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Old 05-21-2009, 01:52 AM   #1
pete20
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Default Adding oak chips -- how much, how long?

I've got an IPA (50 IBUs) that I want to add some oak chips to but am having trouble finding good information on the subject.

One complication is that I'm not using oak from my local HBS, because I really want to use red oak chips from my hometown. The chips are roughly 1 x 1.5 inches and 1/8th thick and fairly rough.

I've read that American red oak is a lot more pungent than white oak (especially French white oak) so I want to proceed carefully. I'm thinking of using a 10-20 minute toast and adding 2oz for a week. I'll sterilize them in a pressure cooker before adding to the carboy.

Does anyone have experience with something of this sort?


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Old 05-21-2009, 02:31 AM   #2
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I've never personally used oak chips, my brother has a couple times with good success though I don't know the specifics of what he did. Here are some other pages I found, hopefully one of them will help:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ques...-chips-105682/
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/sani...d-chips-88650/
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/stea...k-chips-65525/
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/beechwood-chips-106058/
Specialty Aged Beer - Home Brewing Wiki


And a BYO article by Mr. Wizard: http://www.byo.com/stories/technique...vity-mr-wizard


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Old 05-21-2009, 03:23 AM   #3
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Less for more time will always be the preferable option, plus you can add more oak later. I would personally take it slow and get it to the right level of oak. I would also probably just soak them in hard liquor myself for fear of cooking out any flavor in the pressure cooker.
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Old 05-21-2009, 04:01 AM   #4
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I used one once of French oak chip for seven days. I think it was about right for a 7% 50 IBU beer.
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Old 05-21-2009, 04:14 AM   #5
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Using this same theme, but instead of an IPA, what about a lambic? As I don't have an oak barrel handy, I'll be using chips very soon! Timeline? Amounts?
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:52 AM   #6
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I've done 2.5 oz of toasted French oak in a 5 gal. IPA (7%, 55 IBU), and it was somewhere between "understated", and "Just right". I'd go easy on the red oak. You can always add more or go longer, but only time can cure an over-oaked beer.
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:39 AM   #7
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I recommend oak cubes in lieu of the chips.
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:41 PM   #8
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I personally wouldn't use red oak at all. The flavor won't be the same. Just think about the smell of it when cutting, its totally off. While I have never aged anything in red oak, I have a few white oak barrels, and I couldn't imagine getting the same flavor profile out of red oak. I have also used both for cooking, white oak leaves a slightly sweet flavor behind, while the red oak is just overwhelmingly bitter ... not sure how much this would apply to aging, but its just something I've noticed.

Good luck.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cimirie View Post
Using this same theme, but instead of an IPA, what about a lambic? As I don't have an oak barrel handy, I'll be using chips very soon! Timeline? Amounts?
I just bottled a 3 gal batch of my Orval fermented Enkel that hung out in the secondary for 7 months, the last 3 with 2 oz of medium oak cubes. Oak level right now is perfect, but now I'm wishing I'd have gone longer as the Brett will continue to mature over the next year or so and I'm afraid the oak will fade.
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:10 PM   #10
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Here's how my experiment with red oak turned out:

I toasted the chips at 400F for 10 minutes and then sterilized them by putting them in a mason jar and pressure cooking them for 15 minutes. I added one ounce for just three days (just floating in the beer).

The first taste (after 3 weeks bottle conditioning) was pretty good but the oak bitterness was astringent and too strong, especially in the finish. I let them sit three more weeks and was pleased to find the bitterness had mellowed substantially. It's a nice drinkable IPA now. The bitterness from the oak is slightly different than what you'd get with hops, and it adds an interesting layer to the overall flavor. If we were in a hop shortage, like last year, I'd consider using oak instead of hops for bittering.


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