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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Aging on wood?
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:13 AM   #1
dummkauf
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Default Aging on wood?

Ok, so most beers, liquors, wines, etc... are aged on some sort of oak. Is there a reason, other than price, that oak is preferred over other hardwoods(say cherry, maple, walnut, etc...).

The woodworker in me is thinking that oak is one of the cheaper hardwoods, so it would make sense that commercial brewers would prefer cheaper barrels, but is oak ideal for imparting a woody flavor in beer, or are other woods good, or even better, for this, but just aren't used due to the higher prices of other hardwoods?


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Old 12-12-2010, 06:48 AM   #2
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I wouldn't necessarily say that MOST beer, wine, liquor, etc. are aged on oak. For wines and whiskey this may be true. Most beers and other liquors aren't aged on wood at all (though some are).

As for the type of wood used, I would guess that oak was one of the more readily available woods that was really tough and made a barrel that held up well (just a guess, though).

I think experimenting with other types of wood is a great idea and some folks are already doing it: I've had a couple of great beers aged on spanish cedar (check out Cigar City's Humidor series), I've had the DFH beer that is aged on Pao Ferro (aka Morado), and I've also had a beer aged on maple (though I don't recall which one exactly).
I, personally (also a woodworker, luthier to be precise) have thought of aging some beer on bloodwood just because it smells soooooo good when you work with it.


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Old 12-12-2010, 07:01 AM   #3
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Guess I should have specified, I was referring to the alocholic beverages that "are" aged on wood. I am aware that many are not, but the vast majority that are aged on wood are done with oak.

Do you know if those beers aged on other woods were toasted or not? Also, if you do a bloodwood let me know how it turns out, I seem to recall that stuff being around $15 to $20 a sq/ft and I wouldn't even want to think of what a barrel would cost, even the chips/cubes of bloodwood would be expensive.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:35 AM   #4
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With all of these I think cubes or spirals were used. I'm not sure about the morado or maple but I'm pretty sure that the spanish cedar wasn't toasted (at least it didn't taste to me as though it was). With the spanish cedar (which I've heard are spirals), I don't believe that they leave the beer on the wood too long since it is very fragrant. (Also, when using smaller bits of wood-spirals, chips, etc.-to give the beer some wood character it is my understanding that the beer picks up the wood character faster because of the increased surface area in contact with the beer and if you leave the beer on the smaller pieces too long it will start extracting tannins from the wood which might not be a good thing.)
As for the bloodwood, I have a few scraps from some inlay, a couple sheets of leftover veneer and a piece of 6/4 that is about 4 1/2"x60"+/- that I picked up on the cheap a while back so no real outlay there. I've also got a TON of spanish cedar laying around that I've thought of using. My idea for both has been to use plane shavings (though getting nice fluffy shavings from the bloodwood is easier said than done since it is extremely brittle) and to leave the beer on the wood for a relatively short time. It'll probably take some experimenting but I think the results could be really good.
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:30 PM   #5
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I'm having difficulty recalling the name but I recently had a Japanese IPA that was cedar aged...very good. I'd bet you're correct that historically there was some financial reason that oak was used. At this point in history though it's such a distinctive taste that many people just associate it with wood aged beverages.

Like many things in craft or homebrewing, there's no reason why other hardwoods can't be used...only creativity (and finances) really limit horizons.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:04 PM   #6
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One thing with the bloodwood that I didn't mention (and I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing) is that I'm pretty sure I'll end up with VERY red beer.


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