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Old 01-18-2013, 04:16 PM   #1
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Default my scottish ale - to oak or not

I have never used oak before on a recipe but was thinking this was a good recipe to try it on. How much would you use and for how long?

Code:
Scottish Ale

FERMENTABLES:
12 lb - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (90.4%)
0.5 lb - American - Smoked Malt (3.8%)
4.3 oz - American - Chocolate (2%)
0.25 lb - American - Aromatic Malt (1.9%)
0.25 lb - American - Caramel / Crystal 120L (1.9%)

HOPS:
1.75 oz - Kent Goldings for 60 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5, IBU: 29.87)
0.25 oz - Kent Goldings for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 5, IBU: 2.12)

YEAST:
Fermentis / Safale - Safale - English Ale Yeast S-04
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:21 PM   #2
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I added less than a half oz of oak cubes soaked in scotch to my Wee Heavy that is in secondary now. I want just a very small hint of that flavor to shine through. They will soak in the beer for about 4 weeks prior to bottling. Wish I could tell you how it tastes, but I haven't tried it yet. Most of these bottles were intended for consumption next winter.

I used 1.25-1.5 oz of cubes to my RIS for 7 weeks last summer. You can easily pick out the flavor from that one, though again it should be pretty tasty by next winter as it fades a bit. I got some nice vanilla notes from the oak on this one.

Note that chips have way more surface area and are less forgiving than cubes with time. Often only a few days - 1 week is needed with chips.

I've kind of gone oak crazy lately. Added some to a red wine. Even added 6 cubes to a 1.75L bottle of agave blanco Tequila

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Old 01-18-2013, 04:32 PM   #3
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4oz of medium toast oak chips will be fine & work the fastest. Soak'em in bourbon for flavor,or vodka for no flavor but still sanitized,about 3 jiggers per 4oz of chips. Put both in an airtight container during the whole of fermentation in the fridge. Those tupperware containers Oscar Meyer uses for there deli selections work great for this.
When ready to secondary the beer,pour the chips & liquid through a hop sock into secondary,tie it off & drop it in. Rack beer onto it. Seal & check after 7 or 8 days. Repeat as needed till you get the level of background flavor desired.
Using the liquid as well as the wood is important. Ever soak wood chips in a bucket of water for the bbq pit? you can see the water turning brown after a while. Same thing here. The liquid soaks into the wood,soaking resins (flavor/aroma) out. So always use both the liquid & chips. Even if boiled in water,as the water is sanitized. Have fun with this most of all!!
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:35 PM   #4
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I use an ounce of chips or cubes and that seems to work well. It could be a bit overpowering with the smoked malt

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Old 01-18-2013, 04:47 PM   #5
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That's why I use less liquor & less time. In this case,with my amounts,even 3-4 days would lend some complexity on the back so as to add to the smoked malt character rather than compete with it. Time is the great adjuster on oaking.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
4oz of medium toast oak chips will be fine & work the fastest.
I wouldn't recommend this. 4oz oak is way too much in a 5gal batch. using more for less time is just a waste of money and an easy way to end up with lumber beer. you can always add more oak, but you can't undo it. an oz or so of cubes would be a good starting point
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:57 PM   #7
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Chips worl faster than cubes for one thing. Last time,I used 8 year old bourbon in a dark ale. Def need an ale with stromger malt flavors to balance it out. But it's def not too much for the 6 gallon batch I did. That's another reason I mentioned less time for the 5G wee heavy. More chips equals less time,less chips equals more time. Keeping in mind hop flavors/aromas will only weaken over more time. And oaked beers need some aging to start with. So less time in primary or secondary is a good thing in this case. Also,8oz bags of chips are cheap around here,so not much to be concerned with.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:11 PM   #8
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while the chips may be much faster than cubes, etc, they offer less complexity. adding more is not a substitute for complexity, its just adding more of one note. also, this being a style that does well with aging, getting oak in as quick as possible shouldn't be a concern

OP, here's a good starting point on learning more about oaking since you've never done it: http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/oakinfopaper09.pdf

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:23 PM   #9
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With the chips.less liquor is better for one. But the cubes can give a lot more oak flavor over time,which may not be as desirable. The cube slikely will get to the same level,but over a longer period of time. But I do agree that different oaks give diffwerent flavor qualities. It comes down to personal tastes.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:12 PM   #10
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Bottled up the Wee Heavy yesterday. I could pick out the ~ 1/2 oz of oak cubes that were present in secondary for 4 weeks. But it was well into the background, so I was pretty happy. 1 oz of cubes would probably present a medium/light flavor addition after being in the bottles for a year.

I certainly respect your opinions Union, but 4 oz of chips sounds like a lot of oak to me. Even for only a few days. But I concede there are many different ways to accomplish the same task.

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