Pfriem Family Brewers has quickly created one of the best barrel-aging programs in the Northwest. With a combination of Belgian-Style sours, kettle sours, and standard barrel-aging, this past year has seen one fantastic barrel-aged release after another. Even when it’s liquor barrel release, Pfriem finds new options and unique ways to go about it. Sure they released a Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, its second time being released, but this year they also released an Imperial Brown aged in Scotch barrels and a Cognac Barrel-Aged Belgian-Style Strong Dark Ale.
Cognac is the great brandy of western France. Made from white wine that’s made especially for the purpose, it’s then distilled and aged in casks made of French oak. Typically, Cognac barrel aged beers are among my favorite. They provide a unique character that’s less aggressive than Bourbon barrels and works with a wide variety of beers to create a tasty treat at the end of its time in wood. Pfriem’s Cognac Barrel-Aged Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale belongs in those ranks.
Belgian-style Dark Ale is a staple of Pfriem’s Belgian-style portfolio. In bottle, it’s properly carbonated through a traditional process that would be at home in any Belgian brewery. With a proper dose of yeast & priming sugar, the bottles go into a warm room for a few weeks of well controlled secondary fermentation. Rich, malty, and spicy; it’s the perfect companion for some time in Cognac barrels.
Appearance: Dark brown, brown head, good retention.
Aroma: Caramel, spicy, boozy, chocolate, mocha, cinnamon, dark fruit notes.
Taste: Cognac, toffee, nutty, leather, dark fruit, spicy.
Overall Impression: It’s rich. It’s spicy. It’s got a well-integrated dose of booziness. It’s a winner of a barrel-aged beer. If you’re looking for something barrel-aged, but aren’t feeling up to something as brash as a Bourbon barrel, Cognac barrels are the way to go and Pfriem’s use is masterly. If you can find this one, just get out your wallet.
Availability: VERY limited. Jump on it while you can.