Barrel-aged beer has almost become synonymous with whiskey barrels. And by whiskey I mean bourbon specifically. Sure wine barrels get the privelage of aging most sour beers and more and more brewers are playing around with different spirit barrels as craft distilling arises. But still the vast majority of barrel-aged beers are aged in whiskey barrels and the vast majority of those barrels are bourbon. Scotch barrels, on the other hand, are very rarely found.
Perhaps it’s the difficulty of getting the barrels over here from Scotland. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the barrels used to are Scotch are second use barrels to begin with and are then typically used at least another ten years, stripping much of the barrel character. But far more likely is that the smoky, peaty notes from the Scotch make them a difficult match with most styles.
Boulevard has not been afraid to experiment. Inspired by its popular Rye-on-Rye, Boulevard upped the ante with Scotch on Scotch. The brewery conjured up a Scotch ale, the perfect malty companion for the spirit, and then aged it on Scotch barrel oak chips. The result is a diluted version of your nightly dram.
The nose is rich and malt forward, with a pleasant hint of smoke. It smells nearly like a lightly peated single malt. A sip reveals vanilla and barley. A touch of smoked malt plays perfectly with the peat addition from the barrel and rounds out the tipple. This is how most people envision a Scotch ale, like a diluted version of the spirit. It’s a sign that calling a beer barrel-aged is going to require a little more explanation in the future.