With its breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina, New Belgium has earned familiarity among mainstream drinkers for brands such as Voodoo Ranger and Fat Tire. However, New Belgium also has won its share of accolades and respect among peers and aficionados for its long-running wood-aging program, responsible for beloved beers such as La Folie and Dominga. The person leading that program for the past 25 years—and a pioneer of mixed-fermentation wood-aging in North America—has been Lauren Woods Limbach.
In this 78-minute video course, Limbach shares valuable lessons learned from running a wood-aging program that includes more than 50 large foeders—lessons that can help brewers at any scale avoid costly mistakes and produce more successful blends. Besides the art of tasting and blending, she emphasizes the critical importance of using data and science to help produce consistent, highly drinkable beers that sell.
“It’s not that romantic, but it is really fun,” she says. “It keeps me on my toes and out of trouble.”
Along the way, she discusses:
- the business side of running a large wood-aging program
- the need to forecast—and to pivot, when wood-aged beers defy your predictions
- the care and feeding of foeders
- versatile base beers for happy foeders and successful, true-to-brand blends
- the importance of preventive maintenance and cleanliness
- the role of sensory and analysis, and why you need a plan
- working with the effects of climate, humidity, and temperature on wood
- collecting data on your vessels to better predict the results
- working closely with the lab for a more sustainable wood-aging program
- hitting specs on wood-aged beers meant for blending into commercial brands
- careful back-filling to preserve the foeder’s pellicle and signature character
- avoiding spontaneous oxidation
- perfecting the finish on mixed-culture, wood-aged beers for greater drinkability
- working with unusual fruits and unconventional barrels
Want access to more video courses like this one? This complete course is available to our Industry All Access subscribers, who also get access to more 80 other full-length Craft Beer & Brewing courses on a diverse range of topics. All our subscriptions come with a 100-percent money-back guarantee—if you don’t love it, we’re happy to refund you.