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Old 11-20-2011, 03:22 PM   #1
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Default Question about fermentation and oak chips

Hey guys,

I'm fairly new to homebrewing. I just started my 6th batch last night. This is the first time I've ever formulated my own recipe so seeing as times aren't written down in front of me, I'm left with a couple questions.

My recipe is this:
8 oz Chocolate malt
8 oz Roasted barley
8 oz Crystal 60L
6.6 lb Pale LME

1 oz Northern brewer (60 min)
1/2 oz Cluster (30)

8 oz light brown sugar (15 min)
8 oz molasses (15 min)
1 tbsp cinnamon (flameout. Steep for 10)
1 tbsp irish moss (30 min)

WL California Ale Yeast

After 2-3 days of fermentation I plan to add about 8 oz of pure maple syrup.

My first question is how long should I expect this to ferment? I'm guessing that the sugars will up the time quite a bit but I've been told that even with those sugars it'll probably only need a week in the primary. I have a hard time believing this as I figure the maple syrup addition alone will prolong fermentation for days. What's the general rule of thumb for checking when something stops fermenting? Usually I'll wait 10 days and if the airlock isn't moving anymore I'll open up the bucket and take a reading and take one a day or two later. If they match, I rack it to secondary. Is this correct?

The other question is about oak chips. I plan on putting oak chips in the secondary. How much should I put in the secondary and how should I go about doing it? Are there any types of oak chips that will work better with something like I'm making? How long should I leave the beer on the oak chips?

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Old 11-20-2011, 05:37 PM   #2
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I liked the light american oak chips,it had nice vanilla tones.Alot of recipes for 5 gallon i have seen 2 oz for about a week. I used .5 oz for >2 gallon batch, for 5 days and thought it was on the medium-low side to give it a nice presence but nothing dominating. If you do use too much it will be strong for the first few months probalby, i would try 1.5 oz for 5-7 days but you can also taste it and decide if you want it stronger by sampling it and having it sit a few more days.

Im not shure about the secondary,ive only done it once with a lager.I would just rack it once the krausen has fallen,as long as your temps are in fermentation range its going to ferment what it can. I wouldnt worry about it too much.

The rule of thumb is to check with the hydrometer over a period of 3 days if it doesnt drop then its done assuming your in the yeasts temp range still.But you dont want to bottle it just because its done fermenting of course,so it can condition a little.

I never do it, i just ferment for about three weeks(average abv beers) check my hydrometer(yep-done) then bottle it.Just make shure your temps never spike below and drop out- but you will know with your hydrometer reading anyway before bottleing.
If your going to do it this way also it may be good to get the temps to the higher end of the yeasts range the last week to further assure conditioning and complete fermentation. I dont do this too much but i might if i fermented pretty low or with high abv beers.

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Old 11-20-2011, 05:43 PM   #3
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I would say if you are going to oak your brew, and you want a real oak-like character, then you will probably want to secondary your brew on the oak cubes for 8 weeks.

I have had beers that have been secondaried on oak for <=2 weeks, and the oak character was nearly imperceptible.

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Old 11-20-2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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I used 4oz of oak chips soaked in 5 jiggers of 8 year old bourbon while my dark ale fermented. Poured the oak/bourbon mixture through a hop sack into secondary,tied it off,& dropped it in. I racked the dark ale on top of it for 8 days. It was pretty strong at that point.
Next time,I may only use 2-3oz of chips & 2 or 3 jiggers of bourbon to get it more on the back.
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:48 AM   #5
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Thanks guys. So any recommendations on types of oak chips? The only oaked dark ale I've had is Stone's Russian Imperial Stout. It's been a while since I've had it but I remember the oak flavor being relatively fainter than I've tasted in other oaked beers such as Cigar City's White Oaked Jai Alai. I don't want the oak to completely overpower the beer like it does in the Jai Alai but I still want it to be noticeable.

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Old 11-21-2011, 01:09 PM   #6
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What's the significance of the late addition of maple syrup? Are you bottling or kegging?

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Old 11-21-2011, 01:32 PM   #7
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I used medium toast French oak chips I found in an 8oz bag at the LHBS. They had the American white oak in chips & cubes. From what I've seen here,the chips work faster.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
I used medium toast French oak chips I found in an 8oz bag at the LHBS. They had the American white oak in chips & cubes. From what I've seen here,the chips work faster.
Chips = more surface area hence more oak flavor faster.

I have a few ounces of Med toast French Oak cubes that have been soaking in a pint mason jar on some old no. 7 along with 2 vanilla beans that I split--its been a couple months now. I will be seconadrying an Oatmeal stout (which is a bit over the recommended ABV for style) on top of that for at least a month, but I will sample to determine when it is ready.

Hoping it will be a nice winter warmer for next season.
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCGrayson
What's the significance of the late addition of maple syrup? Are you bottling or kegging?
I got the idea from a recipe from Sam Calagione's Extreme Brewing book for a brown ale. It seemed like a good idea. Would you not recommend it?
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Old 11-22-2011, 12:14 AM   #10
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You can use the syrup to bottle. Just try to bear in mind that maple syrup, honey, and table sugar will almost completely ferment away leaving less flavor behind the earlier you add them to your beer, so if you want a little maple syrup "flavor" in your beer I would recommend adding it after primary fermentation slows down, or use it for priming.

What the exact amount for priming you might want to add, I suggest a search I have not attempted it, but it is surely the best way to retain the most of the "maple" flavor.

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