Everything you need to know about barrel aged beer

Le b.a-ba sur les barrels aged

Here's everything you need to know about barrel aged beer. What does barrel aged actually mean? You have all these questions about these strong alcoholic beers, generally black in colour and often with wax on the top of the bottle, which are popping up more and more on the shelves of your favourite beer shop. Well today, we tell you everything we know about barrel aged beer. And we know a fair bit about it, because we make it at the WhiteFrontier brewery. You'll find some of them on our online shop.

Barrel Aged literally means "aged in barrels". When we talk about a beer being barrel aged, it means that it has been kept in a wooden barrel, often made of oak, which gives it many qualities that we'll go into here.

 Fût de Bourbon pour créer des bières barrel aged


A beer that thinks it's a whiskey.

The final step in the classic brewing process is known as the storage step. During this final but essential phase, the beer is kept in a stainless steel tank so that it freezes. The aromas,  alcohol level and carbonation rate will stabilise, making it possible to package a stable, consistent product that will very quickly be found on the shelves of beer shops or on tap in your favourite bars and restaurants. This stage lasts anywhere from several days to several weeks.


For barrel aged beer, the maturation process is different. The beer isn't stored in stainless steel tanks, but in wooden barrels previously used to store wine or spirits. Not all styles of beer lend themselves to this exercise. Black beer is ideal as it contains a higher rate of roasted malt, but some red fruit beers can also fare well in barrels.


So, why age a beer?

It's not the barrel or vat in itself that matters when it comes to the world of beer, but its history: what it contained before.

Barrels that have been used to make rum, bourbon or whiskey are most often used for barrel aged beers. But as you know, WhiteFrontier shares its premises with a winemaker, so we have a particular affection for wine—especially Valais wine. So it's not uncommon for beers to be aged in old wine barrels.

BBA - Brasserie WhiteFrontier

To give you an example, we'll describe 3 of our aged barrels.


Basically, this beer is a German Doppelbock brewed using a double decoction method for more authenticity. A doppelbock is a bottom-fermented beer with a dark colour that has aromas of dried fruit, caramel and bread. This beer was aged for 9 months in American bourbon barrels to impart sweet notes of honey, plum and fig to the traditional German lager. Ideal for a Sunday roast with family or friends.


BARREL AGED IMPERIAL STOUT - Collab' w/ Hoppy People

This majestic Imperial Stout is here to celebrate the joint anniversary of WhiteFrontier and Hoppy People. Built on a base of Imperial Stout, prolonged aging in barrels of Valais red wine has created complex aromas of wild berries and sweet vanilla, with a final note of coconut. Can you imagine yourself sitting on a comfortable sofa you don't want to get up from, sipping this powerful beer, maybe with a good cigar? (But shh, we didn't give you the idea).


BARREL AGED WHEAT WINE - Collab' w/ Uiltje

Two lots of jam-packed mash and an exploding barrel. Was it worth it? Yes, of course! COWL is a wheat wine, a rather rare style of beer which makes it completely unique. COWL is a strong wheat beer, which isn't common because historically, breweries weren't allowed to use a lot of wheat to brew: the precious cereal had to be reserved for bread. In our barrel aged wheat wine, you'll find notes of honey, vanilla and cherry from 20 months of refining in bourbon barrels.



A powerful beer, as the name suggests, with earthy notes from a fairly complex malt pairing, complemented by a very light bitterness and candied fruit sensation from the bourbon barrel. Every day is a lazy winter Sunday with this Wee Heavy.


A numbered Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Sweet, syrupy and slightly spicy aromas from barrels and rye malts. Clear notes of caramel and vanilla, with bourbon flavours.

Also available in a set with a glass + cigar

Biere Barrel Aged - Whitefrontier

The best way to be able to take in all the subtleties of barrel aged beer is to try them, of course. We have a selection pack of barrel aged beers containing a 330ml bottle of each beer described above. Treat yourself to a moment where time stops, with flavours so surprising they'll push you beyond your limits. This pack is also the perfect gift for epicureans who love a good spirit, and know how to appreciate these beers we cherish so much.

You can find all these delicious products in our online shop

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