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Old 12-27-2011, 06:36 AM   #1
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Default Adding oak chips and bourbon?

I brewed up my own recipe of an imperial Stout and would like to try adding some bourbon/oakey flavor and aroma to it.

What is the proper technique for this? Do I sanitize the wood chips? Where do I get the wood chips? What kind of bourbon works well? What type of wood yields the best results in your opinion?

Should I weigh the chips down in a bag in the secondary? Thanks again for your help.

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Old 12-27-2011, 08:03 AM   #2
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I put 8oz Makers Mark in a quart jar with 2 oz of medium american oak chips (just enough to cover the chips and account for soak up) for about one month and then tossed it into the secondary for about 3 months. The time sat on the oak can vary depending on how much oak/bourbon taste you want.

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Old 12-27-2011, 02:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jfrank85 View Post
I put 8oz Makers Mark in a quart jar with 2 oz of medium american oak chips (just enough to cover the chips and account for soak up) for about one month and then tossed it into the secondary for about 3 months. The time sat on the oak can vary depending on how much oak/bourbon taste you want.
This. We used 16oz of bourbon but same method and rough timeline.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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Some people steam their chips. I didn't do that, but I added 1 ounce of Oak to a cup sized mason jar and filled with bourbon for a couple of weeks. Then added all of it to the secondary. It was VERY mild flavor. I'd double it next time, easy. The bourbon almost came across as a sweetness IMO. A light vanilla flavor.

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Old 12-27-2011, 03:26 PM   #5
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Many of us on here have used these in beers quite often. I've used the same bag for years, a little goes a long way. And it's like 8 bucks for a big resealable bag.



Lately I've been steaming them in a small collander for 20 minutes, and then I soak them in a mason jar full of more jack for a week or two, then dump them bourbon and all into the secondary. And at 7 bucks for a huge bag, you get a lot of uses of them.

I got that trick from biermuncher.

I've also been dry toasting them lately. I use one of my cast iron pans, get it hot, and then drop them in the pan and move them around for 5-15 minutes or so. They will darken, and toast up really nice. I've just been going by nose more than anything.

I do that, then steam and then soak in jack.

How to sanitize really is determined by when you want to use them. If you know on brew day you want to oak it in secondary, and are palnning to secondary it after two weeks or a month, then soaking them in a mason jar with jack for 2-4 weeks is perfect. The booze should kill all the critters off.

If I suddenly wake up and decide that I might want to oak some beer I wasn't planning on before. Then I steam them, and while they are hot and the pores are open I drop them in a jar of jack and let them sit for an hour or two to absorb, then drop the whole shebang in.

Another friend of mine goes to his favorite bbq joint that sells their smoking wood by the bag.

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Old 12-28-2011, 07:32 AM   #6
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This is all such good info. How exactly are you steaming the wood chips and for how long? I noticed those jack Daniels chips recently at Cabelas. I'll be going that route since my beer is going on 2 weeks in primary tomorrow.

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Old 02-13-2012, 05:08 PM   #7
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Revvy, I just wanted to say thank you for the awesome idea about the JD Oak Chips. I toasted them and then soaked in JD. They turned out WONDERFUL!!! I bottled yesterday, sat in secondary for 2 weeks with the soaked chips. I took the other 5 gallons of the 10 gallon batch of oatmeal stout I did and added really strong brewed coffee and Cooked bittersweet baking chocolate. It turned out so Subtle and so smooth. These forums are so great for helping brewers hone their craft. Thanks

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Old 02-14-2012, 12:52 AM   #8
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What beers are good for using oak chips, and do any other beers benefit from a different type of wood or alcohol. Let's say scotch?

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Old 02-14-2012, 01:24 AM   #9
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I'm looking to try this out sometime this year...thanks for some starting tips. As far as sanitation goes, steaming and bourbon-soaking seems redundant? (if you are planning on soaking in bourbon)

Has anyone tried any different brands? I'll probably end up using Maker's, but I also have a large bottle of Bulleit, and I'm a little curious how the higher rye content would affect a beer.

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What beers are good for using oak chips, and do any other beers benefit from a different type of wood or alcohol. Let's say scotch?
IPA's occasionally use oak chips (to imitate the original English versions that were shipped in oak barrels). Most of the bourbon barrel beers I've tried have been darker, heavier beers like stouts, porters, and strong/old ales that can stand up to the caramel and vanilla flavors imparted by the bourbon. I haven't heard too much of other liquors being used, but I can imagine some rums might work well...*begins brainstorming*
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:11 AM   #10
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1 oz chips, one airplane bottle Jim Beam black, for a few days, the into secondary 6 days then bottle. Did this with a sweet stout, has nice oak flavor, and just the essesence of the liquor.

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