Oak barrels for beer aging

2 Barrel-Aged Beer Limited Releases Are Happening in Milwaukee This Weekend

Saturday is a big day for barrel-aged beer fans and here are the reasons why.

What’s better than a ton of new breweries? When those upstarts begin barrel aging beers. I’ve mentioned it before: limited releases generate excitement among local beer lovers, and that’s good for everybody.

Third Space Brewing In the Spirit Series
Two Third Space Haunted Barrel Beer Bottles
Photo courtesy of Third Space Brewing

The guys on St. Paul Avenue have done no wrong since opening last year and it’s a safe bet that their first barrel-aged beer event will draw quite a crowd. At noon, Third Space (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) is releasing Haunted Barrel Candy Bar Porter, which is made with coconut and aged for six months in rum and bourbon barrels with vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon. As an added treat, the brewery is also releasing a more limited variant aged in rum barrels with cocoa, vanilla and hazelnut.

This is the first release in a series that includes a barrel-aged barleywine on Black Friday (November 23) and a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout on December 9.

“We are extremely excited to release our first barrel-aged beer and to launch our In the Spirit Barrel-Aged Series,” said Third Space co-owner Andy Gehl. “We have a lot of fun barrel-aged beers planned for the next six months and beyond. We’re most excited to show people what we can do with these styles since we have been most well known to date for hoppier beers. We think people will be very pleased and we can’t wait for everyone to try our stuff.”


Products: Haunted Barrel Candy Bar Porter (750 mL), limit 3 per customer; Haunted Hazelnut Candy Bar Porter (500 mL), limit 1 per customer
Cost: $20 for each release
Time: Noon release. But get there much earlier than that. Third Space is handing out tickets to those in line to ensure that the early arrivals get what they came for. Available on tap while supplies last.

Broken Bat Brewing 762* “The King” Imperial Stout
Bottle of Broken Bat 762 Imperial Stout
Photo courtesy of Broken Bat Brewing

Broken Bat Brewing (231 E. Buffalo St.) has been doing its thing in the Third Ward since early April. The brewery aged its 755 “The King” Imperial Stout (named after Hank Aaron’s career home run record) in 16-year-old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. The result is 762* “The King” Imperial Stout, a less-than-subtle (but decidedly sarcastic) jab at Barry Bonds’ “tainted” home run record. This is Broken Bat’s first foray into the world of barrel aging.

“The beer profiles as a slightly sweeter imperial stout with a silky smooth finish and serious caramel and chocolate undertones,” explained Broken Bat co-owner Tim Pauly. “Weighing in at 10.6% ABV, we are absolutely ecstatic with how it turned out and cannot wait to share it with our consumers. Having tested the beer every week throughout the barrel aging process, we could not be happier with how it turned out.”


Products: 762* “The King” Imperial Stout (22 oz.), limit 3 per customer
Cost: $15
Time: Noon release. With just 525 bottles available it might be a good idea to get there early too. Also available on tap while supplies last.

Saturday will be an exciting day for Milwaukee’s beer scene. The supplies of each are limited and you can’t go to both at once, so I suggest that you map out a divide-and-conquer strategy with friends. Barrel-aging isn’t easy, and if it was, these releases wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

“Barrel-aging beers takes a lot of patience,” added Gehl. “Haunted Barrel has been aging for six months in bourbon and rum barrels but some of our other In the Spirit beers will have aged even longer than that. The process starts with recipe development and barrel selection long before we get to sample the finished product. Throw in aging, samplings, blending and small-scale hand bottling and there is definitely a lot of time and care spent on these beers.”






Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.