In the world of barrel-aged beers New Belgium’s Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale is its own thing. It’s a pioneering, and highly distinctive beer brewed using a custom-built, proprietary infusion method which pulls flavors from bourbon-steeped charred oak and marries it with a malty sweet, deep amber ale.
And it has an almost fanatical following…
First released by New Belgium in 2018, Oakspire quickly became a favorite among beer and bourbon lovers alike. This year the brewery once again collaborated with Four Roses Bourbon, known for their smooth, fruit forward and slightly spicy bourbons, using an innovative brewing process that represents the absolute best of both beverages.
So how exactly are those signature flavors extracted?
It’s not easy…
Over the course of a year, Four Roses collects charred oak chips from inside their bourbon barrels as they are emptied. These oak chips contain caramelized wood sugars, which add notes of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee, and add color to the whiskey while it ages.
Next, a barrel maker in Minnesota toasts a custom blend of oak spirals which are then soaked in Four Roses’ bourbon.
Meanwhile, New Belgium’s world-class brewing engineers construct a series of custom, stainless steel vessels to hold the charred oak and wood spirals.
New Belgium’s high-rye base ale then circulates through the vessels during maturation, infusing the flavor from the charred oak and bourbon-soaked spirals, resulting in a stunning, one-of-a-kind 9% ABV Bourbon Ale with a cult following.
Oakspire sold out so quickly in 2021 and New Belgium made an effort to ensure that that didn’t happen again.
“Demand was so high for this beer in 2021, we spent all year collecting every last bit of Four Roses char we could so that we’d have more Oakspire,” Jared Spagnola, Specialty Brand Manager at New Belgium, said.
“Four Roses and New Belgium make for great partners and New Belgium’s innovative approach brings the result of our individual crafts together perfectly,” said Four Roses Chief Operating Officer, Ryan Ashley. “Oakspire takes a different approach from the traditional bourbon barrel ale that brings the rich Four Roses flavor notes forward in quite a remarkable way.”
Definately a beer for bourbon lovers, Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale is available for purchase at select retailers across the country.
But it won’t be forever, so you know what to do.
(All image credits: New Belgium Brewing)