MOVIES & BOOZE: Festive Beer!

Mrs. Beer Messiah, Breda McGuinness joins Sean today for Movies and Booze

No Beer Messiah today I’m afraid!   Mrs. Messiah will have to do (!) but I’ll try to live up to the Big Man himself, and stick to the usual format.  Kind of.

To-day’s broadcast is from the KingsleyHotel in CorkCity – Kicking Christmas off with a bang!

In keeping with the Season that’s in it, today we are reviewing a really special beer that is the perfect partner for your Christmas Pudding on the Big Day.

Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon – 2012.

Barrel Aged Beer  

Since the time of the Bronze Age, barrels have been in common use for storing and aging beer.  Their widespread use was phased out however by the early 1950’s with the onset of stainless steel.  Stainless facilitated mass production of beer – easier to clean, and much easier to maintain.  Wooden barrels however impart their own character on liquid.  While stainless steel addressed many practical issues for breweries,  a certain amount of character was lost as production moved from wood to steel.

Thankfully with the onset of the Craft Beer revival, the many benefits of storing and aging beer in wood are being rediscovered.  Wood is a porous material, and gives beer a ‘funky’ character.  Wood interacts with the beer over time, and throws aromatic flavours into the beer such as vanilla (from the vanillin the wood), wood, oak, spice and tobacco.  Other flavours such as toasted coconut, caramel/toffee, hints of sherry and port are often evident.

Strong, dark beers are best for barrel aging.  Typically the effect of barrel aging darkens the base beer.  Best styles for barrel aging are Imperial Russian Stout, Barley Wine and American Strong Ale (such as today’s example Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon - 2012).  As expected, the previous occupant of the barrel will impart its own character on the beer – such as whiskey; bourbon or wine.


Characteristics of Barrel Aged Beer –

Flavour – Rich, round, slightly caramel flavours.  Touch of woodiness.

Aroma – Malt and hop character appropriate to the base beer.  Rich vanilla; toasted coconut; caramel/toffee; hints of sherry or port-like oxidised aromas and aromatics from base alcohol (whiskey; bourbon; wine).

Balance – Generally a bit sweet, but well balanced overall.

Seasonality – Best in colder weather.

Pair with – Huge rich desserts; stilton cheese.


Widmer Brothers Reserve – Barrel Aged Brrrbon - 2012 –


Beer Style                           -  Bourbon Barrel Aged American Strong Ale (Winter Warmer)

Alcohol by Volume          -  9.4% a.b.v.

Brewed by                          -  Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

Brewed in                           -  Portland, Oregon, USA


Creating Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon - 2012 –

Rob and Kurt Widmer, in the middle of dual mid-life crises, decided to quit their jobs and dedicate their lives to their first passion – brewing great beers.  Establishing Widmer Brothers brewery in Portland, Oregon – the epicentre of the craft brewing movement on the West Coast of the U.S. – they started bringing styles of beers that they loved to the flavour starved beer drinkers of America from the mid 1980’s.

To this day, Widmer Brothers continues to innovate.  As well as the main brewery, Widmer have a pilot plant at the brewery that has a capacity to brew batches of beer of 10 U.S. Barrels (just over 1,000 litres per batch).  The pilot brewery is called the ‘Rose Quarter Brewery’ as it is located quite close to the Rose Garden, home base for the NBA team the Portland Trailblazers.  Every year, Widmer Brothers brew in the region of 1,500 U.S. Barrels of beer on this plant – on average three batches per week – and no two batches are identical.  That’s 150 new beers created a year.  Of course, not all of these beers make it through to market – only the best are selected to be sold as a Widmer beer.  And out of these beers, the ‘Brothers Reserve’ beers are beers that are particularly special.


Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon started life as Brrr – a Strong American Ale, or Winter Warmer beer.  For a Brothers Reserve beer, a new twist was needed!  After aging in old bourbon barrels for four months, the malt and hop complexity of Brrr has melded harmoniously with the bourbon barrels to become a truly one of a kind beer.  

This beer presents with a beautiful dark amber colour and a medium white head.  Aromas of vanilla and sweet caramel compliment perfectly the underlying kick of bourbon.  A full bodied beer with distinct candy sugar notes, toffee, caramel, vanilla, spice and even berries!  Soft oak flavours transition into a sweet yet slightly dry finish, with a distinct hop bitterness.


Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon is best served in a Snifter or Tulip to properly relish the complex, sophisticated aromas of this contemporary classic.



 Try Mrs. Messiah’s Widmer Brothers Reserve – Barrel Aged Brrrbon Cream Sauce                     

Perfect with your Christmas Pudding!!!


Note – this base makes loads and loads! It will hold well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

You Need –

(For the base)

  • 225g of Dark Brown Sugar.
  • 110g butter.
  • 1 egg.
  • Approx. 70ml Widmer Brothers Reserve Brrrbon Barrel Aged Ale  (adjust to your own liking!)


(then just before serving)

  • Some lightly whipped cream. (the above base is good for up to 1.5L of whipped cream).


What you do -

  • Gently melt the butter over a low heat, stir in the sugar, allow to cool slightly
  • Whisk the egg, and add to butter and sugar, along with the Barrel Aged Brrrbon.  Refidgerate.
  • Just before serving, lightly whip the cream.  Stir the base, and spoon some of it into the cream, and gently fold.  Taste, and add more to your liking!


Key Stockists as follows –

Bradleys North Main StreetCork

Matsons Douglas and Bandon, Cork

No 21 Off Licences – across Munster

Tom Martin Off Licence,  FairviewDublin 3

Drinks Store, Manor StDublin 1.

Next Door, South Circular Road, Dublin 8.

Egans Off Licence, Portlaoise

Lamberts Craft Beer Bar, WexfordTown