The far­ther for­ward we go,

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Editor’s Note -

the more it seems as if we’re re­turn­ing to where we came from. Progress, in to­day’s craft-beer world, con­sists in part of dis­man­tling ideas of beer prop­a­gated by a cor­po­rate mono­cul­ture hell­bent on ho­mog­e­niza­tion. And one sig­nif­i­cant part of that for Amer­i­can brew­ers is re­dis­cov­er­ing not just our own his­tory but the broader global tra­di­tions of beer. One com­mon thread through­out the his­tory of beer? Ag­ing in wooden tanks, wooden bar­rels, and other wooden ap­pa­ra­tus de­signed to im­part fla­vor at times and at other times sim­ply pro­vide a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for the fer­men­ta­tion.

That we’ve re­cov­ered, for the most part, from the ills of cor­po­rate con­sol­i­da­tion and re­aligned with smaller, more in­ten­tional pro­duc­tion (no mat­ter the scale of the brew­ing busi­ness) is a tes­ta­ment to how far we’ve come, and while it’s mildly ironic that we’ve put in so much work only to get back to a place where we were (in some sense) a cen­tury ago—wild bugs, hazy and ester-for­ward un­fil­tered beers, etc.—it’s also re­as­sur­ing that these di­verse meth­ods of cre­at­ing great fla­vors in beer have not been sim­ply lost to time or sac­ri­ficed to ideas of progress and ef­fi­ciency.

We love wood-aged beers, and it’s no sur­prise that these beers to­day rate among some of the most cov­eted by beer drinkers. From rich spir­its fla­vors such as brandy and bour­bon in bar­rel-con­di­tioned stouts and strong ales to the Bret­tanomyces funk and cit­rus of wild and spon­ta­neous fer­men­ta­tions that set­tle in for years of slow and plod­ding acid­i­fi­ca­tion and at­ten­u­a­tion in all the nooks and cran­nies that wood pro­vides, there is just no top­ping the depth and char­ac­ter and nu­ance that ag­ing beer in wood pro­vides.

So join us as we ex­plore the topic of wood ag­ing in this is­sue and cel­e­brate brew­ers who push us for­ward by tak­ing us back. This is­sue is best di­gested with a beer in hand—slowly, sa­vor­ing the de­tail—so open your fa­vorite bar­rel- or wood-aged beer, take a sip, and turn the­cause we made it for you.

Jamie Bogner Co­founder & Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor Craft Beer & Brew­ing Mag­a­zine®

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