Looking for a beer to celebrate with a homemade Mexican meal on Cinco de Mayo, I passed on the Dos Equis and margarita in a bottle, and the Mexican lager aged in tequila barrels. Being of a contrary nature, I settled on a beer from our friends to the north, Labatt’s Prohibition Series Bourbon Barrel Ale. I think it was the stubby bottle that won me over.
The Prohibition Series is supposed to pay tribute to the fact that Canada helped keep the beer flowing during the failed 13-year social experiment in American history known as Prohibition.

I’ll drink to that.

While nicely carbonated, there is almost no head other than a thin wispy ring clinging to the very edge of the glass. This pale ale brewed with staves from bourbon barrels and “natural flavors added” is easy drinking with a big woody vanilla presence and a distinct aftertaste of alcohol.

It should pair nicely with homemade enchiladas.
And speaking of barrel-aged (or stave-aged – what, they couldn’t afford the whole barrel?), I ran into an exotic Belgian-style ale called Brainless on Cherries. It popped out at me from a very interesting menu at Bier Zot, a place in Sister Bay, Wis., that is heavy on Belgian beers, along with exotic crafts such as Brainless on Cherries.
This beauty is aged in French oak barrels that once contained either Cabernet or Syrah, and it weighs in at a hefty 10.5 percent. It’s part of the Exponential Series from Epic Brewing of Salt Lake City and Denver. Lots of smoky oakiness and cheery cherries. I shared my 22-ounce bomber with a couple of beer enthusiasts. It’s meant to share.
The Exponential Series includes peach and raspberry versions of Brainless, as well as a Double Skull Doppelbock and a Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. I will keep my eye peeled in order to get Brainless again.