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Smoked Oak Chips in Secondary


I am making a blended ale right now; it is my second go-around with this recipe.  It is a split batch of high gravity (1.100) worts fermented in primary with dry english and belgian yeasts.  The recipe includes crystal 90, belgian spec B and coffee malts with enough hops to balance, not compete.  The last time, I blended them together over lignum vitae/palo santo chips and shavings in secondary and it was great.  I got to thinking I'd like to try some toasted oak in this beer, and then got to thinking it might be a fun experiment to try smoking some oak chips and shavings to use.

Is this a horrible idea that will yield nothing but pain, humiliation and rejection from my regular drinkers?
Has anyone tried this, as opposed to smoking the grain?
Is there a wood I can smoke with that will impart a perceivable but not overpowering aroma/flavor to the oak?
Anything I'm missing?

Thanks, and cheers!

I don't know how successful trying to smoke the wood would be. For all of its porosity, I just don't think it would hold onto any significant portion of smoke particulate other than a surface coating.

You do however tend to get smokey flavors from heavy toasted oak chips/cubes.

But as with all things, the answer is - give it a try - in small quantities would be best. :)

Interesting in that I think of oak as a source of smoke, not a receptacle for smoke.  Rauchmalz is one of the easiest ways to get smoke into beer but it sounds like you've already brewed...I guess you could always do a very small partial mash with rauchmalz and blend a small bit of smokey wort in, but thats a lot of work. 

I imagine the wood would pick up some smoke residue, but mostly just surface crud, likely...and make sure the wood doesn't catch fire, of course!  Giving them a slight char like toasted whiskey barrels is another option but I've never considered that a genuinely smokey flavor, more something else. 

Sound input, thanks guys.  I wound up just lightly toasting the oak for this batch, after I drizzled it with some homemade vanilla extract.  I think I'll probably try smoking some oak soon, and try including it in a side fermentation with my next batch.  The real goal is not to achieve a fully smoke-flavored beer, but more to layer some subtle wood-on-wood flavors into the whole thing.  I picked oak as an ideal wood for a few reasons, namely its traditional use as an additive or vessel material, but also because the shavings provide excellent surface area as opposed to chips or cubes, while remaining tough enough to not fall apart.  We shall see.

Either way, I'll post my results as soon as i get to the smoke test.


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