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Old 02-12-2013, 08:39 PM   #1
damdaman
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Default Questions on using oak chips

I have 3 gallons of pyment that I'm going to rack onto oak chips. I've never used oak before but hope it will add some nice complexity.

I have both light toasted american oak chips and medium toasted american. Which would you guys recommend using? How long do you usually boil them? How many chips per gallon?

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Old 02-12-2013, 08:45 PM   #2
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None! Blah!

I used to not mind oak in a wine. Then I we t to paradise springs winery in Clifton Virginia... Their wine maker has some sort of obsession with oak, be ause that wAs all I could taste, it was beyond overpowering. Since then I can't stomach any wine with oak.

Don't let me discourage you though. Others here like using oak and seem pleased with the results.

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Old 02-12-2013, 09:53 PM   #3
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I use oaks in my meads when I'm in the mood. It adds some nice complexity. Either light or medium is a good choice.

If you've got metabisulfite in your pyment then you don't need to boil the chips ahead of time. If I'm adding to beer (meaning: non-sulfited beverage) I steam them for 15 minutes.

I toss in a handful of chips into my 5 gallon batches.

If you consider the surface area of the inside of an oak barrel, you can probably add as many chips as you want without worrying about over-oaking.

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Old 02-13-2013, 01:30 AM   #4
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I don't believe it matters what amount of oak you use--less oak will just take longer. Just keep tasting until it's where you want.

Oaking Meads thread

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Old 02-13-2013, 02:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitack View Post
None! Blah!

I used to not mind oak in a wine. Then I we t to paradise springs winery in Clifton Virginia... Their wine maker has some sort of obsession with oak, be ause that wAs all I could taste, it was beyond overpowering. Since then I can't stomach any wine with oak.

Don't let me discourage you though. Others here like using oak and seem pleased with the results.
It must me mentioned that Mead is not wine. And although it has more in common with wine than beer it still should be treated differnetly. That said, It can be easy to over oak a mead. I have not checked out the link above but timing is a key here.

I like to use oak chips, I usually don't go more than a month on it. And that is only 1 oz with a 5-6 gal batch. For a 3 gal, 1 oz is still good but I would go about 3 weeks at most. This should impart good flavors without going overboard. The light toast wont be noticeable in the flavor but will make the mead smoother. The medium toast will impart a bit of earthy flavor with some light carmels and the heavy toast will impart a smokyness that scotch drinkers really like. How do I know this: well I did a triple toast test. I did 3 batches exactly the same with oaking each differently. I encorage all to try it so that they can develop their taste on it. And KNOW what each is contributing.

After the test, I decided that Light toast is for fruity flavors, Medium for some more earthy and spice flavors, and Heavy if I want to lower the apparent sweetness of it and have a bit of that smoke flavor that scotch has, or a good whisky.

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Old 02-14-2013, 06:31 PM   #6
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I've been wondering about oak chips too, and can't quite seem to find the answers I'm looking for.

I was going to use light and medium oak chips in different 1g batches of Apfelwein, but... not sure about the quanity, how long to leave on, and ... with boiling (to sterilize, I presume?), do you dump in the liquid also, or discard it?

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Old 02-14-2013, 07:05 PM   #7
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No need to boil. Cover with a small amount (1oz) of vodka/whisky/etc if you are paranoid, but as long as your mead is finished you don't have to worry about contamination too much.

Quantity depends upon how much "oakiness" you want to impart and the size and condition of your chips. I would start at around 1/4-1/2 oz per gallon to start with. Taste after two weeks to see where it's at. Taste periodically until you reach your target level of oak.

Personally I like medium toast because there is a larger variety of toast levels in medium (some chips are dark, some are light, some are in-between) which should give a little more complexity. But experimentation is key.

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Old 02-14-2013, 07:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuginator View Post
I've been wondering about oak chips too, and can't quite seem to find the answers I'm looking for.

I was going to use light and medium oak chips in different 1g batches of Apfelwein, but... not sure about the quanity, how long to leave on, and ... with boiling (to sterilize, I presume?), do you dump in the liquid also, or discard it?
Really the only thing I would do to the oak chips is rinse dust off of them. That's all. Keep in mind that if you mead is finished, like the bk0 said, you wont need to worry about sterilization of the oak chips. Your mead is at anywhere from 10% to 17% ABV. That's enough to kill any infection organism. While I like the tasting idea, I have found that 6 weeks for 1 oz for 6 gal is plenty of time for chips. If I go more than a month it's rare. 4 weeks is what I would start at unless you are going for really oaky flavors. I don't really mess around much with quantity, just time. Vodka and boiling is not necessary as well. Boiling will loose some of the essence you are looking for and vodka would just be an extra addition that's not needed.

A lot of problems that happen with mead are simply just overthinking the situation and not letting it age. Suprising how much aging smooths out some of the minor errors. My advice, just relax and enjoy brewing. Brewing mead is a lazyman's hobby, it's so forgiving on timing. And takes in all honesty very little work, just waiting.

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Old 02-15-2013, 02:12 AM   #9
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So I'm looking at Brother Adams missives on mead in which he casked his honey in oak barrels used for aging sherry for seven years before he uncorked (unbunged) and served. How, pray tell, do we replicate that?

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Old 02-15-2013, 01:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZhornedtoad View Post
So I'm looking at Brother Adams missives on mead <snip>
Just curious, where do you find this book/information? Google wasn't too revealing.
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