on wood

28 Oct
refraining from any silly puns on wood

refraining from any silly puns on wood

This isn’t a treatise on aging beers on wood.  It’s a tasty way to influence beer and it’s been happening since forever.  Before there was stainless steel, there were wood barrels.  For a nice, detailed accounting of why it was/is done and how, go here.

More importantly is what has prompted this post, which is a Widmer Brothers Downward Spiral Imperial India Style Pale Lager aged on oak spirals.  I am not even going to get into this “style”.  It’s an approximation of many things.  It is aged on oak spirals, which is a faster way to get oak influence in the beer without having to stick it in a barrel.  I have read that two oak spirals in a 6 gallon batch of homebrew is the equivalent of aging a beer in an oak barrel for 8 months.  Anyway, the beer…

Very much a burnt orange color.  Nice initial tan head that ends up as a thin layer the rest of the way.  Some slight Pilsner Malts and oak come through with just a smattering of hop aroma.  Vanilla is the first thing I notice when I taste the beer.  Some light hints of rum after that.  The wood is a big part of the flavor.  A bit of caramel sweetness comes next with pretty intense bitterness to finish it all out.  Although it is 9% ABV, it doesn’t have the heat you might expect.  There is some chewiness to this beer…did the wood aging add all of that? Or is that from the grain bill used?  I have no idea, but it is pretty bold and a definite sipper.  Some others have said it has that clean lager finish, but I don’t see it.  It still feels like an ale to me.  As the beer sits the wood starts to become the dominant flavor.  It’s not bad really, but starts to lack any nuance of flavor.  Just oak and more oak.  You have to like oak/wood flavors to want this more than once.  But at that ABV it might age fairly well.  Try one now and save one for next year, right?  Might have to follow my own advice.

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