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.
He who drinks beer sleeps well. He who sleeps well cannot sin. He who does not sin goes to heaven.
Another HERMS rig...