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Old 11-24-2013, 02:57 PM   #1
timrox1212
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Got this idea to add bourbon soaked oak chips as well as vanilla beans into the secondary of my amber ale to give it a more exciting complex flavor. Has anyone ever done this? Usually I only see oak chips in porter/stouts so I didn't know. Thanks.

 
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:58 PM   #2
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I think it sounds delicious. I would definitely do it and will do that with my next amber. Or maybe I'll take a gallon of my fermenting amber now and try it.
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Old 11-24-2013, 03:08 PM   #3
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With the experiences I've had soaking oak chips in bourbon,different oaks,couple different bourbons,I'll tell you this. For an amber,use 1oz American white oak chips in an airtight container with just enough bourbon to go half way up the volume of chips. Seal'er up & toss it in the fridge when you pitch the yeast on the beer. Toss the chips & bourbon once in a while to keep'em coated,kinda like when you're marinading meat.
The chips will soak up the bourbon & weep tears of resin. So at secondary time,one of the few times I use one,I line my wide mouth radiator funnel with a sanitized hop sack & place that in the neck of my better bottle.
Then pour the chips & bourbon through it into the bottle. Tie off hop sack of chips & work it down into the bottle. I've found that 2ozs won't fit through the neck. So no more than 1oz chips per sack. I used 2oz chips to a couple jiggers reg light colored Jim Beam bourbon. It was for a PM Traditional stout kit from Midwest I brewed for this very pourpose.
Aaaanyway,...wow was the oak flavor complex with the bourbon @ bottling time! White oak def gives more woody flavor than medium toast French oak. You can really taste the spiciness of the wood,like when you use it in the bbq pit. Black oak is spicier yet.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:28 PM   #4
timrox1212
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Yea I've used oak and bourbon before and loved it so I thought I would try something new. I think I'll go for it.

 
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:33 PM   #5
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I use it often in stouts and porters. I never thought of using it in an Amber ale. It doesn't seem like something I would do with a really citrusy amber, but I have a nice Citra amber that is very mellow with more fruit than mellon, that I think it might punch up. Might be a future experiment.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:48 PM   #6
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I've done it and actually won a beer competition in the "specialty" category with that beer!

It was actually a mistake, though. I made an "Arrogant Bastard" clone. I totally bagged up my efficiency, and got something like 60%. My OG was something like 1.070 instead of my intended OG. The beer was good, but definitely not an AB clone. It was a bit harsh at first, but I knew it would age well (but be less hoppy), so I bottled two gallons and aged 3 gallons on oak chips. It took the oak FAST, and so it was over-oaked as well.

Uh-oh! Anyway, I bottled it and 6 months later it so fantastic you can't believe it. The oak faded a lot, but the beer was rich and just unbelievably good. So I entered in a competition as an "oaked Imperial Amber ale".

It was great.

I do have a point here! Oaking usually requires a "big"-ish beer. The type of oak matters. French oak, medium toast, is a pretty good bet while American oak can be mush harsher and aggressive. The lighter oaks have vanilla-ish flavors, while dark oak can be very tannic. It's a bit tough to balance the tannins of the oak with a less-than-flavorful beer, so that's why you see it most commonly in stouts and other big complex beers. If you can manage to use a lighter toast oak and only oak a short time, as well as let it age a bit, you can make a very nice amber with oak. The hops fade with age, though, so you may want to redry hop if you want a hoppy finish, or you could simply let the oak be the dominant flavor with the caramel flavor of the crystal malt.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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My plan was to brew a fat tire clone then add 2 vanilla beans and 4oz medium oak chips soaked in 8oz of bourbon to my secondary for 1-2 weeks. This is what I've done for my RIS and I loved it.

 
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timrox1212 View Post
My plan was to brew a fat tire clone then add 2 vanilla beans and 4oz medium oak chips soaked in 8oz of bourbon to my secondary for 1-2 weeks. This is what I've done for my RIS and I loved it.
Well, a Fat Tire is a wimpy beer and I doubt it could hold up to the vanilla, let alone the oak and bourbon.

I like FT, but by wimpy I mean lower in gravity and complex flavor. I think that adding vanilla, oak, and bourbon to this would not be a positive change.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:55 AM   #9
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An amber could be easy to overpower with oak and bourbon, let alone vanilla.
I've done an amber with OG 12.5°Pish and had it turn out well with about a handful of 1 week of bourbon soaked medium toast French oak for a week. Great beer that everyone loved.

 
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