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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Oak Dowel in Stopper procedure
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:07 PM   #1
yellowthere
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Default Oak Dowel in Stopper procedure

Can someone give me a quick walk through of this procedure?

I've seen pics and heard that most get the dowel from home depot or lowes and toast it themselves. This is intended to loosely simulate barrel aging (as much as possible without a barrel).

1. How do you toast it?
2. What diameter? i guess I could figure this out with some trial and error, but If someone knows that would be great. I will use reg 6 gallon carboy stopper.
3. Other advice?

Thanks guys.

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Old 05-13-2010, 07:10 PM   #2
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Default Oak Spirals

Do a search for wine making supplies - oak spirals. We use them in making wine. You just hang them in the carboy (barrel). You can get them toasted to what you like, and they have a lot more surface contact than a wooden dowel.

They also make an oak powder you can add. Australian wines use this a lot because they ferment in stainless tanks, but want the oak taste. Or you just good old chunks.

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Old 05-13-2010, 07:16 PM   #3
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The point of an oak dowel is to allow micro-oxygenation to simulate a barrel, like the OP said. As opposed to contribute oak flavor which is the point of oak powder/oak spirals.

I used a hand torch and just toasted it to sanitize it... a lot of people will toss them in the oven 350 for 30 minutes I think I have heard before. I just took a bung into home depot and did a trial and error until I found the right size (I think it might have had yellow ends?).

Make sure you submerge the dowel into the liquid at least a bit. I think this helps with the micro-oxygenation.

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Old 05-13-2010, 08:05 PM   #4
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I don't have any comparison data, and the only beer i've done this with is only 2 weeks into aging, so please keep that in mind when preparing to flame me.

I utilize an oak dowel for both flavor and oxygen, because as i understand you can get both effects from it. Regarding toasting your own:

Size - if you're going for flavor, going bigger isn't necessarily better. In the same respect a smaller cask gives MORE contact area, a larger diameter dowel will not significantly increase the contact area or oak flavor. Get a dowel to match the hole in your stopper. For mine, i chose 1/2" oak dowel from Home Depot ($2).

Toasting - check out this pic for temps/flavors.

I followed this to choose which temp to toast at. I've done multiple dowels at various temps, but have only utilized one for aging currently, so i can't comment on the impact various temps actually DO have on the flavor.

I took my dowel, fit it to my aging carboy by figuring what length i need, then cut to the appropirate length. Wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil and put it in the oven for four hours at the desired temp. Once out, take a torch or flame and char the surface of the wood for a couple minutes (though to me this seems optional). Once cool, soak the dowel in water for a couple days to take the wood-flavored edge off. Some don't do this, but it seems to me that if i'm going to let a beer age for a year in contact with the wood, i don't want harsh flavors from day one. Clean, insert in stopper, then use.

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Old 05-13-2010, 08:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cactusgarrett View Post
I don't have any comparison data, and the only beer i've done this with is only 2 weeks into aging, so please keep that in mind when preparing to flame me.

I utilize an oak dowel for both flavor and oxygen, because as i understand you can get both effects from it. Regarding toasting your own:

Size - if you're going for flavor, going bigger isn't necessarily better. In the same respect a smaller cask gives MORE contact area, a larger diameter dowel will not significantly increase the contact area or oak flavor. Get a dowel to match the hole in your stopper. For mine, i chose 1/2" oak dowel from Home Depot ($2).

Toasting - check out this pic for temps/flavors.

I followed this to choose which temp to toast at. I've done multiple dowels at various temps, but have only utilized one for aging currently, so i can't comment on the impact various temps actually DO have on the flavor.

I took my dowel, fit it to my aging carboy by figuring what length i need, then cut to the appropirate length. Wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil and put it in the oven for four hours at the desired temp. Once out, take a torch or flame and char the surface of the wood for a couple minutes (though to me this seems optional). Once cool, soak the dowel in water for a couple days to take the wood-flavored edge off. Some don't do this, but it seems to me that if i'm going to let a beer age for a year in contact with the wood, i don't want harsh flavors from day one. Clean, insert in stopper, then use.
I haven't seen too many flamers in this forum, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wow, nice chart. Thanks for all the info. I can definitely see why you soak the dowel in water for some time, I would be concerned about sanitation if it was just normal water. I might use the oven to toast, and flame it like you say, then find a big enough pan and boil it in water in the oven for some time, pour off all the strong oak flavor water, and maybe pan boil it again to get rid of more oak flavors. This way might create more of a neutral oak flavor, which is what I'm going for.

Thanks again for the info, that is great stuff.
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Old 05-13-2010, 09:31 PM   #6
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Just a note with regard to size. A smaller cask has more surface area per unit volume of beer because it surrounds the entire volume. A dowel submerged in beer will have surface area exposed to the beer that increases linearly with the raidus of the dowel.
Bigger dowel = more surface area in contact with beer. I'm not making claims as to wether or not this will be perceptible to the palate, but there is definitely more surface area.

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Old 05-13-2010, 09:44 PM   #7
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I will add that sanitation really isnt an issue with a sour beer like it is a with a clean beer, the pH and bugs in there keep most everything at bay

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Old 05-13-2010, 10:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maskednegator View Post
Just a note with regard to size. A smaller cask has more surface area per unit volume of beer because it surrounds the entire volume. A dowel submerged in beer will have surface area exposed to the beer that increases linearly with the raidus of the dowel.
Bigger dowel = more surface area in contact with beer. I'm not making claims as to wether or not this will be perceptible to the palate, but there is definitely more surface area.
Right. I was trying to convey that the size doesn't matter much, as increasing the size of the dowel gives diminished returns with regards to increasing the size.
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Old 12-22-2010, 04:23 AM   #9
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I'm bringing this one back.
First of all, cactusgarrett do you think you really got those flavors from the oak?
Also if you are charring the surface after you toasted it, aren't you undoing all the effects from toasting?
This is something I want to look into.

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