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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Wood/Casks => Topic started by: tschmidlin on August 11, 2010, 06:54:21 AM

Title: oak source
Post by: tschmidlin on August 11, 2010, 06:54:21 AM
I want to do some whiskey-barrel type beers without a barrel.  I plan to get some oak, char it, then soak it in some whiskey for a while.  Then I'll either move the wood to the beer, or dose the beer with the whiskey - any opinions on which is better?

But what I really want to know is, where do you get your oak?  I'm looking for American white oak, like is typically used to make barrels.  All I can find at the local big-box store is red oak, which I've read is lacking in vanillin, so would be inferior for my purposes.  Any ideas?  Specialty lumber shop?  Internet?

Title: Re: oak source
Post by: beerocd on August 11, 2010, 12:41:21 PM
You could get it HERE (http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=831)... is it just the DIY aspect of toasting your own board?
I have so far only used the chips available for wine-making available at most LHBS and online shops.
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: abraxas on August 11, 2010, 01:11:35 PM
I'd buy cubes designed for brewing/wine off the internet if your LHBS doesn't carry them.

Wine oak is seasoned outside for a few years where enzymes in lichens break down green resiny flavors and help develop other flavors before it is toasted.

Shea Comfort talks about this in some detail during the second half here:

He states that even the types of lichens/mold is important and American Oak is sometimes shipped over to France to be aged in a specific climate/lichen environment.
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: abraxas on August 11, 2010, 01:12:37 PM
Not to mention the possibility of treatment chemicals in the wood would make me a bit nervous.
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: hoser on August 11, 2010, 01:40:49 PM
What about the Jack Daniels oak chips they use for smoking?  They are essentially ground up JD oak barrels that have been used.  I believe JD only uses new oak barrels so they discard of them after they have been used.  I have used them in the past with great success.  They carry over a mild wiskey flavor to go along with the oak flavors.  Otherwise I would buy some American or French oak and soak the chips in your whiskey of choice for a couple of weeks and then toss them into your keg or secondary.  I would dose the whiskey that remains to your taste because sometimes people throw it all in there and  it throws the beer out of balance.  So be careful not to add to much whiskey or oak.  Jason Petros has a great article in a past issue of Zymurgy that explains oaking in great detail.  It is a good read if you can get your hands on it.
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: tschmidlin on August 11, 2010, 05:52:27 PM
I'm sure I have that issue of zymurgy, I just tend to run months behind in reading them.  I'll look for it, thanks.

But the main thing is that I don't want to use toasted oak like you would in wine barrels, I want to use charred oak like you do in whiskey barrels.  I could buy some toasted cubes and char them, but I'm looking for a chunk that would be easy to char on all sides as opposed to a bunch of cubes that would be done unevenly.
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: dbeechum on August 11, 2010, 05:56:02 PM
May/June 2008 Zymurgy

MoreBeer put JP's article up online since JP is one of their chief employee types up there.

Title: Re: oak source
Post by: tschmidlin on August 11, 2010, 06:01:11 PM
Thanks Drew, I'm not THAT far behind, but it saves me the trouble of having to find it in the 'read' pile.  :)
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: hoser on August 11, 2010, 08:39:22 PM
The JD chips are ground up from their used barrels so they are already charred to their standards for whiskey.  Probably medium to medium heavy toast.  You should definitely look into using them in your brew.  If you don't like them you can always use them on your grill or smoker ;D
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: tschmidlin on August 11, 2010, 09:16:36 PM
Whiskey barrels are typically charred, as in a burnt black layer is formed.  Way darker than medium heavy toast.

I picked up some white oak from Blackstock Lumber in Seattle today, the fourth place I looked.  Of course I have to bring them samples of the beer now . . .
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: abraxas on August 12, 2010, 02:39:08 AM
NB has "Heavy Toast"  cubes.  I can't see any more toast without replacing other desirable components (vanilla etc) with "char".    Cubes are toasted and then cut so you get more of the entire spectrum (like you do with a barrel).

You'll still get enough char from heavy toast cubes (think bourbon).
Title: Re: oak source
Post by: tschmidlin on August 12, 2010, 05:50:24 AM
There's a difference between toasted and charred, even heavy toast is not as dark as I want it.  I want it burnt, like a whiskey barrel.

Quote from: http://www.whiskeywise.com/whiskey-barrels.html
Bourbon Casks
The Whiskey barrels, once formed, are charred - the inside of the cask is set on fire for a short period of time, which creates a black charred layer.

There are various levels of charring which will have different affects on the spectrum of compounds and flavors the Oak will impart to the maturing spirit: more vanillins, lactones, "toastiness," spice characters, and tannins.

Charring casks causes further transformation. Char (carbon) removes sulphur compounds and immaturity from new spirit. Bourbon Whiskey barrels are typically charred for 40 seconds to 1 minute, but some distilleries have experimented with charring times of up to 3-4 minutes.

The result of charring is dramatic changes on the surface - for example, wood sugars are caramelized, which will leech into the maturing spirit.