Specialty Wood-Aged Beer

33B. Specialty Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood with added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other similar beers should be entered here.

Overall Impression:
A harmonious blend of the base beer style with characteristics from aging in contact with wood (including alcoholic products previously in contact with the wood). The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced and well-aged.

Aroma:
Varies with base style. A low to moderate wood- or oak-based aroma is usually present. Other aromatics often include a low to moderate vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, or cocoa character, as well as any aromatics associated with alcohol (distilled spirits, wine, etc.) previously stored in the wood. The added alcohol character should be smooth and balanced, not hot. Some background oxidation character is optional, and can take on a pleasant,sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Appearance:
Varies with base style. Often darker than the unadulterated base beer style, particularly if whiskey/bourbon barrels are used. Beers aged in wine barrels or other products with distinctive colors may also impart a color to the finished beer.

Flavor:
Varies with base style. Wood usually contributes a woody or oaky flavor. Other flavors that are typically present include vanilla (from vanillin in the wood); caramel, butterscotch, toasted bread or almonds (from toasted wood); coffee, chocolate, cocoa (from charred wood or bourbon casks); and alcohol flavors from other products previously stored in the wood. The wood and/or other cask-derived flavors should be balanced, supportive and noticeable, but should not overpower the base beer style. Some background oxidation character is optional, although this should take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Mouthfeel: Varies with base style. Wood can add tannins to the beer, depending on age of the cask. The tannins can lead to additional astringency (which should never be high), or simply a fuller mouthfeel. Usually exhibits additional alcohol warming. Higher alcohol levels should not result in “hot” beers; aged, smooth flavors are most desirable. Tart or acidic characteristics should be low to none.

History:
A traditional production method that is rarely used by major breweries, and usually only with specialty products. Quite popular with modern American craft breweries looking for new, distinctive products. Oak cask and barrels are traditional, although other woods can be used.

Comments:
The base beer style should be apparent. The wood-based character should be evident, but not so dominant as to unbalance the beer. The intensity of the wood-based flavors is based on the contact time with the wood; the age, condition, previous usage of the barrel; and the type of wood. Alcoholic products previously stored in the wood should be evident, but should not be so dominant as to unbalance the beer.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Varies with base style. Aged in wooden casks or barrels previously used to store alcohol (e.g., whiskey, bourbon, port, sherry, Madeira, wine, etc). Fuller-bodied, higher-gravity base styles often are used since they can best stand up to the additional flavors, although experimentation is encouraged.

Vital Statistics:
OG: varies with base style, typically above-average
FG: varies with base style
ABV: varies with base style, typically above-average
IBUs: varies with base style
SRM: varies with base style, often darker than the unadulterated base style

Commercial Examples:
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, J.W. Lees Harvest Ale in Port, Sherry, Lagavulin Whisky or Calvados Casks, The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Ale; many microbreweries have specialty beers served only on premises often directly from the cask.

Wood-Aged Beer

33A. Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood without added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other similar beers should be entered as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer.

Overall Impression:
A harmonious blend of the base beer style with 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 wood- or oak-based aroma is usually present. Fresh wood can occasionally impart raw “green” aromatics, although this character should never be too strong. Other optional aromatics include a low to moderate vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, or cocoa character from any char on the wood. Any alcohol character should be smooth and balanced, not hot. Some background oxidation character is optional, and can take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like. Should not have added alcohol character.

Appearance:
Varies with base style. Often darker than the unadulterated base beer style, particularly if toasted/charred barrels are used.

Flavor:
Varies with base style. Wood usually contributes a woody or oaky flavor, which can occasionally take on a raw “green” flavor if new wood is used. Other flavors that may optionally be present include vanilla (from vanillin in the wood); caramel, butterscotch, toasted bread or almonds (from toasted wood); and coffee, chocolate, cocoa (from charred wood). The wood and/or other cask-derived flavors should be balanced, supportive and noticeable, but should not overpower the base beer style. Some background oxidation character is optional, although this should take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Mouthfeel:
Varies with base style. Wood can add tannins to the beer, depending on age of the cask. The tannins can lead to additional astringency (which should never be high), or simply a fuller mouthfeel. Tart or acidic characteristics should be low to none, and never distracting.

Comments:
The base beer style should be apparent. The wood-based character should be evident, but not so dominant as to unbalance the beer. The intensity of the wood-based flavors is based on the contact time with the wood; the age, condition, and origin and char level of the barrel; and the type of wood. 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 American craft breweries looking for new, distinctive products. Oak cask and barrels are traditional, although other woods are becoming more popular.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Varies with base style. Aged in wooden casks or barrels, or using wood-based additives (wood chips, wood staves, oak essence). Fuller-bodied, higher-gravity base styles often are used since they can best stand up to the additional flavors, although experimentation is encouraged.

Vital Statistics:
OG: varies with base style, typically above-average
FG: varies with base style
ABV: varies with base style, typically above-average
IBUs: varies with base style
SRM: varies with base style, often darker than the unadulterated base style

Commercial Examples:
Bush Prestige, Cigar City Humidor India Pale Ale, Faust Holzfassgereifter Eisbock, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Petrus Aged Pale, Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo

Wild Specialty Beer

28C. Wild Specialty Beer

Overall Impression:
A sour and/or funky version of a fruit, herb, or spice beer, or a wild beer aged in wood. If wood-aged, the wood should not be the primary or dominant character.

Aroma:
Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. The best examples will blend the aromatics from the fermentation with the special ingredients, creating an aroma that may be difficult to attribute precisely.

Appearance:
Variable by base style, generally showing a color, tint, or hue from any fruit (if used) in both the beer and the head. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention is often poor.

Flavor:
Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. Any fruit sweetness is generally gone, so only the esters typically remain from the fruit. The sour character from the fruit and wild fermentation could be prominent, but should not be overwhelming. The acidity and tannin from any fruit can both enhance the dryness of the beer, so care must be taken with the balance. The acidity should enhance the perception of the fruit flavor, not detract from it. Wood notes, if present, add flavor but should be balanced.

Mouthfeel:
Variable by base style. Generally a light body, lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation; carbonation should balance the base style if one is declared. The presence of tannin from some fruit or wood can provide a slight astringency, enhance the body, or make the beer seem drier than it is.

Comments:
A wild beer featuring fruit, herbs, spices, or wood based on a style other than lambic. Could be another Classic Style (normally sour or not), or something more generic. These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor.

History:
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Virtually any style of beer. Any combination of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or other similar fermenters. Can also be a blend of styles. While cherries, raspberries, and peaches are most common, other fruits can be used as well. Vegetables with fruit-like characteristics (chile, rhubarb, pumpkin, etc.) may also be used. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison:
Like a fruit, herb, spice, or wood beer, but sour and/or funky.

Flanders Red Ale

23B. Flanders Red Ale

Overall Impression:
A sour, fruity, red wine-like Belgian-style ale with interesting supportive malt flavors and fruit complexity. The dry finish and tannin completes the mental image of a fine red wine.

Aroma:
Complex fruity-sour profile with supporting malt that often gives a wine-like impression. Fruitiness is high, and reminiscent of black cherries, oranges, plums or red currants. There are often low to medium-low vanilla and/or chocolate notes. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. The sour aroma ranges from balanced to intense. Prominent vinegary acetic character is inappropriate. No hop aroma. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary aroma.

Appearance:
Deep red, burgundy to reddish-brown in color. Good clarity. White to very pale tan head. Average to good head retention.

Flavor:
Intense fruitiness commonly includes plum, orange, black cherry or red currant flavors. A mild vanilla and/or chocolate character is often present. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. Sour flavor ranges from complementary to intense, and can have an acidic bite. Malty flavors range from complementary to prominent, and often have a soft toasty-rich quality. Generally as the sour character increases, the malt character blends to more of a background flavor (and vice versa). No hop flavor. Restrained hop bitterness. An acidic, tannic bitterness is often present in low to moderate amounts, and adds an aged red wine-like character and finish. Prominent vinegary acetic character is inappropriate. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary flavor. Balanced to the malt side, but dominated by the fruity, sour, wine-like impression.

Mouthfeel:
Medium bodied. Low to medium carbonation. Low to medium astringency, like a well-aged red wine, often with a prickly acidity. Deceivingly light and crisp on the palate although a somewhat sweet finish is not uncommon.

Comments:
Long aging and blending of young and well-aged beer often occurs, adding to the smoothness and complexity, though the aged product is sometimes released as a connoisseur’s beer. Known as the Burgundy of Belgium, it is more wine-like than any other beer style. The reddish color is a product of the malt although an extended, less-than-rolling portion of the boil may help add an attractive Burgundy hue. Aging will also darken the beer. The Flanders red is more acetic (but never vinegar-like) and the fruity flavors more reminiscent of a red wine than an Oud Bruin. Can have an apparent attenuation of up to 98%.

History:
An indigenous beer of West Flanders, typified by the products of the Rodenbach brewery, established in 1820 in West Flanders but reflective of earlier brewing traditions. The beer is aged for up to two years, often in huge oaken barrels which contain the resident bacteria necessary to sour the beer. It was once common in Belgium and England to blend old beer with young to balance the sourness and acidity found in aged beer. While blending of batches for consistency is now common among larger breweries, this type of blending is a fading art.

Characteristic Ingredients:
A base of Vienna and/or Munich malts, light to medium cara-malts, and a small amount of Special B are used with up to 20% maize. Low alpha acid continental hops are commonly used (avoid high alpha or distinctive American hops). Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces (and acetobacter) contribute to the fermentation and eventual flavor.

Style Comparison:
Less malty-rich than an Oud Bruin, often with more of a fruity-tart profile.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.048 – 1.057
IBUs: 10 – 25 FG: 1.002 – 1.012
SRM: 10 – 16 ABV: 4.6 – 6.5%

Commercial Examples:
Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge, Duchesse de Bourgogne, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Rodenbach Klassiek, Vichtenaar Flemish Ale