Author Topic: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"  (Read 3368 times)

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« on: May 13, 2010, 08:29:56 AM »
I LOVE big beers aged in oak, especially when the brewer has put some thought into the type and origin of the barrel.

I'd like to experiment with "barrel aging" by splitting batches of RIS, Grand Cru, barleywine, etc. and aging them on oak cubes soaked in different spirits (wine, port, distilled liquors).

Please post all experiences (good, bad, or indifferent) with different types of oak cubes, soaking media, and pairings with big beer styles - I want to use your suggestions as a starting point for experimentations.

Great ideas may be rewarded with samples of the finished product!
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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 11:00:55 PM »
I've had a Bourbon Porter that was conditioned in a used barrel by a local club member. It was a very well made brew. The Bourbon really came away in the nose- it was just like sniffing a glass of the stuff and I could certainly taste the whiskey. A bit overwhelming even for the Porter so maybe this is something to watch out for. I think it had been in the barrel for two weeks at that point.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 09:35:23 AM »
I have an RIS on medium toast Hungarian oak cubes right now.  Been there for two weeks.  Haven't tasted it yet, but will let you know what I think when I do.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2010, 10:50:26 AM »
Anyone? Bueler?

I think I'm going with Knob Creek for my RIS. I was thinking of doing an Imperial Porter on Port...
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Offline pyrite

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 11:24:33 AM »
I soaked 2 oz of heavy toasted French oak cubes in a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey, and added them to a medium bodied, dark DoppleBock.  The combination of whiskey soaked cubes was too over powering for this style of beer. I would not do this again unless the Dopple Bock was full bodied and had a complex malt bill/character.  I think oak cubes soaked in a spirit would better complement full-bodied complex/roasty winter type lagers or ales of that type. 

I also think I prefer Bourbon soaked cubes over Whiskey soaked cubes, but that is a personal preference. 

Just a side note from my experience:  using a strainer, strain the oak cubes from the spirit you soak them in.  Too much spirit carried over into the beer is often overpowering.   
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2010, 12:53:48 PM »
IMHO,
while you can soak cubes/chips (I have), you have more control by oaking to taste, and then adding bourbon (or other) to taste.

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Offline richardt

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2010, 05:54:24 PM »
IMHO,
while you can soak cubes/chips (I have), you have more control by oaking to taste, and then adding bourbon (or other) to taste.

Fred

That is a great pearl of wisdom.

I have often heard other wood- and barrel-aged brewers comment that they'd like more wood flavoring in their beers, but nearly all have lamented on how a fresh bourbon or whiskey barrel just imparts too much spirit flavor into the beer too quickly.

Separating the two allows more contact time for the wood character to develop in the beer, and judicious additions of the booze to limit its character.

I highly recommend this technique with Belgian Dark Strong.  It is outstanding!

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2010, 09:50:23 PM »
Trying to think.. what have I done?

Bourbon - Ten High, Maker's.. didn't really find an appreciable difference between the two, particularly over time of aging
Rum - Captain Morgans, Mount Gay, about to do Zaya (almost a waste, but still)
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2010, 04:27:42 PM »
My current and 1st harvest from a Hungarian oak that had red wine (fresh dumped) really
went well with the Hermann Holtrop rochefort recipe....

I then added cherries and anxiously await the result of that....

But I really think that is a good combo...

Q....would this post be better in the Wood/ Cask child board?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 04:30:28 PM by 1vertical »
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Offline ryang

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2010, 08:37:39 PM »
I have done this exact experiment.  I brewed a somewhat bigger than normal oatmeal stout (1.075) and after primary split off into 3 1-gallon jugs and bottled the other two gallons.  All oak cubes were American oak medium toast.  All 1-gallon jugs were bottle conditioned w/ 0.75oz corn sugar.  All 1-gallon jugs sat on the liquor soaked oak for just shy of 4 months.

The first 1-gallon jug was "bourbon barrel".  1oz Ancient Age KY bourbon whiskey w/ 0.5oz oak cubes (oak and bourbon soaked for 2 weeks prior to adding to beer).  Final gravity 1.017

The second 1-gallon jug was "Port Barrel".  1oz Tawny Port (wanted more nutty than fruity) with 0.5oz oak cubes (oak and port soaked for 2 weeks prior to adding to beer).  Final gravity 1.016

The last 1-gallon jug was "Rum Barrel".  1oz Meyers Dark Rum with 0.5oz oak cubes (oak and rum soaked for 2 weeks prior to adding to beer.  Final gravity 1.015

It was a great experiment to really see what the different liquors do to the finished beer.  In my opinion, and the general consensus was that the bourbon was the best, then rum, then port.  Even the tawny port lent a bit too fruity flavors for the stout.  The rum really put a lot of raisin flavor through which went surprisingly well with the stout, but the bourbon went very well together with the stout.  All had a present but not overwhelming amount of oak.  Just about right in my book for oakiness.  I would encourage you to just take a leap and try it out.  It really is amazing to see what the base beer transforms into after having it condition on various liquors.

RyanG
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2010, 07:02:33 AM »
IMHO,
while you can soak cubes/chips (I have), you have more control by oaking to taste, and then adding bourbon (or other) to taste.

Fred

Guess I never thought of that... but a great idea!

How do you sanitize the oak? Or do you have to?
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Offline pyrite

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2010, 08:16:51 AM »
I've never felt the need to sanitize the oak cubes, you can just drop them right in.  Many times I've added oak cubes and have let them age for many, many months with no problems.
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Offline The Professor

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2010, 09:46:49 AM »
I've never felt the need to sanitize the oak cubes, you can just drop them right in.  Many times I've added oak cubes and have let them age for many, many months with no problems.

Right...you probably don't need to sanitze them, especially if they've been whiskey soaked.  If not soaked, and if it makes you feel more secure, you could steam the chips or cubes or even stick them in the oven.

I'd be more worried about contact time.  I've tasted a lot of potentially great beers pretty much ruined by too much oak (especially where American Oak is used).
Of course, that threshold is something you have to determine for yourself by frequent tasting during the aging process.  For me, the big beers are so complex on their own that while some oak character can add a nice dimension to the beer, too much oak can easily overpower the other flavor subtleties happening in the background.
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Offline pyrite

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2010, 10:08:46 AM »
I've never felt the need to sanitize the oak cubes, you can just drop them right in.  Many times I've added oak cubes and have let them age for many, many months with no problems.

Right...you probably don't need to sanitze them, especially if they've been whiskey soaked.  If not soaked, and if it makes you feel more secure, you could steam the chips or cubes or even stick them in the oven.

I'd be more worried about contact time.  I've tasted a lot of potentially great beers pretty much ruined by too much oak (especially where American Oak is used).
Of course, that threshold is something you have to determine for yourself by frequent tasting during the aging process.  For me, the big beers are so complex on their own that while some oak character can add a nice dimension to the beer, too much oak can easily overpower the other flavor subtleties happening in the background.

Contact time is so hard for me to determine.  I take samples out of my oak barrels and the oak flavor is strong so I say okay it's time to rack off  the oak and into bottles, but when I taste the beer out of the bottle the oak goes away.   
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Pairing oak/liquor types with beers for "barrel-aging"
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2010, 07:32:20 PM »
Bourbon - Ten High, Maker's.. didn't really find an appreciable difference between the two, particularly over time of aging

Haha, really no difference?

If so... I'm going to follow through on that "Old Grandad" Oaked English Barleywine...
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