Oak-Aged Beers

Oak-Aged Beers

Oak aging isn’t just for wine. Brewers also use this wood-aging technique to give their beers smoothness and a unique flavour profile.

In the early days of beer-making, before stainless steel tanks were available, brewers aged their creations in oak barrels, casks and tanks. In a return to that tradition, some North American brewers now use oak barrels that once held spirits or wines to smooth out the ethanol notes in their beers, and impart layers of captivating flavours such as vanilla, berry, toffee and light smoke. In the last 20 years, barrel-aging, and the more budget-friendly method of maturing beer on toasted oak chips, have become popular for crafting stouts and porters, and brewers finish a variety of beer styles in different types of oak barrels originally used for wine, cognac, rum or tequila —introducing complementary flavours and a silky body to every finished brew.

Beer aged in tequila or gin barrels delivers juniper, herbal or citrus notes. Wine barrel aging lends flavours of oak, berry or stone fruit, while aging in bourbon or rum barrels creates notes of coconut, smoke, vanilla, oak, clove, cinnamon, butterscotch, caramel and toffee.

Rich, dark barrel-aged beers pair well with blue cheese, walnuts, steak or dark chocolate desserts. Match golden brews with cheeses, creamy pasta or roast chicken.


Pull higher-proof oak-aged beers out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving in snifters. Sip lower-alcohol beers in tulip glasses, five minutes out of the fridge.

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