Author Topic: Oak an English IPA??  (Read 680 times)

Offline evandy

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Oak an English IPA??
« on: January 17, 2014, 03:41:35 PM »
I just put an English IPA into the fermenter, and am trying decide whether or not to oak it.  I haven't oaked a beer before, but I got an oak spiral to try and help an old ale that's a little flat.  I'm thinking about breaking off a piece and trying it in the IPA.   Any thoughts/suggestions?

Recipe makes 5.5 gal in the fermenter...
1 lbs Amber (Crisp) (27.5 SRM) Grain 1 9.5 %
8.0 oz Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 2 4.8 %
8.0 oz Crystal Dark - 77L (Crisp) (75.0 SRM) Grain 3 4.8 %
8.0 oz Crystal Extra Dark - 120L (Crisp) (120.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.8 %
8.0 oz Special Roast (Briess) (50.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.8 %
7 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry
Extract 6 66.7 %
8.0 oz Wheat Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry
Extract 7 4.8 %
1.50 oz Challenger [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 36.5 IBUs
1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 4.4 IBUs
1.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs

It's fermenting with repitched Wyeast 1768 (English Special Bitter Ale), one of the recent private-collection yeasts.  The yeast's first batch was a best bitter.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 03:49:55 PM »
I'd wait until it's done and you taste it before you decide.

I'm currently oaking an old ale, but I was not 100% happy with the results after fermentation and decided to split the 5 gallons and do some experiments.

If it tastes good when it's done, don't mess with it.  Or split it and oak half to see what the difference is.  Since you haven't oaked before, this might be the way to go.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline evandy

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 04:13:25 PM »
Oh, sure, give me the reasonable sensible advice!

Just remembered to go grab a couple drops for the refractometer....  21 brix.  BeerSmith said I should come in around 1.078; looks like the steeping grains mashed well anyways.  With only 42 IBUs, hopefully I don't wish that I'd added another ounce of challenger.  I did add some gypsum to my water as well, since I usually have trouble getting a good firm bitterness.

I suppose I can always track down some hop extract to add after fermentation if I need it.....

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 05:54:13 PM »
I haven't oaked and IPA, only a porter. Seemed to tone down the roastiness. I'm curious what it would do to an IPA. Might give it a traditional feel. Hmmm, cool idea.

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2014, 06:39:19 PM »
Quite a few breweries are oaking IPAs.  Dogfish Head Burton Baton is an oaked IPA and i find it quite tasty.  Its very traditional for the style.  It definitely tones down the hop aroma and bitterness tho it seems.
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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2014, 04:32:32 PM »
This is probably just me but I can honestly say every time I ever oaked a beer with cubes or chips it always tasted less sessionable with than without. Now, barrel aging - different story altogether. But I'm pretty sure I'm done oaking beers for the most part, with a few experimental exceptions.

Toasted and charred cherry wood on the other hand ... very nice, though subtle.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 11:51:02 AM »
This is probably just me but I can honestly say every time I ever oaked a beer with cubes or chips it always tasted less sessionable with than without. Now, barrel aging - different story altogether. But I'm pretty sure I'm done oaking beers for the most part, with a few experimental exceptions.

+1 - although I'm still going to be brewing an IPA with Red Zin-soaked oak cubes later this spring. But I plan on putting the cubes through a solid boil before I start to soak them.

I find a lot of beers are just overoaked and you end up tasting a big tannic, woody/sawdust flavor. While I don't necessarily dislike it, it definitely affects the drinkability of the beers involved. For example, I really like oaked Arrogant Bastard - but my limit is one in a session. Regular AB I can kick back one after another.
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Offline evandy

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2014, 07:56:59 PM »
Well, the beer finished fermenting a couple days ago, and I just transferred it to the keg.  Fermentation went really well; I was lazy and pitched it on the full yeast cake from a best bitter instead of washing the yeast, so it took off fast.  Started at 1.086 and went down to 1.027, which is 7.8% but only about 66% attenuation.  The yeast says 68-72%AA, so I guess it's not too far off.

Only problem right now is that it seems a little sweet.  The Bitter predecessor tasted similarly out of the fermenter, but when it finished carbing the acidity was just right to balance out everything.  Still, it's only calculated at 42 IBUs... I think I'll probably up the bittering addition next time.  Malt balance tastes great; it should be a tasty beer, at least.  If needed, maybe I'll grab some of the IsoHop extract from MoreBeer or somewhere and add it to bring up the bitterness.   At least I have options if I need them.

After it's carbonated and ready I'll see about oaking it.  If nothing else, I may pull off a quart or so and oak that just to see how it does.

Offline evandy

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2014, 08:13:49 PM »
Just threw my Hydrometer in some tap water.  Not 100% definitive, but it looks like it's reading about 4-5 points high.  Dropping FG down to 1.025 (conservatively) gives me 70% AA, which is right down the middle for this yeast.  OG was measured with my refractometer, so that should be pretty spot on.

Offline kramerog

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Re: Oak an English IPA??
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2014, 08:26:57 PM »
A little oak may boost the bitterness to balance the sweetness.  I'm not a big fan of oak but some tannins can help the balance.

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