New Belgium Brewing and Knob Creek Bourbon have collaborated on the launch of Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale.
This 9%-ABV beer used Knob Creek bourbon-soaked oak spirals and barrel char to impart flavor into New Belgium’s high-rye base ale.
“We could have simply barrel-aged some ale, or rested beer on barrel staves, but that wouldn’t have given us the amazing freshness and flavor of Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale,” says Ross Koenigs, research and development brewer at New Belgium.
New Belgium’s engineers created a steel, missile-shaped vessel to provide a delivery system in which Knob Creek Bourbon-soaked oak spirals and char from used Knob Creek Bourbon barrels mingled with New Belgium’s high-rye ale. This three-part flavor extraction process first included the harvesting of barrel char – the caramelized wood sugars that contribute sweet brown sugar and caramel notes to the beer – from used Knob Creek barrels. Rounding out the bourbon character in the beer are Knob Creek bourbon-soaked oak spirals, which were toasted and added to infuse secondary flavors of oak and spice into the liquid. Finally, the bourbon-soaked spirals and barrel char were added to the steel vessel to influence the beer as it matured.
The result is a full-flavored amber bourbon ale with notes of caramel, vanilla and toasted oak, the companies report.
Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale has 20 IBUs. The hops are Nugget and HBC 472, while the malts are Pale, Munich, Caramel 80, Rye, and Roasted Barley. It’s available nationwide in both 12-oz. bottles and on draft.