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Old 07-23-2010, 04:17 PM   #1
neilph
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Default Adding oak to beer: whats the right ammount?

So, I have to admit to experimenting with brewing. In the past, I was getting bored with the same routine so I have decided to try different things. One of these thoughts is about oak. I have read it is easy to over oak, that oak has no business being in beer, that is offers a wonderful flavor and so on.
Questions:

In which recipies is the addition of oak desirable? Undesirable?
Light or heavy toasted?
Cubed or chipped?
What is the best way to soak? Red wine? Jack Daniels? Other?
Probably best to add it in secondary?
How long? A few days, maybe a week?

thanks guys. you're the best!

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Old 07-23-2010, 05:38 PM   #2
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In which recipies is the addition of oak desirable? Undesirable? I'll drink just about anything that's been oak aged. I go out of my way to find breweries that supply a good amount of barrel aged beers. The only beers I'm not to fond of with oak in them are lighter beers like pilsners and wheats. I really love oak aged IPAs.

Light or heavy toasted? The toast level really depends on what you're brewing. If you're making an oak aged red ale or pale ale, then you'd probably want to go with light toast. Stouts, porters, and barley wines...heavy toast.

Cubed or chipped? Most people prefer cubed oak because it's easier to manage, but I think the chipped offers better surface area to be in contact with the beer. You get more oak flavor from the chips.

What is the best way to soak? Red wine? Jack Daniels? Other? Again, it depends on what you're going. If you're wanting to mimick using a wine barrel, use wine to soak. I prefer good whiskey. I keep a bottle of makers mark just for brewing. After I soak the chips for a few weeks, I dump the whiskey back into the bottle. This isn't good for being consistant as the oak flavor gets stronger over time, but it's fun.

Probably best to add it in secondary? Correct.

How long? A few days, maybe a week? Depends on how much flavor you want. The standard is probably 2 weeks. If you're oaking a stronger beer like a barley wine, then you can age them for longer on the oak. I recently had a friends homebrew who used oak in an american strong ale for 6 months. It was excellent.
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:51 PM   #3
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There is a great thread on this that will help you immensely.

Generally speaking, my understanding is that chips are used for fermentation and cubes are used for aging, but only if you plan to age for two months or more. As for the rest of the questions, that thread I linked is a gold mine.

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Old 07-24-2010, 12:57 PM   #4
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I have used the chips for fermentation. I used makers mark with a porter. It was great. More for sipping than sessioning. One of these days I plan to try a rum soak. So, my suggestion is 2oz of chips - soak them for 2-3 weeks and make sure they stay covered with booze - dump or drink the booze and put the chips in secondary for 2 weeks. I read that you can put the liquor in secondary too but I never tried that.

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