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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Bourbon barrel Oak aging
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:56 AM   #1
fatsachs
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Default Bourbon barrel Oak aging

So I've recently had the good fortune to be able to acquire Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel pieces and oak chips from the barrels! I know this has got to be a pretty awesome score right??? They're left over from my workplace where we convert the barrels into barrel sinks. THEY SMELL AWESOME!!! A good size cutout is made in the top of the barrel, a sink is dropped in, plumbing lines run and voila! So, my questions are as follows, can I and how do I brew a bourbon barrel ale with these materials? Are the burnt oak chips good or should I discard them? Shall I take a table saw and cut a half inch slice of the inner barrel portion of these cutouts I'm getting? I can clearly see an absorption line into the oak of these cutouts. I just need some direction with this, I have no idea how to go about it other than the fact that I will be bulk aging it in a secondary. Also how much should be used for a 5 gallon batch? I'm friggin stoked about this!


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Old 09-12-2011, 11:41 PM   #2
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Heres what I'm getting btw.


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Old 09-13-2011, 12:28 AM   #3
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I'm curious about this too. I live near Lynchburg and have some people on the lookout for Jack Daniels barrels I can cut up for the same reason. I do know you put the chips in the secondary. How many or how long I got no clue.
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Old 09-13-2011, 03:31 PM   #4
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Well this certainly isn't the response I was hoping for I'll tell ya that. Do the replies typically come in at a 1 per 48 hours rate? Do I need to post again elsewhere? I was trying to be proper and only post in the right forum category.
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Old 09-13-2011, 03:59 PM   #5
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I have used cut up Jack Daniel barrels that were packaged for grill smokers. I don't see why yours wouldn't work, and probably would be better. Putting it in secondary would be the way to extract the oak and bourbon flavors. Sanitizing the wood, would be important, since critters could have gained entry since it has been cut up. I would get some Buffalo Trace bourbon and soak the wood for a couple of days, then rack the beer on to it. I guess you will have to cut up the pieces to get it in the carboy.
A great bourbon porter is one of my favorites, but even some lighter beers can be awesome in a bourbon barrel. Kentucky bourbon barrel ale is one of my favorites.

You will just have to experiment and see how it comes together. How about a 5 gallon batch split into several 1 gallon carboys, and put varying amount of the oak in. That's and experiment that I would love to do.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:54 PM   #6
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Well guess what I've got in primary right now? A robust porter! I'm gonna do this then, rack over four gallons to my secondary and do a seperate experimental 1 gallon with the chips! What do you think, about a half ounce of barrel chips for 1 gallon bulk aged for a couple months? Also should I use the unchared oak, leave the chared layer on? Or I can use ALL chared flakes from the bag in my picture?
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:27 PM   #7
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What are the measurements of that hunk of barrel? Maybe secondary in a plastic pail with that sucker in the pail. Of course you wouldn't want it in there very long, that much wood will have a strong impact on the beer.

I've heard of people using small barrels that hold 1 - 5 gallons, but leave the beer in there shorter periods of time. The smaller the batch on that amount of wood means shorter exposure time to not ruin the beer. So, I would taste test it every so often and pull it once it gets to a flavor you like.
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:32 PM   #8
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I've heard that the strong oak flavor fades greatly and mellows nicely over time. So if I bottle it when it is tasting spot on then in a month or two it's going to taste very weak isn't it?
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:01 AM   #9
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the big thing is going to be surface area, its my understanding that the greater the surface area the less time needed. So the chips would require much less time then cubes. I know that i recently purchased french oak cubes that I would say are about 1cmx1cmc1cm and it said 2oz for a 5 gallon batch. I plan on soaking mine in bourbon for a month then dropping them in a barley wine for about 6 months. The chips should be added to a secondary for 2-3 weeks on the other hand due to there increased surface area. hope this helps.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:19 AM   #10
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+1 on the surface area with time as a factor as well. I used 3 oz of chips for 2 weeks, and didn't get the oak that I wanted. This latest batch I am using 2oz cubes in a 5 gallon batch. I plan to leave it for a month. Many reviews say this is too much, but I like the oak and want it heavy. I also heard it mellow over time, so if it is too strong then will just let it sit.

1/2 oz in one gallon may not need as much time.

Regarding the char. I would use the charred chips. The char should provide some roasted notes, with vanilla.


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