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Old 02-19-2011, 04:17 AM   #1
dawgman
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Default Oak Aging

So due to overshooting my efficiency by a long way I have a Belgian specialty ale that started as a saison. The beer is at about 10.5% abv and really dry. It has been in the primary fermentor for about two weeks and has reached its final gravity of around 1.005.

Anyway I'd like to rack this to a secondary fermentor on top of an ounce or two of oak chips in about three weeks. I would like to leave it to bulk age on oak until Septemberish then bottle.

Does anyone foresee any problems with this?

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Old 02-19-2011, 04:23 AM   #2
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no problems racking it, but you can rack it into maltodextrin to counter excessive dryness.

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Old 02-19-2011, 04:29 AM   #3
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So you plan to leave it on the yeast for ~5 weeks, then get off the cake and age on oak for a several months, right?

I would say to leave it on the yeast until it tastes right, then if you want, rack onto the oak... Depending on the oak toast level, leave it there until it also tastes right... Or until it's more in line with what you want.

I would suggest going with 3/4-1 ounce of oak chips first... Let it ride for a month, and sample it. Sample it again a few weeks, or after another month... Then decide if you want to add more oak or not... Since you're already planning on a long time frame, why not use that to your advantage? You could, also, pick a couple of different toast levels of oak. Adding each in turn. I've not done that yet, so I'm not certain if you would need to rack off the different toast level, or if it's good practice to just add more...

I would suggest using a few ounces of boiling water to soak your chips in. Let them cool down to safe pitching temp, and put everything into the brew. This way, you sanitize AND you don't lose any flavor additions from the oak by steaming them.

You'll have to let us know how this turns out though... Plus what you ended up using for oak and for how long...

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Old 02-19-2011, 04:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
So you plan to leave it on the yeast for ~5 weeks, then get off the cake and age on oak for a several months, right?

This is correct.

I would say to leave it on the yeast until it tastes right, then if you want, rack onto the oak... Depending on the oak toast level, leave it there until it also tastes right... Or until it's more in line with what you want.

That is really what I plan. But I think in another few weeks it should be pretty chilled out. There are some hot alcohols that need to mellow a tad.

I would suggest going with 3/4-1 ounce of oak chips first... Let it ride for a month, and sample it. Sample it again a few weeks, or after another month... Then decide if you want to add more oak or not... Since you're already planning on a long time frame, why not use that to your advantage? You could, also, pick a couple of different toast levels of oak. Adding each in turn. I've not done that yet, so I'm not certain if you would need to rack off the different toast level, or if it's good practice to just add more...

I hadn't considered using different types at different times. Could be quite interesting.

I would suggest using a few ounces of boiling water to soak your chips in. Let them cool down to safe pitching temp, and put everything into the brew. This way, you sanitize AND you don't lose any flavor additions from the oak by steaming them.

I wonder at this abv do I really need to worry all that much about the critters in the oak?

You'll have to let us know how this turns out though... Plus what you ended up using for oak and for how long...
Will do. I am pretty excited to try this.
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Old 02-19-2011, 04:50 AM   #5
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A small amount of boiled water (right out of the kettle) will be simple insurance against any possible nasty items hitching a ride. You could be fine without this step, but (as I just said) it's cheap insurance. Depending on the room temp, it could take an hour or two to cool down to safe temps... Just leave the container covered (sanitize the container first, glass being the first choice)... Basically, you're making oak tea this way... Pour it all in, and let her ride...

My first times using oak, I made sanitized cheese cloth bags for the chips. I had thought about maybe needing to pull them out earlier... But that turned out to not be the case. If you're using a carboy, don't do the bag method, just pour them in. If you age in a corny keg, then I would put them into some kind of sanitized bag. More for ease of getting all of them out than anything else. You could use a muslin bag from the LHBS for the chips. Just be sure to give them enough room so you have lots of contact with the wort/beer...

I have my old ale still sitting on oak... Planning on bottling it up this weekend. It's going to take some time to carbonate since it's at almost 8% ABV... Once it's ready, I'll post up how it came out...

I went with medium toast oak chips... I am planning on getting some medium plus oak to use in future brews. I might get some more lighter, and darker, toast levels for either other brews, or to mix together... This is part of the fun of home brewing... Trying something different with a brew that you've not done before. Maybe someone else has done it, with great results... Maybe no one has yet, but once you post up your results, it might become a fairly common practice... Who knows...

Either way, thinking outside the box (I think this qualifies) gives bonus points in my book (to you)...

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Old 02-19-2011, 05:13 AM   #6
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I see what you're saying. Why bother with not doing it since its easy and it won't hurt but may help.

BTW when I said that the beer was dry I meant that it had reached a low FG. I don't think it is an issue. It is what I started out to do to when it was intended to be a saison. The hydro samples are terrific (for what they are) I put some honey malt, aromatic malt corriander, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, the zest of a navel orange, and the zest of a lemon in the brew.

I just figure that since it has already become an experimental beer due to the abv being way higher than I figured I may as well take it all the way and see if I can't get a little stupid with it.

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Old 02-19-2011, 05:18 AM   #7
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Bloody hell.. That's a lot of extras in a brew...

The dry flavor should age out, even if you don't use any oak... But, using oak shouldn't do anything negative to the brew... If anything, it will make it a little more unique and have a hint of days of old, where men were men and the women kicked their asses.

At 10.5% ABV, you might want to put a warning label on it... Something about after drinking this magic elixer, women will suddenly become more beautiful, more intelligent, etc... Make up something fitting of the brew... You could also mention something about the brew having wood, as will any who partake of it's wonder...

1.005 is a bit on the dry side, but I think you're on track for taking some of the edge off of it...

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Old 02-19-2011, 03:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
Bloody hell.. That's a lot of extras in a brew..

heh yeah it is. I have used, with great success, orange, lemon and coriander in a with that was fantastic and I read a lot of recipes for saison that had black pepper in them and the cayenne was a wth why not moment on a late brew night. I love the spice flavors of some belgian beers.

The dry flavor should age out, even if you don't use any oak... But, using oak shouldn't do anything negative to the brew... If anything, it will make it a little more unique and have a hint of days of old, where men were men and the women kicked their asses.

At 10.5% ABV, you might want to put a warning label on it... Something about after drinking this magic elixer, women will suddenly become more beautiful, more intelligent, etc... Make up something fitting of the brew... You could also mention something about the brew having wood, as will any who partake of it's wonder...

1.005 is a bit on the dry side, but I think you're on track for taking some of the edge off of it...
See above
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Old 02-19-2011, 03:47 PM   #9
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Hey, as long as you like the result, go for it... Half the fun with home brew is experimenting and making something different. Or deviating from the original recipe to add your own touch to the brew.

Personally, I've not brewed anything with all those additions to it... Not saying I never will, but it will take a while before I get to a style that takes to them well. Of course, now it's got me thinking of what I could brew and put something different into... hmmmmmm

Maybe a pale ale with orange zest in it... I'm sure it's been done, so I'll be able to look up how much is typically added. Need to start brewing up some spring/summer brews soon... I'll be brewing up a 'winter warmer' soon too, so that it's ready come fall...

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Old 03-05-2011, 03:01 AM   #10
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So I racked this on to hungarian oak cubes that were soaked in chardonnay tonight. I'm going to let it age until august then bottle in champagne bottles and carb to about 3.5 volumes to drink this winter.

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