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Old 05-22-2012, 07:25 PM   #1
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Default Using Oak Cubes

I found a nice port wine at a wine festival I went to a few months ago. If I were to soak an ounce of oak cubes in a few ounces of this port & left it sit for an extended period of time (say a year), would it simulate the effect of using an actual wine barrel for oaking if I added it to a brew?

I know a lot of people say soaking it won't give you much flavor, so just add some of the actual port to the beer & sterilize the oak.

Just curious on thoughts for the 2 different options...

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Old 05-22-2012, 07:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by CTownBrewer View Post
I know a lot of people say soaking it won't give you much flavor, so just add some of the actual port to the beer & sterilize the oak.
I disagree, I use oak chips soaked for a week and it imparts a lot of flavor. Oak chips would obviously need to be longer due to less surface area, but I think a month would be the minimum amount of time.
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:29 PM   #3
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I've never oaked anything to this point, so I was just curious how people approach it.

I know at some point I heard Jamil talk about it & he said you'll get the flavor from the oak, but if you're looking for that bourbon or wine flavor from putting your beer in actual barrels, you're better off just adding an ounce of the bourbon or wine directly along with the oak.

I guess if I soak the cubes in the port, my best bet would be to just add the whole concoction, liquid & oak, to the secondary to maximize both the port & oak flavor. Then just taste it every couple days until it's where I want it to be.

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Old 05-23-2012, 05:27 AM   #4
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I've used oak chips, cubes and more recently honeycomb pattern toasted wood (cherry wood)... All medium toast. I find that cubes are better than chips in that what they provide is more stable. With chips, expect it to change, drastically, over time (over the next few/several months) before settling into something close to what you get from cubes (but still not as good). Also with chips, it's more of a single note, where with cubes you have several notes to the contribution. I've not had a sample from the honeycomb pattern batch yet, so the jury is still out there.

I would advise researching what the different types of oak, and toast levels, will do for a brew before you start adding any. I would also not soak the wood in anything for the first few tries. IMO, if you're planning to add toasted wood/oak to a brew, do it to get the flavors from that wood.

Personally, I wouldn't want to add wine flavor to my beer by adding wine soaked wood to it. IMO, if you want that character/flavor in a beer, brew it up so that it will have it, or develop it on it's own.

I would also advise adding at least an ounce of the wood to the brew. Give it 4-6 weeks and then pull a flavor sample. If you don't think it's enough, add some more of the same wood to it, and give it another 4-6 weeks. The cubes I usually use claim full extraction in 6 weeks. I have a wee heavy with 3oz of medium toast Hungarian oak cubes in it. It's been sitting like that for almost 15 weeks now. I'll probably pull a taste sample the next time I'm brewing (in about 3-4 more weeks) to see where it's at. Since it's a 12% brew, I'm not worried about the oak being in there so long. I've already planned on not going to glass with it until fall (at the earliest).

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Old 05-24-2012, 02:41 AM   #5
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You will have so little of the port in the wood, that you shouldn't really expect it to add any of that flavor. Soak the oak in the port and add both the port and the oak.

If it gives you any idea of how much you may need, I add half a liter of bourbon to a beer when I want to get some bourbon flavor in the beer. To find out how much you might want to add, pour yourself a beer and pour in a measured amount of port. 10 ml in a beer is roughly equivalent to half a liter in a 5 gallon batch.

Oak cubes (or sections of staves if you can get them) are better than chips (IMO). The thicker the oak, the more complex the flavors. Chips will flavor the beer quicker due to their greater surface area, but oak with depth will deliver the complex vanilla flavors (given time) that you can't get with the 'one-dimensional' chips.

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Old 06-25-2012, 11:42 AM   #6
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When using oak cubes in a recipe from bring to bear, at what stage in the method should they be added. Also, what’s the general time frame that they should be left in the must or wine? If it helps, I am using American oak, medium toast in a Zinfandel recipe.
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:37 PM   #7
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Add them after the wine/brew is otherwise done. I would let them sit in the batch for at least 6 weeks. Pull a taste sample at that time and decide. Keep in mind what you taste initially will mellow with age. It's typical to go beyond the flavor you want so that it will age/mellow into what you really want.

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