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Old 03-12-2010, 02:18 AM   #1
poundedintouse
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Default Oak Chips.

I am going to age an ale on oak chips. I have dark french oak. I want to soak the chips in Wild Turkey Rye. Any advice on if I should soak in undiluted whisky or should I add water. How much oak chips do I use per 5 gallon batch? How long should I let the beer age on th oak chips so that the oak flavor isn't overpowering? How long should I let the chips soak in the whiskey? Any advice would be great. Thank you.

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Old 03-12-2010, 02:43 AM   #2
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To start, I'd like to give a quick disclaimer that most of what I know about this is from extensive searching before I oaked a mead, which I have not yet tried, so it is not really based on experience. However, I will try to keep it to the information that is more universal and less influenced by mead vs. beer and I will try to exclude any information that I may have heard that might have been controversial. Normally I wouldn't answer something I didn't have a little experience on, but I figure a researched answer without experience is better than no answers.

With chips it's important to control the amount of oak that you use because the flavor extraction will be quicker than with cubes. I would start with two oz. based on the numbers I've seen for cubes in mead, but when I did a quick search of oak chips on this forum some people were talking about using four oz. or more. It seems to me that an important aspect to consider is what style of beer you're oaking. If you are adding oak to a big beer that you are planning on aging a long time anyways, you can add oak incrementally and taste it until it is about where you want it. You might want to go to the maximum amount of oak flavor that you like before racking off the oak because oak flavors will age out over time.

Another reason to pay attention to the style when deciding this is because stronger flavored styles (i.e. barleywine and RIS) will need more oak for a significant flavor contribution than for example (and a very extreme example at that) an American Light Lager.

As far as the soaking in whiskey goes, most of what I read about that involves the chips being put in a cup or bowl and adding whiskey until it just barely covers them. No dilution needed. Most people soak them for 1-3 weeks it seems.

I would suggest you do a search as well because there is a lot of hidden information that might be helpful on these forums.

Last but not least, I found this when I did a quick search, and I have not yet listened to it myself, but it might be way more helpful than my post.

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/sho...-Show-07-30-07

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Old 03-12-2010, 04:59 PM   #3
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Good points above. I would add that the dark chips will bring a darker caramel, marshmellow-type thing to the beer, and it may not be the flavor you are looking for. I would recommend medium toast or medium plus at the darkest.

We have a cool article at MoreBeer that covers some basic info, it might help http://morebeer.com/content/using_oak_in_beer

Good luck!

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Old 03-12-2010, 05:10 PM   #4
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My recommendation is to start small and gain experience.

FWIW, I have only a single batch that I have oaked as my experience. I oaked the Arrogant Bastard clone from the recipe on this site.

I added 1oz of dark roast wood chips for 1 week before bottling. The oak is subtle but recognizable. I only boiled mine for 10 min to sanitize, I did not soak in any kind of spirits.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:09 PM   #5
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I used 4 oz of medium toast French oak chips in a 5 gal batch of porter.
I just dumped the bag into the carboy and racked on top.
After a week I kegged and forced carbed.
Huge vanilla and wood flavors, I really enjoyed it.
The flavors did decline and mellow a little over the 2 months it was on tap, but I couldn't bear the thought of putting some aside to age.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:16 PM   #6
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I listened to the Jamil show link I posted and two things that are definitely worth sharing with you are that he said that there's really no point in soaking your chips in whiskey from a flavor standpoint because you'll get the same flavor as if you just dump a shot or two of whiskey in and then add oak. By adding the whiskey first you can add it until you get as much whiskey flavor as you want and then oak it. However, you'll probably get a sanitizing effect from soaking, so it might be worthwhile for that reason.

Second, his recommendation for first time oak use was to start with 1-2 oz. in a five gallon batch depending on how strong of a beer you have (i.e. 1 oz. for a small porter and 2 oz. for a barleywine)

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