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Got Wood? Chincasa Oak Belgian Strong From Funky Buddha Lounge (And Other Woody Beers)

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Back to Boca with the Buddha. Every Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft beer movement of Florida.

So the Buddha decided to dip their chips in 'em... or their spirals, cubes, or barrels -- that's right, we're talking about wood aged beers. Last night, the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton held a release event of seven different types of beer aged with various configurations of wood.

Beer and wood have a long history. For hundreds of years, beer was fermented in wood, aged in wood, shipped in wood, and served from wood. You could say that brewers have a hard-on for the stuff. Wine aficionados go nuts over the amount of oak that goes into Chardonnays, and storing big beers in barrels adds a subtle character from whatever was in it before.

See also: I-10 West Coast IPA From Intuition Ale Works: Hops In Radiant Copper

For the Funky Buddha Lounge, wood is just another ingredient to use in their culinary beer recipe tradition.

We ordered the Chincasa Oak Belgian Strong ale, which arrived with a thick and creamy looking Guinness-like head. The aroma had a mild sweet wine and yeast character to it. On the tongue, it hits with dark fruits (including some blueberry and raspberry tartness) that moves to an oaky and wet wood flavor. It finishes off slightly tart and with a hint of sourness to it. Overall, it's a strong contender for a solid European imported dark Belgian strong ale, but made right here in Palm Beach County.

We tried a few others, since this is South Florida Beer Week after all, including the Old Fashioned (notes of sour oranges and flavors that come out best when warmed), the Port Oak Imperial Red Rye (sweet rye malt comes out, again at warmer temps), and the Barrel Aged Handsome Devil Barleywine (a beer with toffee, butterscotch, and a huge warming element... in other words blissful).

One beer that stuck out to us was Tom & Eric's Oak Aged Honey Belgian Bourbon Ale. It had a brilliant red hue with dry and floral honey flavors coming out, paired with a light finish of sweet honey and vanilla. This is the creation of Tom Ogden and Eric Justynski, homebrewers who won the last Funky Buddha Homebrew Shop's brewing competition.

"There's some honey malt in it, and we had used Jamaican dogwood honey for the winning recipe," Ogden told us between sips of his winning brew.

"We also used oak cubes soaked in honey bourbon," his brewing partner Justynski added.

"We couldn't be happier... this beer was a true collaboration: our winning recipe and their house yeast."

If you can make it down to the Lounge this weekend, ask for some wood... and #DrinkLocal.

Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger that focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow me @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.



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