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Old 12-05-2011, 03:57 PM   #1
winnph
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Feb 2010
Takoma Park, MD
Posts: 144


I'll start by saying I've never used wood in a homebrew, but I have become something of an avid experimenter. It's been awhile since I brewed a beer that didn't have something bizarre going on in it (wild yeast, sour bugs, unusual fermentables, spices, etc.).

On a recent trip to Mexico I brought back a bunch of vanilla beans, so I am wanting to brew something that is really richly vanilla-laden. Since vanilla and wood are such a common combo, I thought I'd try that out. Rather than buying something I can get for free, though, I'm considering just sawing a branch off one of the trees in my back yard. Other than tree species that I would be wary of using (pine, holly, etc.), I have two species of oak, a hickory tree, and a maple tree.

So, what process should I use to turn a tree branch into a ready-to-use wood chip or cube? Which tree or trees should I use? I only have the usual yardwork tools -- hand saws, a hatchet, machete, etc. I imagine I should start by selecting a wrist-sized or larger branch, shaving off the bark, cutting it into smallish cubes/chips, and then some combination of drying and toasting in the oven.

If I don't get a response, I'll probably just play around with each one and see what I come up with.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:16 PM   #2
dgremark
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Jan 2011
owasso, oklahoma
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I just did an IPA and used oak chips lightly browned in a pan then boiled for 10 minutes. I haven't tried it but the oak sure smelled good during the boil! I hope to try a bottle or two by New Years!

By the way I added it 3 days after the main fermentation happened!

 
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:21 PM   #3
winnph
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Feb 2010
Takoma Park, MD
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Did you use fresh wood or dried/cured wood?
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:25 PM   #4
dgremark
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Dried oak stick and just made small chips, about the size of a penny or less.

 
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:38 PM   #5
winnph
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Feb 2010
Takoma Park, MD
Posts: 144

Sounds good, let me know how it turns out! I'm trying to decide whether I can just use fresh (i.e., still wet with sap) wood chips and just dry them out during the toasting/browning process, or whether that will produce some kind of off flavor.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:48 PM   #6
dgremark
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Jan 2011
owasso, oklahoma
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Do you have a dehidrator? May work..........

 
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:51 PM   #7
winnph
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Feb 2010
Takoma Park, MD
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Well first I want to decide whether it's necessary. If it is necessary, I imagine a low temperature in the oven for a couple hours should do the trick.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:20 PM   #8
SouthBay
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Dec 2010
Olympia, WA
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If you check out homedistiller.org's forums, theres a sticky thread that details what flavors white oak takes on at different toasting temperatures. It's in a colorful little graph.

Just wrap it tightly in tinfoil, and bake at the desired temp. Btw, different species of a oak will give varied results, same with maples. red oak is more smokey, peppery, but can be overpowering by itself. American white has a hint of coconut, while french white has more vanilla. Sugar maple is kind of bacony
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:48 PM   #9
winnph
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Feb 2010
Takoma Park, MD
Posts: 144

Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthBay View Post
If you check out homedistiller.org's forums, theres a sticky thread that details what flavors white oak takes on at different toasting temperatures. It's in a colorful little graph.

Just wrap it tightly in tinfoil, and bake at the desired temp. Btw, different species of a oak will give varied results, same with maples. red oak is more smokey, peppery, but can be overpowering by itself. American white has a hint of coconut, while french white has more vanilla. Sugar maple is kind of bacony
Thanks! Do you know whether I should dry the wood before baking it, if it's freshly cut from the tree?

I think I'm going to brew something reminiscent of a Belgian tripel and use some red oak (mine is a northern red oak) and maple (mine is a Norway maple), in addition to a couple vanilla pods. It's not meant to come out perfectly, just an experiment!
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:37 PM   #10
SouthBay
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Dec 2010
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I think the wood will dry out in the oven. I did some red oak that way, split into 1/2 x 1/2 x 2 inch sticks. Did some at 350, some at 400 and some at 450. I like the 400 best. I found that 3 parts white oak to 1 p part red made a good blend for whiskey (similar to the peppery taste of jim beam black). fwiw, I then blasted the outside with a butane torch to char it, on the red oak.

I've oaked an ipa and a black bourbon old ale, but only with white oak. im curious to see what you come up with
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