Author Topic: Wood aging (other than oak)  (Read 4415 times)

Offline tschmidlin

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Wood aging (other than oak)
« on: August 14, 2010, 04:58:14 PM »
Is anyone doing any kind of wood aging with wood other than oak?  I'm interested in playing with aging my beers with different kinds of woods.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2010, 06:54:05 PM »
Just Hungarian oak for me so far.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2010, 09:05:11 PM »
Do you like retsina? You could use knotty pine.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2010, 09:51:25 PM »
Do you like retsina? You could use knotty pine.
I've never even heard of retsina - I had to look it up to make sure it wasn't some type of illness you get from ingesting knotty pine :)

Is it the kind of thing I'll be able to find in a standard wine place (grocery stores here) or more likely in a wine shop?  Or do I need to go to a Greek specialty food shop or restaurant?  I more or less live in Seattle and there isn't a huge Greek population here, but this town is big enough to have some place that carries it, if nothing else some Greek restaurants.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2010, 10:03:03 PM »
I think a large wine shop or a Greek restaurant.  A friend ordered it once when he meant to get ouzo.  Big mistake.

I was kidding about the knotty pine. I think retsina tastes like turpentine but I think that's part of its "charm."

Seriously, maybe alder or cedar? Did you try that specialty beer at the NHC that tasted like grapefruit and cedar in an IPA? That was really interesting. Figured alder would be something common in your area and that was often used with food.

Never used any of those, though.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010, 11:41:43 PM »
I judged a cedar IPA at NHC that was fantastic, I don't know if it's the same beer you're referring to - aged with humidor wood from Cigar City Brewing.  Really a great beer.  A friend of mine does one with Spanish Cedar (same as used in humidors AFAIK) that is really nice.  I picked some up from the a specialty lumber shop and will be aging some of the APA I just made on it.  My buddy hasn't tried it toasted, so I'm going to toast some and see what it smells like, then maybe put it in the beer.  But I'll be using the fresh stuff for sure.

Alder is an interesting idea, I love alder smoked food but don't know that I've ever had anything with alder any other way.  I have some madrona from a tree that was knocked over in a storm, I haven't tried that yet but plan to.  I also have some apple and plum from trees in my yard, but haven't tried aging with those yet either.

Alder . . . I like it, I'm pretty sure I have some alder chips I could toast, if not I can find some easily enough.  Thanks Gordon.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline jeffy

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2010, 06:38:23 AM »
Interesting note about the Spanish cedar-aged IPA that won the gold at NHC.  Cigar City in Tampa won the gold with their version (called Humidor IPA) at GABF last year.  The room-mate or friend of the homebrewer who won at NHC was visiting Tampa earlier this year and the brewers gave him some of their cedar spirals to take home with him.  So both pro and homebrew versions were from the same wood source.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2010, 06:41:20 AM »
Yeah, that's the one.  I thought you might have judged it.  I tasted it in the first round.  Very unique.  That one won, didn't it?  If so, the recipe should be in an upcoming Zymurgy.  I just remember the cedar in combination with the grapefruity hops was a very interesting choice.

I'm not sure how you'd treat the wood before aging.  Run it through a planer to get fresh wood exposed, then bake it or toast it in the oven?

Getting the right combination of wood and toast level certainly would take some experimentation, and would make a great side-by-side experiment.  Also the contact time matters since you don't want any wood character to dominate.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline bluesman

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2010, 07:12:29 AM »
I have a RIS that I used Hungarian Oak cubes to infuse some flavor.  It's been in the secondary for about 2 months now and has a real nice flavor going.  I'm planning to leave it in the secondary for another month or two before I bottle.  I think the flavor will age out to some degree. 

Gordon,  what is your experience with duration to oak and how does it age out?
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2010, 08:36:27 AM »
I don't use oak very much, probably more with meads than with beers.  I like Hungarian medium and medium-plus toasts.  I do it to taste.  How fast the flavor develops is based on how much you use (total surface area) and how long it is in (contact time), as well as the age and condition of the wood.  No firm rules, but I like to go slow with it.

As far as the flavor aging out, the oak flavor is fairly persistent but the tannins can smooth and mellow with time.  It can take years, though.  Think big red wines, like from Bordeaux.  I think the beer flavors tend to fade first, so unless you go super-big with the beer, I'd avoid over-shooting on the oak.

It's a tough thing to match, but I think if you can assess how long it will be before the base beer peaks, then you have an idea of the level of oak to apply. Sometimes I'll make big beers overly bitter on purpose, with the intent that they will come into balance in 2-3 years, for instance.  Remember that if you think the oak character is insufficient, you can always add more later.

If you go too far, you might try fining the beer with something that attracts tannins, like Polyclar, and see if that helps.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline jeffy

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2010, 09:32:28 AM »
Quote
I'm not sure how you'd treat the wood before aging.  Run it through a planer to get fresh wood exposed, then bake it or toast it in the oven?
You can buy spirals of different types of wood and hang them in the fermenter, taste testing occasionally until you get what you're after.  Search for "infusion spirals"
To be safe you could heat it in the oven at pasteurization temps.  I do that with my pepper additions just to be safe.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2010, 10:19:56 AM »
Yeah, that's the one.  I thought you might have judged it.  I tasted it in the first round.  Very unique.  That one won, didn't it?  If so, the recipe should be in an upcoming Zymurgy.  I just remember the cedar in combination with the grapefruity hops was a very interesting choice.

I'm not sure how you'd treat the wood before aging.  Run it through a planer to get fresh wood exposed, then bake it or toast it in the oven?

Getting the right combination of wood and toast level certainly would take some experimentation, and would make a great side-by-side experiment.  Also the contact time matters since you don't want any wood character to dominate.
For the fresh stuff, I'll expose fresh wood with a chop saw and throw it in.  My friend who does the spanish cedar beer says he does it for 3 days.  It is noticeable in his beer, but not as strong as the one from NHC.  I think I'm going to go for more impact, but I'll taste every day just in case. :)  The stuff is so aromatic, you can smell the one piece I have (about 12x8x3/4) when you walk into the garage.

For toasting, I was going to do it on the grill first to keep the smell outside just in case.  If it's good, then I'll do some more controlled toasting in the oven.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline etbrew

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2010, 01:52:29 PM »
This is a question I had as well because I have an abundance of wood I use for smoking (apple, hickory, and maple) that I was thinking of using like I would oak.  Any thoughts on those woods?

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2010, 02:36:12 PM »
I'd say if you can use it for smoking you can use it for wood aging.  You might not get much flavor our of it, then again you might.  I think it will depend on the wood, and if you toast it to varying degrees.  Give it a try and let us know.

The cedar one I made turned out great.  3-5 days was a good range, letting it go for a few weeks was not.  I had thought the chunks were suspended high enough to be out of the beer after the first weekend, but I was wrong.  I plan to try diluting it with the same beer to see if it is just a matter of too much cedar giving it a bad taste, or if the prolonged contact time extracted something less than pleasant.
Tom Schmidlin

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Re: Wood aging (other than oak)
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2010, 05:11:57 PM »
You could try getting some palo santo wood like Dogfish Head uses for their Palo Santo Marron.  Though to me it is fairly reminiscent of cedar in the finished beer.  I have not had any cedar infused beers t o compare it with though.
Dave Brush