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The number of craft breweries with some level of barrel aging program has risen dramatically over the past decade, with most gravitating toward used whiskey casks, particularly bourbon, to add new oaky, vanilla and boozy flavor elements to select batches. But whiskey certainly is far from being the only game in town, especially as brewers experiment with oak containers that previously held everything from brandy to Italian-style amari.

Placentia, California’s, The Bruery has been among the leading innovators in that space. In addition to bourbon, Scotch and rye whiskey barrels, the company has used rum, brandy and tequila barrels, as well as casks that were once home to fortified wines like port and Madeira.
A few years back, The Bruery released Sucré, its sixth-anniversary ale, in various barrel-aged iterations, including rum and Madeira. The now-retired 16.9 percent ABV English-style Old Ale was blended using the solera method, a traditional practice in blending sherry where fractions of liquid from younger barrels are merged with small portions from older ones.

Strong, bold brews like Sucré — French for “sugar,” as “sugar” is the traditional sixth-anniversary gift — are the ones that hold up best in rum barrels.