Author Topic: Oak Aging  (Read 692 times)

Offline lizaambler

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Oak Aging
« on: May 17, 2017, 07:38:46 AM »
Hey all - my Dad is a woodworker who cut up a bunch of 1/2"x1/2"x7" long pieces of seasoned white oak. We're talking about simulating a barrel aged beer by using these "planks" of wood. I'm just not sure how to go about it. Should I cut them up into cubes? Leave them cut the way they are? Should I toast them? If I decide to soak them in sherry or something else, so I soak them before or after toasting? I'll probably drill a hole so I can lower them down into my carboy. Thanks!

Offline kramerog

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 11:43:03 AM »
Raw oak is horribly tannic.  So definitely toast them.  This link http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2015/03/guest-post-toasting-your-own-wood-chips-by-matt-del-fiacco.html has some info on toasting.   If you soak in hard alcohol, soak after toasting.  If you want to soak in water to get tannins out (may not be necessary) soak before toasting.  An ounce or two per 5 gallons is probably all you need.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 02:28:52 PM »
Even toasted oak can give you a lot more tannins than you want.  Definitely toast it.  Sounds like you have enough to try different toast levels.  And different soaks.

When you put them in the beer, taste it after a couple days.  You can over-oak quickly.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2017, 03:16:12 PM »
Thanks much! Any ideas on how to cut it up if at all?

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2017, 05:04:34 PM »
Thanks much! Any ideas on how to cut it up if at all?

Maybe drill holes in a pattern? Surface area is important. But I believe you get different oak expression from chips and cubes. So it's up to you. Multiple batches with different oak planks?
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 02:42:47 AM »
My plan is to age in a carboy for at least 6 months. I'm thinking that a longer time with the undrilled sticks would impart a more mellow oak flavor. I don't want it to get too tannic. But, I could also drill just a FEW holes.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 04:13:56 AM »
I believe it is a lot more complex than just seasoned toasted oak. The wood needs to be cured. It can take months to years. If you ever visit a bbl yard they stack these staves several stories high in the sun and spray them down with water off and on for months. There is a book called "Wood and Beer" that I think covers some of the basics on seasoning the wood for barrels. you might look there first.

https://www.brewerspublications.com/books/wood_and_beer/
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 05:13:36 AM by majorvices »

Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 06:00:43 AM »
Dang. I was hoping it would be simpler than that.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2017, 08:13:45 AM »
Dang. I was hoping it would be simpler than that.

I may be wrong. I read the book a year or two ago I'll see if I can double check that info tonight.

Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2017, 06:54:19 AM »
Another question - if you soak the sticks in something, do you throw the sticks only in the secondary? Or the sticks AND the liquid in which they were soaking?

Offline majorvices

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2017, 08:07:38 AM »
Another question - if you soak the sticks in something, do you throw the sticks only in the secondary? Or the sticks AND the liquid in which they were soaking?

That's going to be completely up to you. Some brewers prefer it others think it leads to a  "hotnness" from added alcohol.

IMO you don't get a lot of flavor from soaking the wood in the spirits unless you add the spirits.

Offline coolman26

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 09:17:15 AM »
Another question - if you soak the sticks in something, do you throw the sticks only in the secondary? Or the sticks AND the liquid in which they were soaking?

That's going to be completely up to you. Some brewers prefer it others think it leads to a  "hotnness" from added alcohol.

IMO you don't get a lot of flavor from soaking the wood in the spirits unless you add the spirits.
I agree, I always add the soaking spirit.


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Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 01:56:16 PM »
That's sort of what I was thinking, however, I'd HATE to have spirit tasting beer when it was only meant to be an accent. I was thinking we'd do a tasting tonight with a commercial RIS that hasn't been barrel aged and see how much sherry ought to be added. THEN, I'll only add a little bit each couple of months so I don't overdo it like I did when I added a s*** load of passionfruit extract  ::)

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2017, 07:23:59 AM »
I think you have the right approach.  You can add the spirit in doses.  It will have extracted some wood flavor already, so you don't really need to add the wood directly.  The spirit may have extracted the harshest tannins from the oak, however.  I'd give it a taste to see.

You could also just add the wood for a bit, see how it comes out, and then dose with the spirit.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline lizaambler

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Re: Oak Aging
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2017, 09:18:30 AM »
Learned the hard way, I guess, about adding stuff to the secondary.

Thanks!