creates its own brand of magic. The bourbon barrel-aging here adds a leathery complexity along with smooth bourbon notes and light oak tannins. The beer pours opaque black and boasts a creamy tan head. Following this is heavy roast malt then light oak, Bourbon and chocolate notes. After an hour of contemplation, I still cannot pick out their top-secret root addition. But, if one does, will they tell you? Probably not. This beer is available every year in December, but only at Dark Horse’s 4 Elf Party.

Deschutes The Abyss

Deschutes releases this dense, deep barrel-aged Imperial Stout once a year to steep critical acclaim. The base Imperial Stout includes blackstrap molasses, licorice and cherry bark with added vanilla. After taking that grand brew and aging it 12 months in bourbon barrels, Deschutes have themselves an “abyss” of complexity. Notes from the various barrels it lives in (12 months in bourbon barrels and new Oregon Oak barrels) take on the molasses and licorice to create a thought-evoking experience.

Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel Bourbon

Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel has spent time on many people’s Top 50 Beers lists, and their bourbon-aged variety deserves similar praise. Soft vanilla, fresh oak and a peppery spice lent by the bourbon barrel add complexity to this opaque black Imperial Stout. It features huge coffee notes, roasted malt and dark fruity characteristics as it slowly warms in the glass.

Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

This beer is aged for at least 12 months in whiskey barrels, and at least once, Great Divide forgot about the beer and it ended up staying for nearly 20 months in the barrels – Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey barrels, that is. Huge dark fruits and complex, roasted chocolate malt support the oak and vanilla character imparted by the whiskey.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

According to Goose Island, this ever-popular whale was brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at the original Clybourn brewpub. Aged for 150 days in the barrels, this Imperial Stout has smoke flavors alongside the rich, roasted coffee malt character. The bourbon sweetness mixes nicely with the secondary rich malt caramel sweetness.