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Old 08-07-2012, 10:21 PM   #1
Spartan1979
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Default Adding Oak to Secondary Questions.

A friend of mine is brewing a beer with oak and bourbon and asked me a couple of questions. The only oaked beers I've done were actually in barrels so I'm not sure of the answers.

Anyhow, he's got oak cubes that he's been soaking in bourbon. Does he put the cubes in a bag before adding to the beer or just throw them in? Do they float or sink? If they float, then I'd guess the bag needs to be weighed down. Does he add the remaining liquid from the jar he was soaking the cubes in? I suggested that he just hang on to that and add it later if he want's more bourbon flavor. It's easier to add more than to try and pull it out.

Thanks.

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Old 08-07-2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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How long has he been letting them soak? The cubes will float. The longer you let it sit the more robust the flavor will be in my experience.

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Old 08-08-2012, 01:13 PM   #3
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I just brewed an Old Ale that's sitting in the fermentor.
I have a jar of Bourbon and Oak Cubes that has been waiting since July 4th.
The Cubes all have sunk, none are floating, though they all floated at the start.

I suggest this - depending on how long the cubes have been soaking in bourbon - pour in some of the liquid, and all the cubes, and taste a tiny sample. You taste it each week. If you think more bourbon taste is needed, pour in more.
Just be aware that the bourbon has absorbed a lot of the Oak flavor depending on how long its been sitting in a jar.

I am using 10 ounces of Bourbon and 2 ounces of medium toasted oak cubes. I almost think I have let this sit too long and it may be too oakish. So I will see how it is after adding half the bourbon. I tried adding a teaspoon to a stout and it was really good!

I had originally planned on brewing this in mid July, but the yeast I was sent was 3.75 months old so I needed a replacement and brewed a Kolsch instead.

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jknapp12105 View Post
How long has he been letting them soak? The cubes will float. The longer you let it sit the more robust the flavor will be in my experience.
They've been soaking for several weeks. He's just not sure what to do next.
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:38 AM   #5
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How much bourbon is your friend using? I've always just used enough to cover the cubes for soaking so I could add all of the liquid, fearing that some of the oak flavors had leached into the bourbon. Half of my cubes usually sink right away and half float. I just toss them in to the secondary with the liquid and rack on top.

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Old 08-09-2012, 08:07 AM   #6
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Here is my experiences using oak cubes in a porter. I soaked 2 oz. HT American oak cubes for 3 weeks in 6 ounces of Marker's mark before adding to secondary (5 gallon corny keg). I just dropped all the cubes into the keg at ambient temperature (72-74F) for a total of 20 days. I didn't add any of the bourbon as the HT oak provided too much astringency to the bourbon for my taste. I would pull a sample every 5 days until my desired flavor profile. I transferred the beer into another keg and discarded the cubes after completion.

Next time, I will add oak to a hop bag with some marbles to completely submerged them. I will use medium toasted cubes and not heavy toast. As far as the length of oak contact, it really depends the role you want the bourbon/oak to take in your beers flavor profile. After 2 month of conditioning I would say I have lost about 50% of the initial flavors, but I wanted it to be a subtle tertiary flavor to the porter. As far as adding the bourbon I poured 10cc's of porter in a glass and added the leftover bourbon in .5cc increments testing the strength each time, but I felt it added too much astringency and/or booziness for my taste. So I relied on the cubes themselves to give it the flavor/aromas which it did. Hope this gives your friend some ideas based on my limited findings.

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