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Old 03-08-2013, 02:43 PM   #1
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Default Extended Oak ageing

I've become very interested in making an oak aged barleywine, but I do not want to buy a barrel for ageing it. Is there a general rule for how long barleywine should sit on oak/ How long is should be in bottles after it comes off the oak? I plan on using chips, is there a rule for home much less time I should have the beer on oak due to the increase in surface area?

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Old 03-08-2013, 04:08 PM   #2
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For a barleywine you probably want cubes, not chips. There are no solid guidelines, you'll just have to taste as you go along. Check out this thread and listen to the linked podcast:

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Old 03-08-2013, 04:20 PM   #3
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Chips, IMO/IME, suck for aging. IF you want something done super fast, that you'll be drinking quickly (under 3 months from first to last bottle poured) then chips can be ok. Get some cubes and do a better job of it. Staves are an even better option. You can also try spirals if you want, or the honeycomb patterned wood.

I typically use 3-4oz of medium toast Hungarian cubes per 6 gallons of beer to age. I also let them sit for at least 4-6 weeks before even looking at the batch.

For time in the bottle, it depends on how fast it carbonates. I wouldn't even THINK about bottling (or kegging) the batch until it was otherwise ready to drink.

If you're concerned about getting too much oak too fast, then start with smaller addition amounts (by weight). You can easily add more to the batch. It can take some time to get too much to mellow with age.

BTW, IF you go with cubes be prepared to have the flavors mutate over time. This is why I don't recommend chips for something going more than 3 months before the final bottle/glass is consumed. After a short amount of time (3-4 months) the oak addition from chips can seriously mutate. I had a batch go from great oak flavor/aroma to vanilla in that much time. 100% disappointment there. Cubes have NOT done this to me.
Also, if you can, see about getting parts from one use barrels. I have some from Maker's Mark that I'm cutting up and using in batches. I have enough to last me a good while too. It doesn't take much work, or tools, to get these into a shape that works.
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