Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida) recently announced the arrival of The Dark Woods Double Wood-aged Strong Brown Ale (2016) as the latest offering in a series devoted to exploring the world of wood-aged beers.
Over the years, Cigar City Brewmaster Wayne Wambles has become quite fond of aging beer in wooden vessels and using wood in his recipes. Through constant experimentation, his curiosity has grown into a passion that has ultimately made him an authority within the craft beer community on wood and barrel aging (“so much so that he was asked to write the introduction to Peter Bouckaert and Dick Cantwell’s recent book Wood & Beer: A Brewer’s Guide”). To further explore the realm of wood-aged beers, Wambles has created The Dark Woods Series, “a succession of beers dark in color and aged on wood of various origins and formats.” Previous releases in the series have used woods from the United States, France and Hungary, and have “explored the use of the same wood toasted to different levels of color and flavor to enhance different flavors and qualities of the oak.”
Arriving as the third release in this series, The Dark Woods 2016 starts with a base of a Strong Brown Ale brewed with “Golden Promise, a complex base malt from the United Kingdom, and five other special malt varieties for a depth of flavor not commonly found in the style.” This ale was hopped and dry-hopped with HBC 472, an experimental hop varietal that provides notes of coconut and “rustic woodiness.” Once the beer completed primary fermentation and was ready for the aging process, the brewers introduced padauk wood from Central Africa and sugar maple sourced from the northeastern United States “to impart woody, rustic notes and subtle hints of brown sugar as well as wood tannins for texture.” The finished beer produces “rich aromas of molasses, bread crust and toffee . . . complemented by more subtle notes of vanilla and coconut on the nose, while a formidable maltiness on the tongue hints at bitter chocolate and black licorice.”
The Dark Woods 2016 is available now as a limited release offering and will hang around while supplies last. You can find this brew in 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments within Cigar City Brewing’s distribution area. Be sure to pick up your bottle of The Dark Woods to experience a meticulously crafted offering from a brewmaster at the height of his skills. Prost!
Vital Information for The Dark Woods Double Wood-aged Strong Brown Ale (2016) from Cigar City Brewing
Release – Limited, November 2016
Style – Strong Brown Ale (Wood-aged)
ABV – 7.3%
IBUs – 49
Featured Woods – African Padauk wood & Sugar Maple
Availability – 22 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://cigarcitybrewing.com/find-ccb-beer/
Fun Fact: The Cigar City’s Wood-aging Process – “The process for adding wood to The Dark Woods beers is as unique as the beers themselves. Rather than age the beer in wooden vessels, a process that is fraught with the dangers of oxidation and infection, we instead use wooden spirals. Measuring in at 48” long, these spirals are made from the same wood that is used for barrel staves. The spirals go into a unique vessel called a Spinbot fashioned at Cigar City from an old beer serving tank. Our team fitted the tank with inlets and outlets to create a vessel capable of continual beer re-circulation. After the spirals are put into the tank, a pump moves the beer from the fermenter and into the tank where it’s spun at 50 cycles per second over the spirals before being sent back into the fermentation vessel. This continual re-circulation of beer over the spirals allows us to use fewer spirals and complete the wood-ageing process in a significantly shorter period of time.”