OK, that headline is a bit of a stretch. What’s true is that New England white oak “contains more trans-whiskey lactones and fewer tannins than Midwest white oak” which might be of interest to particular brewers or distillers looking to store their wares. So maybe they’re better – at least they’re different.
That’s one thing I learned from this UNH story about Andy Fast, Extension state specialist for the forest industry, who’s trying to revive coopering (making barrels) to add the craft brewery/distillery business.
(Differences he found) have led him to register a certification mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to label New England white oak and market to local beverage producers as well as producers beyond New England. In fact, he has already shipped some certified New England white oak to Ohio. The driving force behind this effort is to increase the value of New England casks so the cooperage industry can sustainably reestablish itself.
He has also tested other species of wood.
Students ages 21 and over who are minoring in brewing sampled beer from the small containers made from different species and discussed their unique flavor profiles. Cheryl Parker, who oversees the UNH brewing program, invited head brewers from local commercial breweries to also weigh in with their tasting notes and commentary on possible pairings. Anecdotally, beech seemed like the best alternative to white oak.
Oh no – don’t tell me that the “beechwood aging” I’ve joked about from Bud commercials is actually a thing!