Theres magic in that barrel.
There's magic in that barrel. Lester Black

Something magical happens when a great brewer barrel-ages their beer. They use rudimentary and ancient tools—mainly the combination of wood and time—to turn ordinary beer into something extraordinary. It’s no wonder that some of the most celebrated Seattle beers aren’t the delicious IPAs that can be churned out in three weeks, but the barrel-aged stouts and barley wines that can take years to develop.

What’s behind the magic of barrel-aging beer? That’s the question we will be exploring at Barrel Wizards, our third event in The Stranger’s new Zymurgy beer series. We’re bringing together the brewers and the beer from Holy Mountain Brewing, Fremont Brewing, and Reuben’s Brews at Reuben’s new taproom in Ballard on April 30. Like the last two events in our Zymurgy series, this event will feature a curated tasting flight of barrel-aged beers and a moderated panel discussion with the brewers. Tickets cost $20 and will go on sale at 3 p.m. today.

We had a fascinating discussion at Weird Fermentation, the first event in the Zymurgy beer series, and I expect the beer and discussion at Barrel Wizards will be just as interesting. These brewers make truly world-class, extraordinary barrel-aged beer.

Reuben’s has been releasing barrel-aged stouts since 2013 and people have noticed. Crowds line up for the smooth maltiness of their Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stouts, and their relatively new barrel-aged sour program is already bearing delicious fruit under the Brettania label.

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Holy Mountain produces such delicious barrel-aged beer that beer nerds across the country will fly to Seattle for the chance to purchase legendary beers like Midnight Still, a barrel-aged imperial stout, or Hand of Glory, a barrel-aged British barley wine. These beers have captivated such an audience that it’s hard to imagine that Holy Mountain is only about five years old.

And Fremont Brewing’s barrel-aging program has an almost mythological status to it. People will spend hundreds of dollars trying to buy Brew 1000, a Bourbon barrel-aged British barley wine that is said to be full of notes of caramel, bourbon, and vanilla wrapped in a decadently smooth body. Like most people, I have never had a chance to try to this vaunted beer.

These are some of the best barrel-aged brewers in the state, so we are absolutely thrilled that all three are willing to party over barrel-aged beers with us. Fremont’s barrel-aged beers hold four of the top five spots on BeerAdvocate’s list of the top 50 beers in Washington state. The fifth on the list is Holy Mountain’s Midnight Still. That’s basically a guarantee that Barrel Wizards is going to be a tasty event.