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Other than bourbon chips.....

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gtsmith1:
Hello there,

Being my first post here I'll start out with an interesting one.  I have been brewing about 2 years now and in this time have acquired a position working for an alcohol distributor.  Thus, I began thinking more about soaking oak chips in spirits other than bourbon.  With that, I have a few questions:

1.  What is the best way to use chips to get an authentic barrel-aged feel?  I've been aging some oak chips in different liquors for a while now but do not want to just dump in liquor-soaked chips.  To me that seems like it's just the same as pouring in liquor and adding oak.  I was thinking of trying to dry them first, sterilize them somehow, and then add them.

2.  Has anyone tried using liquor other than bourbon?

3.  I was thinking of trying this in moderation with a belgian-style pale ale (as opposed to the traditional imperial stout that gets all the wood attention)...thoughts?

Cheers,

dbeechum:
Hey, so thinking about things. Use beans not chips, much better.

1) The barrels used by brewers are typically sold "wet" so there's still a ton of spirit in the barrel and in the wood itself, so drying the chips/beans wouldn't be a fair replication of what's going on in the brewery.

2) Scotch, Rum and on hte non-spiritous side port, chardonnay and pinot noir. The spirits have all been aging for about 3 years. The wines are about 2.

3) Sure, but as with anything where you're going softer and subtler on your style, you'll need a much finer hand with your oak. I've done plenty of lower gravity beers with the oak and where you can usually pull a strong beer after a few weeks, you need to stay on it and check every few days since it's not a thick line between "interestingly oaky" and "I'm chewing on a 2x4"

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