At the beginning of this year, 10 Barrel Brewing Company introduced Tiny Haus, its innovation pilot brewery (or “brewery within a brewery” as the company described it) headed up by R&D Brewmaster Tonya Cornett. It allows the brewers creative leeway in developing limited edition, small batch beers that might not otherwise see distribution.

Tiny Haus beers released so far include a Japanese rice lager, two specialty hazy IPAs, and a dessert-inspired sour ale. The latest is Soul Candy, an imperial pastry stout conditioned on Brazilian Amburana wood, and infused with flavors of gingerbread and holiday baking spices. But there’s a twist; no actual spices were added to achieve these seasonal flavors.

“The vanilla, cinnamon, rustic cocoa and warm spices are achieved entirely by aging on the Amburana wood,” said Cornett via email.

Most beer drinkers are familiar with wood-aged beers, and in most cases, oak is the wood used for conditioning. Oak by itself is fairly neutral, though depending on the variety, it can lend rich, distinctive characteristics to brews that can include spice, vanilla, caramel, or even smoke.

For additional complexity, brewers often turn to second-use oak barrels — those that previously held spirits or wine — or oak chips or spirals soaked in various spirits for the same effect.

Compared to oak, Amburana is an exotic, intensely spicy wood that offers the flavors and aromatics of baked goods. Native to South America, Amburana is primarily used for lumber, though barrels are used to age cachaça, a rum-like spirit distilled from sugarcane. And Brazilian craft brewers have been working with it for a number of years.

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It’s been making limited inroads with American breweries as well, including Deschutes Brewery, which released Cubed Amburana earlier this year, a special Reserve Club bottling of its Black Butte Cubed aged in the wood.

At 10 Barrel, Soul Candy is the second beer Cornett crafted and conditioned with Amburana. “I have been trying to get my hands on a wooden cask for the past four years,” said Cornett. “Finally, I was able to locate a company that sold it as wood spirals.” The first beer was Small Moments, a barrel-aged English strong ale released this summer. She’s happy with the character Amburana contributes, noting, “the results have been incredible.”

It doesn’t take long for the Amburana to work its magic. “The beer was aged on the wooden spirals for only a few days to extract the beautiful flavors,” she said.

Soul Candy is 9.5% alcohol by volume with 30 IBUs, and it pours an inky, dark cola brown color. The aroma oozes gingerbread character, with warming notes of cinnamon and ginger, with baking chocolate, molasses and caramel providing rich and roasty support. It tastes sweet and spicy, with flavors of treacle (unrefined dark molasses) and chocolate syrup, and the warming heat of Vietnamese cinnamon and fresh ginger root blooming at the back of the throat. There’s a savory note likely from the wood that I find contributes a bit of a cedar-like pungency. The imperial stout underpinning it all is rich and roasty, with a light touch of alcohol and honey.

The overall experience is very much an impression of “holiday baking” and will have you wishing for gingerbread and cookies.

Fans of seasonally flavored as well as wood-aged beers should explore this latest Tiny Haus offering from 10 Barrel. It would be a fun beer to pair with Christmas cookies — but don’t wait, as it’s a limited offering that may not last long, available only at the Bend pubs.

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Jon Abernathy is a beer writer and blogger and launched The Brew Site ( in 2004. He can be reached at

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