The 5 Best NZ Barrel Aged Beers

Good things come to those who wait. One brewery had a monopoly on that idea for quite some time but now more interesting things are on the horizon for those willing to wait. Barrel-aged beers! They are the perfect answer to the brew it fast, stack’em high and sell’em cheap mentality of some in the beer industry.

Barrel aged beers are any beer that has been aged in contact with wood. They can be any style, in any barrel and for varying lengths of time. Some countries have taken to this process well with one of the world’s most sought after beers being Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island which was the pioneer of its day in barrel aging.

Now though many brewers are taking on the challenge. And no more so is that true than for one Kiwi brewery in particular, 8 Wired Brewing Co. They are thought to have the largest collection of barrel aged beers in NZ and have taken to it like a duck to water.

They have pressed forward with such an eclectic mix of styles and barrels that it can be hard to keep up. We have picked 5 of their barrel aged beers that have made the journey to the UK.

Gypsy Funk – 7.5%

This is a super funky brew! Aged for two years in wine barrels followed up by a heavy dose of dry hopping with the distinct flavours of NZ hops. Face screwing-ly sour, backed up with resinous flavours from the hops all ending in a serious funkiness. Not for the faint hearted but definitely for those looking for their next sour hit!

Batch 2.18 – 11%

Airing towards the more traditional idea of aging beers in that this is a stout but that’s about as far as the usual goes. Fermented in open oak vats with dates, jaggery and vanilla beans, this is an impressive stout and one that truly does justice to it’s commemoration of 8 Wired’s 18th batch at their new brewery in Warkworth, New Zealand.

Chardonnay Barrel aged Saeson – 7.0%

8 Wired aimed to reimagine what old world ales would have tasted like with a new world hop twist and this is what they came up with. Aged in chardonnay barrels with added brettanomyces for a year and then dry hopped with NZ hops (think there might be a theme appearing here? Well they are the best in the world!) This beer is well balance with a really nice depth to it with distinct yet subtle tartness that allows for other dry and floral flavours to come through.

Feijoa Sour – 6.7%

New Zealand’s other national fruit, Feijoas are used in large quantities to create this sour monster. 800kg to be exact! This beer starts its life as a pale ale before being aged in Pinot Noir barrels and soured with lactobacillus before the additions of the fruit. This beer pushes the boundaries of what beer is but ultimately it is tart, sharp and refreshingly moreish.

Grand Cru – 9%

It started out life as 8 Wired’s The Sultan, a Belgian quad. They filled 8 Pinot Noir barrels with it and basically forgot about it. The native bacteria in the barrels continued to ferment the beer giving it its first sour hints and then to really amp up the funkiness it was blended with a type of ‘Flanders Red kinda thing’. The result is a NZ version of a classic Belgian style! Basically what 8 Wired do best!

Want to decide for yourself? You can get these beers and more from the NZ collective breweries online at Honest Brew or Beer Hawk.

Interested in stocking some barrel aged beers then get in touch to find out what has newly arrived from NZ.