Along with the Sour Beer Studies, there are other classes of beers that set themselves apart in some way other than reflecting traditional styles. Brewers are reintroducing techniques like beer on the wood to explore the limits of what beer can be and we'll look at them in this series. Dave Line in his 1974 text The Big Book of Brewing wrote about using wooden casks from a home brewing perspective at a time when he saw it as a dying art:
It is a great thrill to draw your own beer from the wood. The management of this beer is an art and it may take years to develop all the skills. I am by no means an expert, but I take comfort in the fact that I am learning the art of one of our most treasured crafts, and that perhaps my efforts will prolong the traditions of our heritage.Musette by Allagash is another nod to that tradition, this particular one aged on bourbon barrels for three months and then bottled in May 2006 - 32 years after Line feared for the loss of the heritage. At 10% it certainly reflects Line's preference that beers attempted to be aged on wood be high gravity. At opening, there was a breath of autumn apple from the bottle that stayed with the ale after the pour, providing maybe a hint of calvados mixed with the raisin-malty aroma. It pours a thick clingy white foam head over deep orange amber ale. In the mouth plenty of roundness of raisin, date and apple with a Belgian musty yeast all cut by a hardwood vanilla dryness from the oak with a bit of tea astringency in the finish. Described by the brewer as aimed at the Belgian made Scotch ales like this silly one reviewed last January, the effect is somewhere between dubbel and barleywine. Very nice but not cheap at $15.59 USD for 750 ml.