Despite the fact that they've only been around for a few years, Side Project Brewing has quickly become the makers of some of the most sought after bottles in the craft beer universe. Side Project Derivation Imperial Stout — the breweries series of barrel-aged imperial stouts — are a great example, each taking a big, bold imperial stout and aging them in bourbon or rye whiskey barrels. Each clocks in at 14% or more, and has their own signature quality to help them stand out. Six blends have been released already, and each recipe, barrel and time spent aging, and special additions vary. Each batch of Derivation is a well thought out, decadent treat that's perfect for sharing at your next special occasion.
Nearly twelve years since it was first brewed, Firestone Walker Bravo Imperial Brown Ale is finally being bottled for the first time. One of the driest beers in the Vintage Reserve series, it's also a crucial component in the annual blending of Firestone Walker's Anniversary Ale and helps balance out some of the sticky sweet components. Clocking in at 13.2%, Bravo is also the first beer in Firestone's barrel-aged line to move to a 12 ounce size from the previous 22 ounce standard. This gives drinkers a much more reasonable serving size and price point to commit to with beers that regularly top 10% ABV.
Barrel-aging continues to show up just about everywhere. But there are few that are as trusted with this trending task as Founders Brewing. Founders Frootwood Beer is the latest in their Barrel-Aged series, and might be the most ambitious yet. It starts with a crisp cherry ale, which is aged in oak barrels that once held bourbon and maple syrup. The time in wood really changes things, giving way to a more subtle cherry flavor along with notes of vanilla from the oak. Available this month in four-packs and 750ml bottles.
When the temperature dips to unbearable levels this winter, there's nothing like a big barleywine to help warm you up. Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine is one of the originals in this class, brewed for the first time back in 2002. Their new world take on a traditional English barleywine is fermented with dates and figs and lands at right around 15% ABV. It's back for its 15th anniversary this year, and makes for a delicious companion for extra warmth — or to lay down in a cool, dark place to be opened years later for an even smoother treat.