Barrel-Aged Abraxas

Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis is the youngest brewery to make our rare beer roundup. The company is also one of the most adventurous. Its barrel-aged Abraxas epitomizes the freewheeling approach the brewery applies to classic styles by incorporating cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks, and ancho chiles into an already intense imperial stout.

Ancho chiles pack a raisinlike flavor in addition to a mild heat, and the brewers have built in chocolate flavors and a malty depth that stands up to it. Since we missed out on snagging one of the 600 barrel-aged bottles that sold out in seconds upon the beer's release in January, we've only been able to sample the base beer. Despite a 6-bottle limit per customer, rumors flew about overzealous collectors planting mules on the line to increase their take.

The barrel-aged version of Abraxas is aged in Rittenhouse Rye barrels and promises to add notes of both this whiskey and some vanilla from the wood. Perennial has announced that the release in 2014 will see double the barrels hitting the street – meaning it will still be rare, but a little less impossible to get.