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Old 03-10-2010, 11:47 PM   #11
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I've usually oaked wines, and not beers. Maybe I'm just too laid back, but I don't see a problem. I assume we're talking about oak chips or cubes from a homebrew store, and not Uncle Joe's old barnyard extra lumber. My oak chips came vacuum sealed, just like my hops do. Fresh from the bag like that, I never even thought about contamination. I've put them right in my wine. For my beer, I wanted a bourbon oaked imperial amber ale, so I soaked an ounce in Maker's Mark for about a week, then dumped it (Maker's Mark and all) right in the fermenter.

Steaming won't hurt, and is probably a good idea. But boiling would take out much of the "oakiness", so I wouldn't do that.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:39 PM   #12
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I see things different than most I guess. I don't really understand the whole soak the cubes in bourbon or whatever. Just dump the cubes and bourbon into the fermenter/keg and let it do its thing. Soaking in bourbon will do little. If you are worried about the bacteria that IS living in those cubes, boil it for a while. I would not throw that water into the fermenter tho because its like tannin city now. Oak needs time in the beer... and I'm with the crowd that says less for longer.

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:19 PM   #13
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In the high end wine industry oak barrels are made from hand hewn white oak harvested from specific forests. Hand hewing wood follows the grain rather than slicing across grain. Choosing from specific forests produces a consistent background character because the soils and weathers do influence the trees.

Even among the hewing industry there is hand hewing which is said to be more gentle and will more truly follow the natural grain and machine splitting which some claim will rip the fibers more aggressively.

The barrels made in such a manner can sell new, for anywhere from $1500 on up to $3000. They need to be hand hewn for reasons having to do with how the Oak and grain are presented to the wine for aging. Cut fibers don't produce the result the vintners seek. Apparently Oak staves that have been sawn instead of hewn introduce more raw oak products into the wine and less of the vanilla. Or maybe it overwhelms the wine because of the higher loading leaching out from the sliced fibers.

I find the discussion about oak barrels in the wine industry to be a tad esoteric, but without question, there are oak barrels and then there are oak barrels.

These upper end vintners wouldn't dream of putting shavings or cubes in their wine because of the same issues they'd have with sawn barrel staves.

Chair makers prefer to use a froe to hand hew the structural members for their traditional chairs, because cutting wood does not follow the grain and produces weaker lumber than hewing it.

While Beer rarely ages as does wine I would be most interested in some kind of comparative information between oak exposure that allows end grain as well as grain that is sliced (as will sawn lumber) compared to white oak that was hewn.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsloop View Post
I don't really understand the whole soak the cubes in bourbon or whatever.
I do the oak cubes in spirit thing for a few reasons: (not knocking your method at all)

- Sanitize the cubes w/o boiling them (admittedly the validity of this as per this thread is not 100%, but I do it anyway)
- I think the higher alcohol spirit extracts the oak flavor faster than the beer (is this true? I don't know)
- But the main reason is the time as you mentioned. When I know I'm doing a spirit/oak beer I get them (spirit/oak) mixed up and in the fridge even before I brew, that way when the beer is done fermenting they both (oak and spirit) go in and the oak flavor is already "liquified", or at least a week or two on its way.

Anyway, to each their own, and YMMV, just my way of doing things. But I agree completely with the less oak for longer regardless of how the spirit and oak come into play, I always like leaving the oak in for as long as possible.
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:34 PM   #15
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I did something similar with Jim Beam. I sanitized a container, put the bourbon and chips in for a week, then pitched.

Everything came out fine for me!

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:24 AM   #16
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Default Waking up old thread

Just checked my GI Bourbon County clone and one of the oak cubes floating on top had gray schmutz on it with some gray film around it. It's still possible to get an infection with oak cubes and Makers Mark in a 10.3 ABV. Did not sanitize the cubes which soaked in the MM for 3 weeks. Never happened before.

Guess I will keg what I can and hope for the best.

Depressed. Will try the BCS again later this fall.

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Old 10-08-2012, 12:27 PM   #17
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Yes, entirely possible. 10% alcohol isn't sanitizing anything...

Steam you oak before using it.

If that unsanitized oak cube sits in Jim Beam, nothing is going to grow in the Jim Beam, but if you pour that into a lower alcohol environment (your beer) all bets are off.

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Old 10-08-2012, 03:14 PM   #18
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I steamed the oak cubes before using them.

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Old 10-08-2012, 03:56 PM   #19
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Makers Mark ABV is 45%. The beer is 10.3. Never had an issue with the Oak cubes not sanitizing in MM before. Will steam from now on.

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