This Saturday is the 149th Belmont Stakes. For some, this means the longest and last race in the Triple Crown and a chance to root for your favorite horse. For others, it means throwing on a semi silly hat and day drinking while occasionally acknowledging the fact that horse racing is occurring. Since the event has its own signature cocktail, we’re going to assume the latter applies to most people.
The Belmont Jewel is a simple combo of bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice and it’s so popular it sold out before the final race last year. If you’re planning on watching at home, here’s the recipe:
• 1.5 ounces of Woodford Reserve
• 2 ounces of lemonade
• 1 ounce of pomegranate juice
Shake all the ingredients together with ice, pour into a rocks glass and enjoy your day of horses, hats and drinks. And don’t worry beer lovers, you can still get in on the festive action. Here are a few of our favorite bourbon barrel aged beers to enjoy in honor of Belmont.
Brooklyn Black Ops is a rich, flavorful stout that is aged for months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels and carbonated with champagne yeast. The result is a slightly sweet, robust stout with coffee, bourbon and vanilla notes. Though it contains over 10% alcohol, it’s smooth and easy to drink without any harshness. It comes in a 750 ml corked bottle, perfect for celebrations, and is available at local beverage stores.
Another “special occasion” beer is Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Rasputin, brewed by North Coast. Full disclosure: this is probably Alicia’s favorite beer of all time. A little stronger than Black Ops, it tastes like a delicious combination of coffee, toffee and dark chocolate. If there are any non-beer drinkers in the crowd, give them a small glass of this. It might just be the beer that brings them over to the dark side.
One of the more elusive barrel aged beers has always been Goose Island Bourbon County. They’ve been brewing the stout for over 20 years and release it once a year. When it’s gone, it’s gone, but the bottles age well and can be saved for years before enjoying. This one comes in standard size bottles which makes it perfect for sharing with one other person, or slowly sipping solo. Psst…Saint James Beverage still has bottles of 2017 Bourbon County in stock.
For something on the lighter side, at least in color, Founders Doom is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial India Pale Ale. The hoppy, sweet IPA has a ton of vanilla, oak and malty notes. If you’re looking for a beer that is very bourbon forward, this one’s for you.
Though the weather has been cold and rainy, it is still June which is not exactly prime time for bourbon barrel aged beers. However, they usually get better with time so you can stockpile some local favorites for next year. A couple to look for are Long Ireland’s Barrel Aged Black Friday and Port Jeff Barrel Aged Porter. Sand City, Destination Unknown, Other Half and Finback also release barrel aged beers throughout the year, so grab one whenever you see it at a local brewery. Better yet, grab two to make sure at least one makes it to next year’s Belmont Stakes.