“Barrel aged” – a definition

If you haven’t been reading beer-related news this week, then you’ve probably missed the bare faced lies that Innis & Gunn (a beer brewer) have been trying to get away with.

Back in around 2010, they had to stop barrel aging their beers, due to a shortage of barrels. Instead they were referred to as “oak aged” as oak chips were added to the beer to impart flavour. No-one had any problem with that.

This week they have decided to stick two fingers up to beer drinkers. Their beers will be called barrel aged again. Are they going to be aged in barrels?

No, they are not. Instead of using oak chips, they are now going to be using chopped up bits of barrels and putting them into the beer. This is not barrel aging! Putting bits of barrel into beer does not a barrel aged beer make.

Here is a barrel:-


If you put beer in it, that beer is barrel aged. If you smash it up and put the bits into a beer in another vessel (usually some kind of metal tank), that beer is not barrel aged. At best it is “wood aged” but you can sod right off if you think you can call it barrel aged.

I’ve read a lot or articles and comments about this, and not one of them has agreed with I&G’s new “definition” of barrel aging. Because it’s not barrel aging. To call it that is pure deception. No-one should really be shocked at a company trying to deceive customers in this day and age, but this utterly cynical marketing ploy is just nasty. Publicity stunts like this remind me of the sage words from one of my favourite pieces from Bill Hicks (abridged):-

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing. Kill yourself. It’s just a little thought; I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can.

(Kill yourself.)

Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really. There’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. You are the ruiner of all things good. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage.

I know all the marketing people are going, “He’s doing a joke…” There’s no joke here whatsoever. “Oh, you know what Bill’s doing? He’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market. He’s very smart.”

How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like babies at night, don’t you?

Back to me now. All I am saying is don’t lie and then try and defend that lie every day in the face of overwhelming criticism. Just because there is no definition of barrel aging by Trading Standards doesn’t mean that you can just make up your own which goes against everyone else’s.

Even if you had never heard of barrel aging until reading this, if I’d have asked you to define it, I’m pretty certain you would have come up with this:-

“barrel aged” – any liquid that has been aged inside a wooden barrel.

End of.