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The birch wrap on these oak barrels is an aesthetic tip of the hat to old-school barrel-aging techniques: Since birch is softer than oak, insects were more likely to eat it than the inner wood during the barrels’ long storage. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

Sips: Banded Oak Brewing Co.

This Broadway brewery ages its beers in French oak Cabernet barrels.

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With a craft brewery opening about every other week in Colorado—seriously, 46 started pouring in 2016 alone—newcomers need to distinguish themselves by offering more than just good beer. At nine-month-old Banded Oak Brewing Co. on Broadway, that special something comes from the barrels you see here: Instead of aging its brews in whiskey barrels, Banded Oak opts for French oak Cabernet barrels from Napa Valley’s iconic Grace Family Vineyards. “Whiskey-aged beers can knock your socks off,” says co-founder and owner Will Curtin, who previously managed Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Arapahoe Street taproom.

Wine barrels lend more complex flavors, according to brewer Chris Kirk, also formerly of Great Divide, because they are toasted on the inside—not charred like whiskey barrels—so more of the wood notes mingle with the wine. (Think “oaky” Chardonnay.) Banded Oak’s Cabernet barrels add deep fruit flavors to the aged varietals rotating through its 11 beer taps, from a rye saison to the robust Scotch ale (pictured), a darker brew with a sweet finish—not unlike a fine wine. 470 Broadway, 720-479-8033, bandedoakbrewing.com

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