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This style is intended for beer aged in wood without added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other beers with an added alcohol character should be entered as Specialty Wood-Aged Beer.
Overall Impression: A pleasant enhancement of the base beer style with the characteristics from aging in contact with wood. The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced, and well-aged.
Aroma: Varies with base style. A low to moderate woody aroma is usually present; some varieties may have a stronger, or distinctive character. Fresh wood can occasionally impart raw, fresh-cut wood smell, although this character should never be too strong. If the wood is toasted or charred, there may be low to moderate vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, or cocoa character present.
Appearance: Varies with base style. Often darker than the unadulterated base beer style, particularly if toasted or charred barrels are used.
Flavor: Varies with base style. Wood usually contributes a woody flavor, and possibly a distinctive varietal character. New wood may add a raw, fresh-cut wood impression. Toasted or charred wood can add vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, toasted bread, toasted nuts, coffee, chocolate, or cocoa, depending on the wood varietal and level of toast or char. Wood-derived flavors should be balanced, supportive, and noticeable, while not overpowering the base beer style.
Mouthfeel: Varies with base style. Tannins from the wood may increase the perception of body, as well as enhancing the dryness of the finish; some astringency from wood tannins is allowable. Tart or acidic characteristics should be low to none, and never distracting.
Comments: Much of the character depends on the type of wood used, and how well it complements and enhances the base style. Age character is allowable, but excessive oxidation or sourness is a fault. Noticeable alcohol is not a fault in stronger base styles. This category should not be used for base styles where wood-aging is a fundamental requirement for the style (e.g., Flanders Red, Lambic). Beers made using either limited wood aging or products that only provide a subtle background character may be entered in the base beer style categories as long as the wood character isn’t prominently featured.
History: A traditional production method that is rarely used by major breweries, and usually only with specialty products. More popular with modern craft breweries looking for new, distinctive products. Oak cask and barrels are traditional, although other woods are becoming more popular.
Commercial Examples: Bush Prestige, Cigar City Spanish Cedar Jai Alai, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Midnight Sun Arctic Devil, Petrus Aged Pale, Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo