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Pioneer Square in Seattle. PHOTO: Sarah Lofgren

Everything You Didn’t Want To Know About Barrel Aging

Because I’m technically a millennial, I’ve decided to let the rest of you in on one of the coolest things to happen since the birth of the fist bump.

I’m here to tell you all about barrel aging.

Barrel aging is hot right now with Hip Young Things, especially those sporting beards and Tweety Bird tattoos. They all go home at Christmas and watch their parents drinking Coors and Bud Lights and they shake their heads at the tragic lameness of the old folk. Then, they return to their own apartments and pull a frosty, barrel aged stout out of their beer fridge, swishing it around in the glass like it’s wine, scotch or some other beverage that normal people actually want to drink. They drink it slowly (sometimes taking two hours or more), happy in the knowledge of their excellent taste.

Barrel aging is the ultimate My Fair Lady of the beer world. You start by taking an ordinary beer, one with a hideous hat and questionable accent, then you pop it inside a barrel for a few years. The beer comes out on the other end, sparkling, radiant and ready for the races. Suddenly hoards of eligible men find it desirable and it has the potential to make a lot of money at the box office.

If you live in a cool city, sometimes in the morning you will see a long line of men in plaid shirts standing on the sidewalk with excited expressions. You might think they are lining up to get a view of their favorite celebrity (someone from the band Weezer) or tickets to a cool, underground art show. This is not the case. They are lining up because someone on the internet told them there would be barrel aged beers waiting for them at the end of the line.

Sometimes they bring their wives. Wives are known as “mules” in the beer world, because they enable the husband to buy twice as many barrel aged beers. (If your husband asks you to mule, it’s time to start worrying about him.)

But barrel aging extends beyond the world of beer. The Painfully Hip are aware that the philosophy of barrel aging can be applied to all kinds of things.

Coffee is the cool person’s drink and has been for many years. Did you think coffee beans couldn’t get any cooler? You would be wrong, Square Person. The only thing cooler than a coffee bean is a coffee bean that has hung out in a barrel for a while.

The barrels have also turned their sights to honey. Do you find honey too sweet and a little boring? Try honey that comes out of a barrel. I can testify. It is better. But, still too sticky.

Yes, this is delicious.

I’m pretty sure they keep pickles inside of barrels.

I went to a hardware store and they had all the nails inside of barrels, so they’re also hip to this whole trend. This shouldn’t be surprising, as hardware stores tend to be pretty cool places to hang out. I tried to taste the nails to see if the flavor was improved, but they don’t allow sampling.

For some reason, when people want to go down a waterfall, they frequently do it inside of barrels. I would choose to do it inside a sturdier container, were I faced with such a choice, however, perhaps the trauma of the experience contributes to the quality of the barrel aging.

So, there it is. Everything you need to know about barrel aging. However, by the time you’ve finished reading this article, they probably will have started barrel aging something completely ridiculous, like fish or the concept of digital marketing. In the meantime, you mostly just need to know these things:

  1. Before barrels = less cool. After barrels = more cool.
  2. Don’t let anyone make you their mule.

Thanks for reading! I’m a freelance storyteller living in Seattle. If you’d like to yell at me about random stuff, I tweet here. 😸 🙌 💛

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Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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