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BlakeL 06-19-2012 02:48 PM

Oak for Barleywine
 
What do you think would be the best type of oak for an American Barleywine. The recipe i'm using is a Bigfoot clone but is higher ABV than the original.

This is the selection I have to choose from at my LHBS:
American - Light Toast
American - Heavy Toast
French - Medium Toast
Hungarian - Medium Toast

smiller 06-19-2012 03:52 PM

I made a barleywine a few months back and used American light toast oak chips for 15 days in primary and American medium plus toast oak cubes soaked in bourbon for a couple of months in secondary. This added a bit of a smokey, savory flavor which I didn't particularly like, so I would recommend medium (with or without bourbon) if you don't want this flavor. I haven't had experience with non-American oak, but looking at your options I would probably lean toward the French medium toast oak CUBES for bulk aging in secondary, and if you want, American light oak CHIPS for a couple of weeks in primary.

BlakeL 06-19-2012 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiller (Post 4183822)
I made a barleywine a few months back and used American light toast oak chips for 15 days in primary and American medium plus toast oak cubes soaked in bourbon for a couple of months in secondary. This added a bit of a smokey, savory flavor which I didn't particularly like, so I would recommend medium (with or without bourbon) if you don't want this flavor. I haven't had experience with non-American oak, but looking at your options I would probably lean toward the French medium toast oak CUBES for bulk aging in secondary, and if you want, American light oak CHIPS for a couple of weeks in primary.

The place i'll be getting them from only has Oak chips. What is the difference between chips and cubes as far as flavor?

smiller 06-19-2012 04:07 PM

Since oak chips have more surface area and less volume to penetrate than oak cubes, they impart their flavor more quickly. You don't want to leave them in your beer for more than a couple of weeks, or you will get an overwhelming oak flavor. So, with oak chips, you generally want to use around an ounce for 2 to 2.5 weeks, whereas with oak cubes, you would use 2 to 3 ounces for 8 or more weeks. With oak cubes, your beer takes a while to totally penetrate them, and as more layers are accessed, more complex flavors are introduced to the beer.

BlakeL 06-19-2012 04:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiller (Post 4183879)
Since oak chips have more surface area and less volume to penetrate than oak cubes, they impart their flavor more quickly. You don't want to leave them in your beer for more than a couple of weeks, or you will get an overwhelming oak flavor. So, with oak chips, you generally want to use around an ounce for 2 to 2.5 weeks, whereas with oak cubes, you would use 2 to 3 ounces for 8 or more weeks. With oak cubes, your beer takes a while to totally penetrate them, and as more layers are accessed, more complex flavors are introduced to the beer.

That makes sense. Thanks for the info. I think i'll go with the French Medium Toast chips but now I need to figure out what to sanitize them with and if I want to soak them in bourbon, whiskey or wine.

BrewandWineSupply 06-19-2012 04:12 PM

Chips will throw flavor faster, ie: thiner. The cubes, being thicker will throw flavor over a longer period of time. Wine makers will use the chips in the primary fermenter and taste it to see if that is what they want flavor wise. The cubes are mostly used for the long term aging and impart the flavor slower and longer. chips for short aging, cubes for longer aging.
When it comes to beer it depends on how strong of oak flavor and how long you want to age it is up to you. this may be a type of thing where you have to make a few batches ( or break it down into 1 gallon batches) to find the taste YOU like.

smiller 06-19-2012 04:16 PM

To sanitize, put the oak chips in a small sauce pan and add enough water to cover. Then bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, and let them steam for a few minutes. Repeat this at least 3 times, then let the oak and water cool. Add both the chips and the water to your beer, as the water will contain a considerable amount of oak essence and help add flavor. To sanitize the oak cubes I used, just soaking them in bourbon for 3 weeks did the trick for me.

BlakeL 06-19-2012 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiller (Post 4183908)
To sanitize, put the oak chips in a small sauce pan and add enough water to cover. Then bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, and let them steam for a few minutes. Repeat this at least 3 times, then let the oak and water cool. Add both the chips and the water to your beer, as the water will contain a considerable amount of oak essence and help add flavor. To sanitize the oak cubes I used, just soaking them in bourbon for 3 weeks did the trick for me.

Great info. I think i'll just do boiling with water so I just get the oak flavor and nothing else.

smiller 06-19-2012 04:24 PM

I'll add that when you cover the pan, take it off heat while the oak is steaming.

BlakeL 06-19-2012 04:43 PM

Thanks for all the info smiller. I'll just be doing a 1 gallon batch so .4-.5 oz of chips I hope should be good.


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