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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.). Special wood-aged wild ales should be entered in the Wild Specialty style.


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.

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.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify the additional alcohol character, with information about the barrel if relevant to the finished flavor profile. The entrant must specify the base style; the base style can be either a classic BJCP style (i.e., a named subcategory) or may be a generic type of beer (e.g., porter, brown ale). If an unusual wood or ingredient has been used, the entrant must supply a brief description of the sensory aspects the ingredients adds to the beer.

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.

Style Attributes