Wood-Aged Beer

BJCP 33a

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.

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. THIS CATEGORY SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BASE STYLES WHERE BARREL-AGING IS A FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT FOR THE STYLE (e.g., Flanders Red, Lambic, etc.).

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.
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.
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.