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Old 08-10-2011, 11:10 AM   #1
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Default My first mead x2

This last weekend I set up a semi-sweet and a dry mead based on 14.5lbs and 12lbs of Orange Blossom honey (not hard to find in Florida). I've had mead given to me (love still meads -and they seem to age rather well) and decided to take some of my beer fermenters (after thorough sanitation regimens that I always follow anyway) and give 'em a go.
Fermentation is proceeding nicely, no complaints and even the aromas coming from the airlocks are nice.
I figured that it would be a nice christmas gift for family and friends to have a bottle of this stuff (most of the family are wine drinkers, but they enjoy my beers -the mead is a surprise as they don't know I'm making it.)
My question is this: Once my gravity stabilizes and I rack to a secondary for clearing, I'd like to put some oak blocks into the carboys to give it an 'oak aged' effect. I have plenty of oak wood thats been seasoned (older than 6 months -I use it for smoking meats, grains, and to turn on the wood lathe when bored) -should I sanitize the oak blocks? Should I autoclave them instead?
Also, these are 5gallon batches, how much wood surface area should I put in? How long? They will be in the secondary for a couple of months (per instructions -this is based on the NorthernBrewer Artisanal meads) I figure on putting some finings (isinglass) in at the last couple of weeks before racking into bottles (unless, of course, it clears to my desire on its own)
If I can use my own Oak, that would be cool, but if I'm better off using homebrew shop purchased oak cubes -I'm not about to quibble. OR do y'all advise skipping the oak, and just letting the bottle do its' conditioning alone?
Many thanks for any advice!!

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GOT BEER?
FERMENTING:
LAGERING/CONDITIONING:Simply Sweet Mead
Kegged: Big Bad Brown Ale (Brown Ale and Porter blend).
Bottled:

Plans: Oak-Smoked Porter, Honey Brown Ale.

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we do it for the love of beer! Not for the love of money! We can all make great BEER! Not so much when it comes to money!
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:13 PM   #2
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Well unless you're certain that the wood you've got is "White" oak, then I'd just get some from the HBS. Spirals, staves, cubes, chips, whatever. As long as it's pre-toasted to a set level.

As too how much ? I don't know, but the packs of toasted french oak chips I've used before have had some rough instructions on the front.

If you searched this forum and over at gotmead, you'll probably get some idea of how much and how long, so it's not over oaked.......

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Old 08-13-2011, 09:24 PM   #3
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Thanks. Yeah, I guess I'd be better off getting it at the shop. THIS oak is 'live oak' (well most of it is, not sure about some of it -it was primarily acquired to use in my smoker so those things weren't all that critical -much more critical to make sure it was well seasoned to prevent an abundance of creosote forming in the box and on the food -it lends a rather acetone-like taste and numbs the mouth. Not good characteristics for food.

__________________

GOT BEER?
FERMENTING:
LAGERING/CONDITIONING:Simply Sweet Mead
Kegged: Big Bad Brown Ale (Brown Ale and Porter blend).
Bottled:

Plans: Oak-Smoked Porter, Honey Brown Ale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybird View Post
we do it for the love of beer! Not for the love of money! We can all make great BEER! Not so much when it comes to money!
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:30 AM   #4
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Well I don't know about "Live" oak, but most of the oak used in construction is "Red" oak, whereas the stuff used in cooperage (irrespective of national origin - though that does have some baring on the resulting flavour/taste) is "White" oak. Which is the one that is traditionally used for it's flavouring properties.

As I understand it, the best oak (barrels, flavouring, etc etc) is Hungarian, but with the development of the "Iron Curtain" it became harder to get, hence French oak predominated. Though I've also read of the requirements for bourbons etc needing newly coopered barrels - and unsurprisingly, a lot of that is American oak - so I'd have thought it would come from the colder/cooler wintered northern areas of the US (something about the fineness of the grain from slow grown oak etc etc).

Dunno if that helps any....

regards

fatbloke

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Old 08-15-2011, 09:38 AM   #5
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Actually yes it helps quite a lot. I think I'll just continue to let the live oak feed the smoker, and take a trip to the brew shop... I do have other woods, but they really wouldn't be suitable for this purpose anyway -and they are in various stages of seasoning (I use them for smoking meats and grains) which include Hickory (made a heck of a nice tap handle with some of that), Pecan and Citrus (orange).

__________________

GOT BEER?
FERMENTING:
LAGERING/CONDITIONING:Simply Sweet Mead
Kegged: Big Bad Brown Ale (Brown Ale and Porter blend).
Bottled:

Plans: Oak-Smoked Porter, Honey Brown Ale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybird View Post
we do it for the love of beer! Not for the love of money! We can all make great BEER! Not so much when it comes to money!
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightbiker View Post
Actually yes it helps quite a lot. I think I'll just continue to let the live oak feed the smoker, and take a trip to the brew shop... I do have other woods, but they really wouldn't be suitable for this purpose anyway -and they are in various stages of seasoning (I use them for smoking meats and grains) which include Hickory (made a heck of a nice tap handle with some of that), Pecan and Citrus (orange).
Well, that's probably best. The only wood other than white oak that I've heard being used, is sweet chestnut. Even with that, the resulting flavour is different. I understand it's about the way alcohol draws the flavouring elements out of the wood, and it just happens that Oak works best.

wood for smokers is rather different......
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