Commercial Barrel-Aging

Barreled in Bond: Whiskey Hill + Midwest Barrel Co.'s Barrel-Aged Beer Collaboration

By Midwest Barrel Co.

January 27th, 2023

From left: Ethan Schulenberg and Ben Loseke of MWBC and Kevin Hopkins and Eric Flores of Whiskey Hill Brewing Company taste beer samples from bourbon barrels.
From left: Ethan Schulenberg and Ben Loseke of MWBC and Kevin Hopkins and Eric Flores of Whiskey Hill Brewing Company taste beer samples from bourbon barrels.

Cross another barrel-aged beer off the Midwest Barrel Co. to-do list.

Thanks to our good friends at Whiskey Hill Brewing Company, we now have our second beer collaboration under our belt.

Introducing: Barreled in Bond, a joint effort between two businesses that love damn good beer and barrels. Whiskey Hill will be releasing 750 ml bottles of Barreled in Bond and one variant, Barreled in Bond Brulée, at its Westmont, Illinois taproom on Saturday, February 4th. Both beers will be available on draft, too.

Go straight to the beer details or keep reading to learn about how Midwest Barrel Co. collaborates with our brewery partners.

Why collaborate?

MWCB team posing with Whiskey Hill Brewing team

While brewery collabs with non-brewery businesses aren’t new, you might be wondering why Midwest Barrel Co. is active in the space. Collaborations like this are an opportunity for everyone to grow as barrel slingers.

MWBC takeaways: Our team gained a brewer’s perspective on how Whiskey Hill approaches barrel-aged beers and how different beer styles interact with spirits and wood. We can take this back to our other partners and provide a better experience.

Whiskey Hill takeaways: Brewers benefit from the knowledge of the barrel supplier and can take recommendations for which barrel might best suit the brewery’s vision for a barrel-aged beer. Having the barrel supplier work hand-in-hand with brewers can also help new breweries or even homebrewers get started aging beer in wood.

We have two collabs under our belt now, the first being with Tripping Animals for their 2022 Irie Jungle festival beer release.

Your brewery could be next. Email Ethan if you’re interested.

How MWBC approaches collabs

The saying “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” applies to collaborations, too. We prefer beer collabs, by the way, and do not condone any method or even the idea of skinning a cat. Just want to be clear.

As for collaborations, they always start when someone has an idea. Barreled in Bond was no different.

The idea

Eric from Whiskey Hill Brewing tapping a barrel

We have to give credit here to the Whiskey Hill crew for getting the ball rolling. Head Brewer Eric Flores and his team were tasting samples of their barrels. He noticed that each person brought something different to the tasting table, with different sensitivities to heat, char, vanillin leather and other nuanced flavors.

That’s when he had the idea to bring in Midwest Barrel Co. to collaborate. Who better to pick up distinct notes from each barrel, he thought, than the folks who supplied them?

Hey, thanks for thinking of us, Eric!

The collaboration

Whiskey Hill crew pulling a sample from a barrel

MWBC and Whiskey Hill have worked together since December 2020 following their gold medal and Overall Runner-Up award at the Festival of Wood And Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) in Chicago. We’ve since supplied barrels and they’ve continued to knock out aged beers with amazing results.

Fast forward to May 2022, when Ethan, MWBC’s Director of Business Development, reached out to Eric about any upcoming barrel needs.

Eric’s reply? Let’s do a collab.

The Whiskey Hill and MWBC teams met up over Zoom later in May and talked about meeting up sometime around FoBAB 2022. They talked about the idea again in August, this time in person – over some of Whiskey Hill’s highly sought after barrel-aged beers – at Boneflower Invitational.

When Ethan and Co-Owner Ben flew to Illinois a few days ahead of FoBAB, they made it a point to stop at Whiskey Hill, sample barrels and talk barrel-aging.

Ethan and Eric stayed in contact and talked barrel progress via text messages and email threads. The teams then floated barrel picks, artwork, adjuncts and other details that go into a collaboration.

Once the beer was ready, the MWBC and Whiskey Hill marketing teams collaborated on everything from beer label design to social media posts. 

The beer

award winning brew
award winning brew
Beer label design by Adan Ramirez

Now the good stuff.

With barrel-aged stouts, Whiskey Hill looks at each barrel as a puzzle piece that will eventually fit together and create a unique beer. They start with the base beer and then: barrels.

Over the course of months of tasting, the WHBC team takes careful notes that track what flavors stand out from individual barrels (vanilla, oak, chocolate, fruit, etc). With Barreled in Bond, WHBC and MWBC tasted over 20 barrels, determined flavor profiles and noted what they could add to a blend.

While tasting, the WHBC decided to release a single barrel and an adjuncted version. The barrels picked for the blended adjuncted were a 10-year Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel and a 6-year Willett bourbon barrel. The single release version comes from a Basil Hayden bourbon barrel.

Some barrel notes from Eric at Whiskey Hill for our fellow barrel nerds:

10 year Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel notes

  • Heavy caramel and pale chocolate malt base recipe

  • Aged 11 months

  • Notes of caramelized sugar, sweet vanilla, 'crème brulée' vibes

  • High viscosity, moderate sweetness, medium heat, subtle oak.

6 year Willett bourbon barrel

  • Heavy golden naked oats and chocolate rye base recipe
  • Aged 14 months
  • Notes of sweet cinnamon and milk chocolate

Basil Hayden bourbon barrel

  • Heavy flaked oats and chocolate malt base recipe
  • Aged 10 months
  • Notes of Toasted wood, brown sugar, deeply imbued dark oak
  • Medium viscosity, light sweetness, medium heat, moderate oak

With the blended adjuncted version (Buffalo Trace and Willett bourbon barrels), a crème brulée flavor stood out. The two teams decided to build on this, so Whiskey Hill added Sri Lankan vanilla beans that were smoked first and Ceylon cinnamon.

Delicious, right?

The release

If you’re so inclined to get your hands on Barreled in Bond and Barreled in Bond Brulée, 750 ml bottles of both will be sold at the Whiskey Hill taproom in Westmont, Illinois on Saturday, February 4th.

There are only 100 bottles of Barreled in Bond and 400 of the Brulée available, but they will be available on draft, too.

Want to collaborate?

Our first two beer collaboration experiences have been so positive that we’re looking for more breweries interested in planning future collabs.

If you’re interested or want more information on how we do what we do, give Ethan a call or email.

MWBC logo


Midwest Barrel Company

Just your resident barrel slingers delivering some damn good content

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