By popular demand*, this class will cover a few barrel-aged brews I've had in recent times.
Beers are generally best drunk fresh. Unlike wine, most beers do not improve with age. As with wine however, there are exceptions. Barrel-aged beers tend to be brewed with some level of aging in mind. There is some history to this. Some barrel-aged beers weren't necessarily aged for the flavor the barrel imparts, but were brewed to survive long trips - for example, the many months required to sail from England to it's more distant colonies in the 1700's (think IPA's). The Belgians have been known for a few centuries to ferment red ales in oak casks before blending.
Barrel-aging is currently something of a fad at American micro- and craft-breweries. And it's resulted in some quite tasty brews. These beers tend to have higher than average alcohol contents - this helps the beer better age. Here are a few I've sampled:
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
If you're going to try a bourbon barrel aged beer it should be one from Kentucky. Why? 'Cos that's where you'll find the best bourbons. Kentucky Ale is described as being a cross between an Irish red ale and an English pale ale. That's not a bad description. It's more malty than hoppy. The Bourbon Barrel version has those characteristics plus a strong oaky bourbon flavor. I like bourbon and I like beer. I like this beer. If you don't like bourbon though, don't bother.
Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale
Stone makes good beer. Their Arrogant Bastard is a fine strong ale. The oaked version, which I believe is aged with oak chips rather than in a barrel, is also damned good. Malty and hoppy with oak undertones. I highly recommend this one.
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti
This is an oak aged imperial stout. Has the coffee-like flavor you'd expect for an imperial, plus a nutty wood flavor and maybe a little caramel. If you like stouts I highly recommend you try this one.
Jolly Pumpkin La Rojas
This one is from the what-the-hell-were-they-thinking department. Supposedly a sour amber ale. Brewed using a proprietary yeast and aged in oak. Tastes like really, really bad lemonade. Mixed with dust. Seriously.
It's a short list today. Let me know in the comments what barrel-aged beers you have a liking (or distaste) for.
Next up: Buggered if I know yet.
* Okay, only PlS asked for it. But it's as good a reason as any.