12 Barrel-Aged Oregon Beers for the Holidays


There are 12 Barrel-Aged Oregon Beers for the Holidays being released in bottles just this November and December alone as must-have beer cellar items for collectors, perfect for gifts or just to enjoy sipping by the fire on these cold nights. Oregon may be known for hoppy beer, but the area’s brewers also make some of the best barrel-aged beers in the world, from the common bourbon barrel-aged offerings to sour and wild ales aged in gin, Pinot, and Cabernet barrels. Here are the top 12 barrel-aged beers we hope to find under our tree this Christmas.

Deschutes 2014 The Dissident

Deschutes: The Dissident

Deschutes’s first wild/sour beer, The Dissident makes its return this year on Friday, December 12th. Aged in Pinot and Cabernet barrels for 18 months, this Flanders-style sour brown ale is brewed with fresh tart pie cherries from Oregon and is only released every other year; it’s one of the rarest beers Deschutes makes. Deschutes celebrates the release at its pubs in Bend and Portland on December 12th all day with samples, snifters, food specials, and bottles and swag for sale.

Bend The Dissident Release Celebration
Fri, Dec 12, 11 am – 11 pm
Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House
1044 NW Bond Street. Bend, Oregon 97701<

Portland The Dissident Release Celebration
Fri, Dec 12, 11 am – 11 pm
Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House<
210 NW 11th Ave. Portland, OR 97209

Breakside Brewing

Breakside Brewery: Country Blonde

A new very limited edition release in Breakside Brewery’s burgeoning wild/sour beer program in Milwaukie, Oregon, Country Blonde will only be available in 750ml bottles direct from the brewery only for $15 each starting this Friday, December 5th. I think this one is going to be a great cellar beer; it’s sure to get more sour and complex as the three strains of brettanomyces wild yeast eat away on the malts and sugars of Gewurztraminer grapes it was conditioned on.
BLB 2014

The Commons: Bourbon Little Brother

This limited edition annual release from Portland’s The Commons Brewery is pleasingly well-rounded, a rich but dry Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale that is well complemented with smooth and spicy notes of vanilla, chocolate, and spice from the barrels. This is a Belgian-style beer for American bourbon fans and is surprisingly easy drinking at 10% ABV with the smooth rounded and dry character you would expect from a true Belgian beer, though it’s made right here in Portland. It’s also one of the more affordable of these types of beers at $11.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Crux Tough Love Imperial Stout

Crux Fermentation Project: Tough Love Imperial Stout

Tough Love is a newer contender in the highly sought after barrel-aged Imperial Stout category from the original creator of The Abyss–Larry Sidor who now brews and co-owns Crux Fermentation Project in Bend. The 2014 [BANISHED] TOUGH LOVE Imperial Stout is constructed with dark roasted malts, malted rye, and oak-smoked wheat, and then banished in Kentucky bourbon barrels, revealing notes of vanilla beans and hints of dried cherries. TOUGH LOVE will be available for sale on draught and in bottles with a variety of other Crux beers at the Portland Release Party on Friday, December 5th 5-7pm at The Beermongers, 1125 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202.

De Garde Petit Desay

De Garde: Petit Desay

One of Oregon’s top up and coming brewers is located in Tillamook, and is producing some seriously buzz-worthy wild fermented and barrel-aged beers. While De Garde Brewing has been releasing bottles for a while, they were super limited and immediately sold out. The new larger bottling runs of Petit Desay and Bu Weisse may still go quickly, even though there are hundreds of cases available. Petit Desay is not a barrel-aged beer in the typical sense though, it’s actually one of the first batches from De Garde out of their Foeders (large tank size oak vessels) essentially these are just giant oak barrels though so I think they count. Petit Desay is a foeder fermented  farmhouse ale and is an incredibly quaffable at under 5% ABV. Although we are highlighting Petit Desay, you can also find bottles of “Bu Weisse,” De Garde’s foeder-fermented and -aged Berliner-Weisse. Both beers are available at Belmont Station and Tin Bucket in 22oz bottles now.
Fort George North 2-pack

Fort George: North 2-Pack

Technically these are two different direction-inspired beers that make a mini vertical from Astoria, Oregon’s Fort George Brewery. Packaged together, you get the 2013 Fort George North VII–an Imperial Belgian IPA aged in Wild Turkey Barrels–along with 2014 North VIII, an Imperial Stout. 2013’s North VII was brewed with a complex malt bill and a tremendous amount of hops. Fermented with a Belgian yeast for a touch of spice, this Imperial IPA was then steeped for just the right amount of time in the freshest Kentucky Bourbon barrels this side of the Rockies. The 2-Pack is now available for $15.98 at select bottle shops.

Gigantic Brewing: 2013 Bourbon Barrel-Aged MASSIVE! Barleywine

Portland’s Gigantic Brewing will be releasing both 2013 MASSIVE! Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine as well as this year’s MASSIVE! Barleywine at the Gigantic Taproom & Champagne Lounge on Saturday, December 6th.

MASSIVE! Barleywine always features one malt boiled for at least nine hours in the direct fire kettle. The boiling creates maillard reactions that caramelize the wort, resulting in toffee and caramelized sugar malt flavors and a ruby red color. The evaporation over the long boil increases the sugar content resulting in higher finished alcohol. The long boil is inspired by brewers in the Midlands of England who would boil their barleywine ales for longer times to intensify their flavours and colours.

2013 MASSIVE! Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine spent 20 months in barrels before being blended and bottled. The finished beer has a myriad depth of aroma and flavor with a rich malt and wood complexity–similar to a fine port. Made with Thomas Fawcett floor malted Halcyon Pale Ale Malt, which is considered to be one of the last remaining traditional English pale malts. Finished with Mt Hood and Willamette hops.  13.5% ABV.

Hopworks Kentucky Christmas Abominable

Hopworks Urban Brewery: Kentucky Christmas

One of our favorite annual winter ales has been Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery Abominable Ale, and over the last few years the brewery has introduced limited amounts of it on draft that were aged in bourbon barrels and tasted phenomenal. That bourbon barrel version of Abominable is called Kentucky Christmas, and Hopworks is bottling it this year for the very first time for a special release this month. Commercial description: Kentucky Christmas began its life as Abominable Winter Ale before being gently whisked away to a cavern deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, outside the reach of modern communications, it was laid to rest in freshly emptied Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon barrels where notes of vanilla and spice mixed with citrus and caramel.  One sip and you’ll be transported to a beautiful southern highway in the Bluegrass State. Plato 17 IBU 70 ABV 7.6%. Hopworks Kentucky Christmas will be released on December 15th 5pm at both HUB locations but more bottles available at the main SE Powell location for $15 a piece, it will also be available on tap then.

Laurelwood Santa's Woody 2014
Laurelwood Santa’s Woody Barrel Aged Barleywine

Portland brewpub staple Laurelwood Brewing Co. is releasing one of outgoing Brewmaster Vasilios Gletsos’s special projects in Santa’s Woody Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine, which debuted last year and will be available again this year in 1 liter swing top bottles for only $12.95. 2014 Santa’s Woody Barrel Aged Barleywine is coming out this December with a release party at Belmont Station on 12/10 from 5-8 pm. Both the Santa’s Woody 2013 version and 2014 version will be available to sample with a blend of the two on draft. 1 liter swing top bottles of both vintages will be for sale, too.

Pelican Mother of All Storms bottle

Pelican Brewery: Mother of All Storms

Mother of All Storms from Pelican Brewing Company in Pacific City, Oregon is a Barrel-Aged Barleywine consistently rated as one of the best beers in the world by review sites like Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. Based on Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, this English-style barleywine spends several months aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels before it’s bottled and kegged. Mother of All Storms delivers deep flavors of toasted malt, bourbon and oak. The finish rewards with whispers of vanilla, toffee, and caramel. It is best enjoyed during gusts exceeding 60mph, and the 14% ABV will help to retain warmth while waiting out the storm. 31.7 Plato and 40 IBUs. Mother of All Storms has already been released this year and you can find bottles in Oregon now, but you may have to do a little digging around.


Burnside Brewing: Whiteout Barleywine

Burnside Brewing Co. took its blonde Barleywine called White Out and ages it for a year in barrels before a limited edition bottle release coming later this month. Light colored but very strong at 10% ABV and 55 IBUs, White Out is brewed with Golden Promise, Crystal, and Honey malts, flaked oats, and Centennial and Meridian hops. Last year’s version (pictured) was aged in Port wine barrels, but this year’s release will have a new label and is aged in whiskey barrels. Follow Burnside’s facebook page for an announcement on the release date later this month.

Upright Fatali Four bottle

Upright Brewing: Fatali Four

A personal favorite of mine (though, full disclosure, I designed the beer label) Upright Brewing’s Fatali Four is one-of-a-kind. It pours very light blonde and very tart and sour with notes of gin botanicals, oak barrels, lemon and then does something unexpected with a fruity, citrusy heat from Fatali chili peppers warming up the back end. It’s never too spicy, but is noticeable and the lemony sourness really cuts and balances the heat so that neither one overtakes the other, really complimenting each other and dancing across your tongue. Fatali Four was just released in 750ml bottles and is available at the brewery and specialty bottleshops now.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com