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Old 02-05-2010, 02:00 PM   #1
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Default Oak cubes in my RIS

I was at the LHBS and I bought some oak cubes, the package says minimum contact time is 8 weeks. Has anyone used these and what kind of results did you get? If it helps I'm going to put it in a big RIS to give out at xmas. Has anyone soaked them in bourbon and how did you sanitize them?

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Old 02-05-2010, 02:39 PM   #2
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You can put them in a small pot with a little water, cover, and steam them for 15 minutes. Let cool with the lid in place. When you add them to the secondary, you can pour the small amount of water in there too. If you want bourbon flavor, you can just add bourbon to the beer.

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Old 02-07-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
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I used them in my barleywine. I had them in secondary for 8 weeks and the barleywine had a huge oak flavor. It needed at least six months of aging to subside the oak overtones. I recommend tasting your beer after a couple weeks and be sure it has the flavor you want.
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
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The kind of oak and the toast level will play a large roll in the flavor and intensity imparted. I would do as Poppy said and do periodic tastes as people seem to give a lot of very general guidelines in how to do stuff in the homebrew world, that 8 weeks is just another example.

I have soaked mine in vodka and buck the tiger hoping not to get an infection. It would probably be easier to boil though.
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:50 PM   #5
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Typically, I don't think bourbon is high enough proof to actually sanitize the cubes. It does however do a nice job extracting flavor from the cubes and infusing the spirit. To sanitize mine, I place then in a shallow bowl barely covered with water and then boil the heck out of them in the microwave. I like to pitch the oak and boiled water for a lot of oakiness. If you want less, toss out the oak infused water and just pitch the cubes which will be slightly more neutral after boiling.
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:39 PM   #6
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1 ounce per 5 gallons is more than enough for me. I find that it gives lots of character that can be built upon over 4,6,or 8 months of contact time. Soak them in bourbon for about 2-3 weeks, dump out the booze and just pitch the cubes right into the keg. Seal and forget about it for as long as you can.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:26 PM   #7
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I soaked mine in bourbon for a week or two, shaking up the jar and turning it a few times a day. I then poured off the old bourbon instead of infusing as I was worried the oak flavor would be over the top given I used fresh American White Oak that I cut and toasted myself. No infection/souring, and after four months on the oak in secondary I racked to a keg and have the cubes back soaking in bourbon. When I use them a second time I will pour the old bourbon in with cubes.

According to an old BYO I have the bourbon will penetrate and sanitize the oak as long as you never let the oak surfaces go dry. Wine, OTOH, is not high enough in alcohol and wine kegs are best left to strictly sour beers such as flanders reds.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:59 PM   #8
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One nice thing about boiling them in some water in the microwave is that besides sanitizing it leeches out some of the harsher oakiness from the cubes. Otherwise, it takes a few batches of use for cubes to mellow out, as Poppy commented on above.

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