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Old 03-01-2010, 01:38 AM   #1
Ozone
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Default The great oak experiment

OK, no dice on any solid info regarding oaking cider, so getting the lab set up for an experiment.
I call it Ozquest

Cider:
6 Gallons of Musselman's 100% apple cider (some ascorbic acid, no K-sorbate)
For each gallon:
Reduced to 100oz, of this 16oz was drained and heated for 2 mins in 1200w microvave. 12oz of white sugar added to heated 16oz then mixture was returned to container. Aerated, 1 campden added, rested for 10 minutes, aerated, 1/4tsp fermax added, Premier cuvée yeast added.

For those gallons with oak:
Dark and light oak were coated in water and steamed for 30 minutes, then allowed to cool for 20 minutes. Oak was added 20 minuttes after yeast.

Specifics:
Batch 1: Control, no oak
Batch 2: 1oz light oak in primary
Batch 3: 1oz dark oak in primary
Batch 4: 1oz light oak to secondary
Batch 5: 1oz dark oak to secondary
Batch 6: 1oz light oak in primary, 1oz light oak to secondary

Specific gravities were 1.075 +/- 0.002
Racked at 1.035
Bottled at 1.015 +/- 0.005


UPDATE 12 APRIL

First week after bottling and results are in.

As a benchmark I consulted my wine shop owner to find a quite oaky chardonnay which is commercially available coast to coast. We settled on 'Burning Head Chard'. It's about $14 a bottle, available in most wine liquor shops, and had a bear on the label breathing fire.

So, here's the chart...



In all round performance, the dark oak was tops. With a group at the house for my bday, I ran a blind taste test among a few folks. There was a 100% preference for the 'dark oak primary', and I'd have to agree - good nose, very smooth, and subtle oak taste (but definitely notable), it appears addition of some dark oak to secondary may increase the nose without too dramatic an impact on flavor.

Overall, the light oak didn't do too well and fell far behind the dark oaks on the taste test. The lights came across, in comparison, as overbearing with a sharp (almost acidy) taste, though the odor on the 'light primary' and 'light both' was satisfactory.

So, the taste test results (in preferential order)...
Dark primary (by a landslide)
Dark secondary
Light primary
Light secondary
Light both (buried by a landslide)

My next oak run, based on this, will be 1oz of dark oak per gallon in primary, 1/2oz per gallon in the secondary. Looking forward to it, should be most groovie.

Hope this experiment may offer some guidance. I'll drop another line in a week or two when they've had a chance to settle a bit more.

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Old 03-01-2010, 01:57 AM   #2
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Nice, keep us posted!

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Old 03-07-2010, 10:26 PM   #3
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Ya you'll have to keep us posted. I am curious to see myself!!!

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Old 03-08-2010, 06:56 PM   #4
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Just a thought here Oz, but you might want to do a control batch with no oak, so you'll have something to compare the rest of the batches with. I'm thinking red wine might be too different from the cider for you to get a good idea for the oak flavour.

I've seen bottles of "oak essence" but I've never used the stuff. In theory, you could simply add a drop or 2 at a time to a glass of cider to see if you liked the oaking. I'm not trying to put you off your experiment, I'm just saying there might be another way to make your taste tests. Good luck, GF.

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Old 03-08-2010, 07:01 PM   #5
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Timely thread! I've got a apple-raspberry cider I'm planning to rack onto some oak eventually, and I was just gonna use ~1 oz of light oak, but I wasn't sure for how long.

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Old 03-09-2010, 06:14 AM   #6
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Woodchuck makes an Oak Aged variant of their normal cider. Its delicious! That could be used as your basis for comparison if you can find it. I've only ever gotten it as the "cider maker's choice" they give you when you buy a 12 pack. Still, if you can find it, its a good cider. Made me want to oak my own ciders, so I'm looking forward to hearing how it comes out for you.

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Old 03-09-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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GF, A number of years ago I experimented with oak essence in various brews. I recall it having an initial taste bud assault which had potential to coat over the brew itself, and if a drop or two too much was added, it went to overbearing. So, figured I'd try the 'natural' way. Agree on the red wine, was thinking a commercially available light chardonnay with solid oak might work, going to compare with woodchuck as well as cXc mentioned. Also, my apologies for not mentioning the control, got a med bg so was planned but not mentioned.

Az, I racked a cherry cider (4gal) just recently which had 4oz of light American Oak in primary. Mild oak odor was there, nice with the cherry, but nothing came through on the taste. Got it in secondary now, no oak, going to see what happens. This was the brew that got me interested in the experiment.

cXc, Thanks for info. I've seen some cases of Woodchuck around and will try to pick up the oaked if I see it.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:38 PM   #8
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Houston, we have liftoff. But, after speaking to 2 professional winemakers I've been told that there were some batches that would be overpowering, so modified a bit and started the run today.

Cider:
6 Gallons of Musselman's 100% apple cider (some ascorbic acid, no K-sorbate)

For each gallon:
Reduced to 100oz, of this 16oz was drained and heated for 2 mins in 1200w microvave. 12oz of white sugar added to heated 16oz then mixture was returned to container. Aerated, 1 campden added, rested for 10 minutes, aerated, 1/4tsp fermax added, Premier cuvée yeast added.

For those gallons with oak:
Dark and light oak were coated in water and steamed for 30 minutes, then allowed to cool for 20 minutes. Oak was added 20 minuttes after yeast.

Specifics:
Batch 1: Control, no oak
Batch 2: 1oz light oak in primary
Batch 3: 1oz dark oak in primary
Batch 4: 1oz light oak to secondary
Batch 5: 1oz dark oak to secondary
Batch 6: 1oz light oak in primary, 1oz light oak to secondary

Specific gravities were 1.075 +/- 0.002.

Will update in about 2 weeks.

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Old 03-13-2010, 05:17 PM   #9
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I recently did a one gallon test batch with .5 oz medium oak.

I added it to the secondary with one cup of strong black tea, and let it sit for two weeks.

I bottled it today, and there was a HUGE amount of oak flavor/aroma. It is fantastic. Interestingly, the oak really amplified the apple flavor, and hid some of the off younger flavors that need to age out. I can't wait to try it after aging.

It was so promising that I added .5 oz of oak and a cup of tea to a lack luster "just cider" batch I have going.

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Old 04-12-2010, 11:27 PM   #10
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OP updated with initial results from 12 April
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