About This Course

This course includes 58+ minutes of video

In this video course, Ponce goes into detail on Firestone Walker’s program of barrel-aging and blending—from grain to glass. Topics include: 

  • Designing recipes from the outset with barrels in mind 
  • Brewing big beers meant for barrels, from tricky mashes to long boils and healthy fermentations 
  • Sourcing, selecting, and filling barrels 
  • Minimizing and managing (but expecting) oxidation in barrel-aged beers
  • Tasting and testing, and the importance of lab and sensory results
  • Emptying barrels and monitoring dissolved oxygen 
  • Flavoring barrel-aged beers with adjuncts such as coconut, coffee, hazelnuts, and ginger 
  • Using recirculation with adjuncts for shorter time and greater control over flavor extraction 

Plus: a demonstration of the kind of benchtop testing used to dial in blends and adjuncts. And more.


Eric Ponce has led two of the country’s biggest and best-regarded barrel programs, first at Goose Island in Chicago and now—for the past five years—at Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, California. There he oversees the aging and blending of such heavyweights as Parabola, Bravo, Velvet Merkin, and their annual Anniversary Ale, as well as a fascinating series of cocktail-inspired blends composed of beers aged in various spirit barrels.

Eric Ponce

Barrel Manager, Firestone Walker

Course curriculum

  • 01


    Show Content
    • Meet the Instructor: Eric Ponce

    • About Firestone Walker’s Barrel-Aging Program

    • Barrel-Aging, According to the Oxford Companion to Beer

    • Neil Fisher of WeldWerks on Barrel-Aging for Homebrewers

  • 02

    Intention & Recipe Design

    Show Content
    • Designing Barrel-Aged Beers

    • Michael Kane of Kane Brewing on Barrel-Aging Award-Winning Stout

  • 03

    Working with Barrels & Barrel-Aged Beer

    Show Content
    • Sourcing & Processing Barrels, and Aging Times

    • Prepping Used Barrels for Aging Beer

    • Blending Parabola

    • Discovering the Unexpected

    • Emptying Barrels, Testing & Tasting

  • 04

    Flavor Adjuncts & Blending

    Show Content
    • Selecting & Extracting Adjuncts: Recirculation Method & Blending

    • On the Barrel-Processing Floor

  • 05

    Conclusion, Recipes & Further Reading

    Show Content
    • Thank You

    • Homebrewing Tips: Wood-Aging without a Barrel

    • Neil Fisher on Brewing Beers Meant for Extended Aging

    • Recipe: Kane Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

    • Recipe: No Heart English-Style Barleywine

    • Recipe: Private Press Base Imperial Stout

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