Cellar Rats Brewery in Madison has teamed up with nearby Red Eagle Distillery to launch its latest beer: Rye Rat Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale.
The brewery is using Red Eagle’s seven-gallon bourbon barrels, a smaller size that Cellar Rats says helps age the beer quicker.
"When we did this one other time using Jack Daniels barrels, it took 10 to 10 ½ months to really get the flavor we were looking for out of those barrels," brewery sales and marketing director Joel Sandrey said. "In this case, because they were such small barrels, we got the same equivalent flavor characteristics out of it in 45 to 50 days."
Cellar Rats starts with an amber ale, but not all of it is put in the barrels. Instead, some is kept aside to blend with the barrel-aged portion. The blending keeps the beer from just being a bourbon bomb.
"That seems to be the common complaint about a lot of bourbon barrels -- it's too boozy," Sandrey said. "If I want a beer that's really boozy, I'll do a depth charge and drop a shot of whiskey into my beer. We want to have that real delicate balance of the interesting flavors that come from the bourbon barrel without it tasting like a bunch of bourbon."
There's no rye in the beer, he added. The rye is a reference to the bourbon process.
The beer – which is 9 percent alcohol by volume -- is available now on draft only at Cellar Rats accounts throughout Northeast Ohio and at the brewery.