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Old 07-24-2012, 11:00 PM   #11
RichBenn
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I'm a winemaker, as well. In "the" winemaking forum, a similar question was asked. I don't remember all the details, but the bottom line was yes, some other woods were historically used, based upon what was available. I think Redwood was once used in the US.

However, if I recall correctly, nothing tastes as good as toasted oak. Virtually all oak for brewing, winemaking, and whiskey (AFAIK) is toasted to some degree or another, whether in barrels, chips, spirals, or cubes. New oak imparts flavor VERY fast, which is probably why old whiskey barrels are good for brewing and aging. With wine, we put in new oak for as little as a couple weeks for that reason.

To get back to your original question, yeah, trying some other woods may be fun. However, how much beer are you willing to risk? Also, reading through your list of woods - although I would agree that toasted walnut smells the best of the woods you have, I seem to recall something about why nothing grows close to walnut trees. Something worth researching - you don't want to poison yourself!

 
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:14 PM   #12
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Oh- wanted to amend my previous post- remember that most woodworking/lumber grade woods have been treated with various chemicals, typically preservatives. You need to make absolutely sure from your sources the wood is untreated or "food grade." Alcohol and water are two excellent solvents- they'll pull anything nasty out of the wood that they can.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:19 PM   #13
Stretch1991
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My walnut, cherry, and maple were hand selected by me from family friends who have property in Michigan and were only kiln dried so I know they are safe. I will look into the walnut issue, my LHBS sells all grains for $1.50 a pound so I am okay with wasting a lot of test batches. I have a partner and am working with a couple investors on a Nanobrewery anyways and need something that will make us unique enough to get funding. They like te beers I've made so far but want something that sets us apart. That's why I have explored Gruit beers and now want to try this
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:47 AM   #14
petey_c
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I recently did an experiment with a five gallon wheat beer batch. Half had beechwood chips (2-3 oz.) and half did not. While I couldn't pin down a specific taste, I thought the brew with the chips tasted better.

 
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:39 PM   #15
JoeBob
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I may be a month late but the new issue of Zymurgy has a nice article on Wood Aging. Specific to this is the passage about not raking the beer too soon due to the perceived woody flavor after a few weeks. After that harsher flavor comes sweetness from the wood near the 4 week mark. Patience comes in handy when wood aging! I've got a huge very old cherry tree I may use a branch for an experiment as well as a wealth of exotic woods I've been itching to do something with. Black Walnut, Sapele, Brazilian Cherry, White Oak, Ash, Tiger Wood... whatever the local high end stair company want the give me!

 
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:45 PM   #16
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Second on the walnut being dangerous. I know you can't throw walnut sawdust away, you have to burn it or something....something about toxins in the wood...?
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:28 AM   #17
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Juglone, it is a toxin to many plants and the saw dust can affect horses. Juglone is produced by Black Walnut and Butternut trees and is poorly soluble in water and only the roots carry high conentrations. Since Butternut was used in the experiment in the Sept/Oct 2012 Zymurgy article I'd say it's safe. There are plenty of other types I can try too, www.eztread.com

 
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