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Old 11-19-2007, 08:37 PM   #1
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Default My first experience using oak chips w/bourbon

Hi all,
I just wanted to share my experience to try and help others in the future.
I was making a rough Oaked Arrogant Bastard style batch (more that "theme" than exactly that recipe by any means). In the secondary, I added a full couple oz packet of medium toast oak cubes (maybe 25+ little cubes) that had been soaking in Maker's Mark for a month in a jar. I did NOT dump in much of the residual bourbon at all. I let this rest (with the aroma hops that were also added) for a month, and then bottled. The bottles sat for two weeks and I tried my first one a week or so ago. I'll say, not bad...definitely interesting, BUT, I'd also say OVER bourbony. Almost a burn when you drink it. I'd cut the oak chips in half next time, or maybe only soak half of them. Sort of a shame that it's overpowering the brew's flavor. The color is a beautiful red dark amber, very close to the Oaked Bastard, and it's wonderfully crystal clear. My only hope is if I let these puppies sit for 6 months or more that they mellow and smooth out, so it's not quite the bourbon punch it is right now.
Just FYI, the base for this brew was Pacific Brewing Co's Blue Whale Ale kit.

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Old 11-19-2007, 08:45 PM   #2
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Ironicly, i was just ordering supplies for a porter with oak and burbon. Either oak aged burbon porter or oak aged vanilla porter, not sure about the vanilla yet. I just did an oak aged american wheat with merlot grapes. Its in the seconday now but looks like its going to turn out good. How many ounces of oak did you add, and roughly how much burbon did you add. I was looking at adding a pint of burbon to the porter.

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Old 11-20-2007, 01:42 AM   #3
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I have bourboned a beer before. The over-bourbon flavor subsides over time. Just give it time.

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Old 11-20-2007, 01:46 AM   #4
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I did an old ale with 1 oz of cubes and 8 oz of bourbon. I let it sit for a month and added to the secondary. I thought it turned out perfect. I let it sit for 2 months before trying it and it got better with every week until it was gone. I don't think you've let it sit long enough.

On mine, I even got compliments from girls that typically drink lite. It was SMOOTH!

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Old 02-01-2011, 08:12 PM   #5
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So if I were to want to use chips and bourbon for a beer that was supposed to be ready in say 2 months, (friends party) I would want to add less bourbon but let it sit longer before bottling? (less punch but more permeation?)

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Old 02-01-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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So if I were to want to use chips and bourbon for a beer that was supposed to be ready in say 2 months, (friends party) I would want to add less bourbon but let it sit longer before bottling? (less punch but more permeation?)
Well, it'll be pretty intense for a while with both the tannins from the oak, and also a "hot" flavor from the bourbon. It you must have it ready in two months, I'd suggest 1/2 as much oak and bourbon as you would normally use.

I used 1 ounce of oak in a three gallon batch with about 6 ounces of bourbon for two weeks, then racked off of the oak and bottled. It was wonderful about 5-6 months after bottling. The first two-three months, not so much.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:38 PM   #7
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So if i were to use the same amount in a 5 gallon batch (its a chocolate milk stout) - and only leave it for a week, do you think it should be ok in 2 months? Sorry I'm still rather a new to the whole brewing thing. (this is only my second batch)

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Old 02-01-2011, 08:43 PM   #8
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So if i were to use the same amount in a 5 gallon batch (its a chocolate milk stout) - and only leave it for a week, do you think it should be ok in 2 months? Sorry I'm still rather a new to the whole brewing thing. (this is only my second batch)
Chocolate milk stout with oak and bourbon? Seriously? That's a whole lot going on there, and it sounds awful. Milk stout is sweet and roasty, chocolate is bitter, and that can be ok together if you like it (I HATE chocolate). Chocolate milk stouts might be ok. But adding oak? And bourbon? To a sweet stout? I'd double check the source of the recipe, and seriously reconsider.

But no, it wouldn't be ready in two months because of the time it would take to meld all those flavors. Oak is tannic and harsh, and needs some time to mellow. Bourbon can be "hot" but if you use less it might be ok.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:45 PM   #9
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I did a KBS clone and used 2oz of oak chips soaked in 1 cup of bourbon, all of which was added to the secondary fermenter. It sat in secondary for 6 months and I tried a little bit while transferring it to the keg. I'd say the oak/bourbon balance is perfect. You definitely pick up notes of each but neither is overpowering.

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Old 02-01-2011, 09:36 PM   #10
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Yooper - you're probably right about the oak, is there another way to ad bourbon flavor without the oak?

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