Author Topic: age of Oak  (Read 1640 times)

Offline scrap iron

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age of Oak
« on: December 05, 2014, 03:08:10 PM »
I've been studying up on using oak in beers and am ready to try it in a upcoming Baltic Porter. I live on 40 acres of trees, mostly White & Red Oak with some Hickory. If I want to use some of my own wood do I use fresh cut or should it be aged some first? Have been searching online and have not found what barrel makers do. Also do I use the wood untreated or maybe toast it first? I know it might be simpler to buy some but I like to do things on my own. 
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 03:20:16 PM »
Wood cut for barrels has been dried for some time (I want to say a couple years) much like wood used for smoking. It is usually toasted on the inside over a fire during the barrel-making process to caramelize some of the sugars in the wood. That can range from a light toast to quite charred. The oak chips and cubes at your LHBS will give you a good idea of the range of toasting used on oak. The heavier char is typically used with spirits because the carbon acts as a filter. The range of toast will also produce different flavors.
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Offline scrap iron

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 03:59:25 PM »
Thanks for the quick reply,I sold some trees two years ago. They cut off the tops and just take the main trunks. Sounds like the tops can be used. I think I'll cut up some chunks and lightly toast them and soak some in Jameson Irish Whiskey I have on hand. Any thoughts or other advise is appreciated. 
Mike F.                                                                               "I am what I am and that's all that I am" Popeye the sailor

Offline 1vertical

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 04:21:53 PM »
Just little snippits of information when reading several cooperage sites. 
2-3 years of aging looks to be the time needed.
Bake your wood at 800 degrees....seems like some of these temps may be difficult
to reach and sustain imo. But use the search term cooper  or cooperage for more info.

http://www.voxmagazine.com/2014/09/a-k-cooperage-at-coopers-oak-winery/
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Offline David Lester

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 05:39:05 PM »
Why go through the trouble of doing this yourself when the homebrew shop has oak cubes that work perfect for a couple dollars?


Your thoughts?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 06:00:31 PM »
Why go through the trouble of doing this yourself when the homebrew shop has oak cubes that work perfect for a couple dollars?


Your thoughts?

sometimes it's about the process more than the price. I malt my own grain on occasion not because it's cheaper (although it is) or easier (it isn't), or even better (maybe maybe not), but because to have that kind of involvement in the process is fun.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 06:16:01 PM »
Why go through the trouble of doing this yourself when the homebrew shop has oak cubes that work perfect for a couple dollars?


Your thoughts?

sometimes it's about the process more than the price. I malt my own grain on occasion not because it's cheaper (although it is) or easier (it isn't), or even better (maybe maybe not), but because to have that kind of involvement in the process is fun.
+1 - Sometimes the point of going through all the trouble yourself is just to go through all the trouble yourself. I often enjoy brewing beer even more than I enjoy drinking it, that's why it's such a great hobby for me.
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 07:13:03 PM »
Why go through the trouble of doing this yourself when the homebrew shop has oak cubes that work perfect for a couple dollars?


Your thoughts?

sometimes it's about the process more than the price. I malt my own grain on occasion not because it's cheaper (although it is) or easier (it isn't), or even better (maybe maybe not), but because to have that kind of involvement in the process is fun.
+1 - Sometimes the point of going through all the trouble yourself is just to go through all the trouble yourself. I often enjoy brewing beer even more than I enjoy drinking it, that's why it's such a great hobby for me.
Stores in nearly every town sell beer for a couple of dollars.  ;D
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 07:15:11 PM »
Thanks for the quick reply,I sold some trees two years ago. They cut off the tops and just take the main trunks. Sounds like the tops can be used. I think I'll cut up some chunks and lightly toast them and soak some in Jameson Irish Whiskey I have on hand. Any thoughts or other advise is appreciated.
Somebody did this and wrote about it in their book. Randy Mosher I think? Charred an oak dowel with a blowtorch and put it in a bottle of bourbon.

White oak is always used for barrels because it is watertight, red oak is not.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 07:19:15 PM by Jimmy K »
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2014, 04:40:46 PM »
Thanks for the quick reply,I sold some trees two years ago. They cut off the tops and just take the main trunks. Sounds like the tops can be used. I think I'll cut up some chunks and lightly toast them and soak some in Jameson Irish Whiskey I have on hand. Any thoughts or other advise is appreciated.

I'd shoot for trying to cut blocks roughly the same thickness as barrel staves so you can mimic the depth of oak. There is info online about ways to char or toast the wood with either a blow torch or in your oven to get roughly the same effect as what cooperages do with fire. I would then put the oak in white whiskey with a high proof. The higher proof will extract oak flavors better and you won't have to worry about the whiskey having artificial color or flavor compounds.
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Offline scrap iron

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2014, 01:40:48 AM »
I was also thinking about stave size pieces cut to fit in a mason jar and drilling holes in them.Toast with a torch,to a little darker shade. Then soaking in the Irish Whiskey, it's not too dark. Or maybe Vodka would be better, no color or flavor. As for buying at LHBS, I can see why alot of people would do that. I'm just an Old school Old Man.  ;) Thanks all for the link and ideas.
Mike F.                                                                               "I am what I am and that's all that I am" Popeye the sailor

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2014, 04:46:31 AM »
I would then put the oak in white whiskey with a high proof. The higher proof will extract oak flavors better and you won't have to worry about the whiskey having artificial color or flavor compounds.

I haven't yet tasted a white whiskey that I want to taste twice. I've tried to age some on chips but it just tastes nasty plus oak.  There are a lot of white whiskeys out there, though, so at least one of them must not be nasty.

Whatever liquor you use, be sure you like it and would drink it on its own.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2014, 04:21:17 PM »
I would then put the oak in white whiskey with a high proof. The higher proof will extract oak flavors better and you won't have to worry about the whiskey having artificial color or flavor compounds.

I haven't yet tasted a white whiskey that I want to taste twice. I've tried to age some on chips but it just tastes nasty plus oak.  There are a lot of white whiskeys out there, though, so at least one of them must not be nasty.

Whatever liquor you use, be sure you like it and would drink it on its own.

Well of all the liquors I've aged on oak the number that tasted good on their own has been quite low. A lot of that is due to the overwhelming volume of oak flavor and tannins. I'm not shooting for something I want to sip though. I need it to taste right when diluted in a large volume of beer. If I wanted to be able to drink it straight and I used a white whiskey then I'd use a heck of a lot less oak and dilute with water so it is closer to the proof of a bourbon.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: age of Oak
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2014, 04:33:01 PM »
If I wanted to be able to drink it straight and I used a white whiskey then I'd use a heck of a lot less oak and dilute with water so it is closer to the proof of a bourbon.

Agreed.  I have tried a pint or so of white whiskey with two, maybe three, chips to see if the oak and tannins will temper the flavors I don't like.  They haven't, but that amount of oak also hasn't been overwhelming.

There's a lot of white whiskey out there, some must be good and some people enjoy it so don't take my experience as universal.

My point is only to be sure you like the liquor you're using if you're going to add it to beer you plan to drink.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton