Beer Review: Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong from Category 12 (Aged One Year)

20170707_003513Back in 2015, Category 12 Brewing in Victoria BC ran an Indiegogo campaign for what they called their Barrelholder program. The purpose of the campaign was to raise funds to purchase lots of oak barrels and all of the equipment required for aging beer in them.

The first beer that resulted from this barrel-aging project was a red wine barrel-aged version of their Belgian Golden Strong. This beer was first released a year ago this month and thankfully I had the willpower to keep a couple of extra bottles aside, just for the purpose of aging.

Commercial desciption:

This limited release Belgian Golden Strong Ale is crafted to be bright and crip with a medium body. Lightly fruity and spicy, the aging in red wine oak barrels has imparted delicate toasted oak and caramel notes. Combined with sweet vanilla overtones and a deceptive 10.6% ABV, the barrel process has added depth and complexity to an already delicious beer.


This beer poured out a red-gold colour with a finger of puffy white head that dissipated slowly and left gentle spots of cloudy lacing as the glass drained.

The nose was rich with vanilla bean sweet malts, tropical fruits from the yeast esters, oak, a vinous aroma, and booze.

The palate had a strong vanilla presence, with Belgian yeast esters reminiscent of pineapple and guava, caramel-like malts, a touch of red wine grapes, and gentle undertones of wood and tannins.

The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and smooth, with strong carbonation considering the age. The finish medium-sweet and boozy.

When this beer first came out, some complained that the flavour profile was a little muddled. I found that aging the beer for a full year allowed some of the vinous and tannic notes to settle a little, which has provided the beer with a lot more balance. I actually get really bad jaw pain from the astringency of the tannins in red wine and found I got a touch of it the first time I drank this beer. Thankfully, I found I did not have this reaction after aging the bottle.

I really enjoyed this beer and I’m glad that I bought a bunch to stash in the cellar. I still have another couple tucked away for future years.

Next up: Anomaly!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Serving temp: 12-14C

Glassware: Teku, tulip, snifter, chalice