8 months too long to age on oak?

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kaj030201

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my idea is to age an 18% Imperial Stout on three types of oak for a total of 8 months- 3 months light American oak, 3 months medium Hungarian oak, final 2 months dark French Oak. Is 8 months too long?
 

Jekster

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I have very little experience using oak. However, with any thing like oak, extracts, etc, it's always best to use taste to determine length / amount. I would just draw samples every few days and keep a running log. When you achieve the desired amount move to a new cask, bottle, etc based on how you feel about the flavor.
 

Evan!

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Hard to really say for sure as I've never done a stout that big...but I did make a 15% Mephistopheles clone and gave it a couple weeks of oak---and that was plenty. 8 months, well, like I said, I can't speak from experience here, but my educated guess would be that the final product would taste like gnawing on oak bark.
 
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kaj030201

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what about using a much lower amount of oak chips for the duration?
 

landhoney

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kaj030201 said:
what about using a much lower amount of oak chips for the duration?
I think that's a great idea. If you have 8 months I'd add the oak at a verrry low level to start, and then taste after a month, then add a bit more and so on until the level begins to be where you want. You get a better/rounder/more dynamic flavor profile from the oak when its in contact with the beer for longer. But of course, you don't want too much oak flavor/tannin/etc. However, the oak character will fade over time, if you're planning on keeping the bottled beer for a long time, you'd want the oak character a little higher at bottling(with the expectation that when you start drinking them months away the oak will have mellowed to a good level).

And use cubes, not chips if you can.
 
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kaj030201

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oak cubes, huh? sounds good. i'm thinking .5 oz at a time...
 

Atl300zx

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i am planning a 5 gallon batch using 2 oz oak cubes (not american oak - too harsh) and aging the beer for 4 weeks with the oak cubes, then 3 more weeks without them. I hope this helps.

P.S. This batch will be similar to Innis & Gunn if u've ever had it.
 
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kaj030201

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ok so heres the new idea. it seems like most of you think less contact time is better. i dont want my beer to taste like oak juice. so i think i will do this:

1st 45 days- .75 oz american oak
2nd 45 days- OFF
3rd 45 days- .75 oz hungarian oak
4th 45 days- OFF
30 days (month 7)- .75 oz french oak
final 30 days(month 8)- OFF

it might be a lot of work for nothing, but you don't know until you try, right?
 

Evan!

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I think the trick here will be to play it by ear. After the first 30 days or so, take a sample and see how it smells & tastes. Keep doing this until you're comfortable with how much oak flavor has been imparted.
 

ohiobrewtus

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I've only used oak chips once. I used 2 oz. for two weeks and the oak flavor was overpowering for 4 months. After that it started to subside and after 6 months of again it finally had the character that I was looking for.

I can't even imagine what 8 months of aging with oak would do.
 
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kaj030201

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zoebisch01 said:
Make sure you hold them in an 190 °F oven for about an hour to make certain nothing is living on the outsides of those.
great idea! i actually hadn't thought of that. i was probably going to boil them, but the oven will keep much more of the flavor. thanks!
 

Atl300zx

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On a side note, you can take chunks of oak like this, char them with a torch, and then place them in a whiskey bottle for a few months. After a few months use the oak in your beer, and your whiskey will taste a hell of alot better too.
 

landhoney

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kaj030201 said:
it seems like most of you think less contact time is better. i dont want my beer to taste like oak juice.
That's because most don't want(or have not) to wait that long.

ohiobrewtus said:
I've only used oak chips once. I used 2 oz. for two weeks and the oak flavor was overpowering for 4 months. After that it started to subside and after 6 months of again it finally had the character that I was looking for.
I can't even imagine what 8 months of aging with oak would do.
What if you added less oak? Would one cube for 8 months be overpowering? I don't know of any commercial wine or beer that is aged on oak for only two weeks. There are various reasons for this, but I think one is that a large amount of oak for a short period does not yield as good a finished product as less oak for longer periods.
 

Atl300zx

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Innis & Gunn is aged in oak barrells for only 30 days. Then they blend all the barrells together and let them age for 47 more days in a "marrying tun". Something to consider.
 

mot

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this depends on what type of oak your using...oak chips, cubes, those spiral thingies

Chips work very quickly i would say 2 to 3 weeks top
Cubes are a little longer
and the dowel things I think are around 6 months minimum
 

explosivebeer

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I researched oak chips a while ago but have yet to use them myself. Still, it seems that American oak is much stronger than French. I have no idea about Hungarian. From what I learned from online resources and the extremely knowledgeable owner of my LHBS was that American oak usually only needs a few weeks to impart a hearty oak character, whereas French oak can take several months. The primary reason for using one over the other is how long you can/want to let them sit. If you're going long-term, French is definitely the better option.

But those bourbon barrel oak chips look pretty good as well. I'd just keep sampling it and make sure you end up on the oaky side of the spectrum since it will mellow with time.
 

explosivebeer

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By the way Kaj, how are you getting your brew up to 18%?? I'd be curious to see the recipe and methods you're using.
 
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kaj030201

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explosivebeer said:
By the way Kaj, how are you getting your brew up to 18%?? I'd be curious to see the recipe and methods you're using.
http://www.beertools.com/html/recipe.php?view=7190

the numbers are slightly off. i will probably be boiling more like 8-9 gallons of wort. i may do 2 seperate mashes, and not add the DME and candi sugar until the 2nd boil 3-4 days later. will pitch 2 vials of WLP099 (super high gravity) and aerate the S#!T out of it!

just an experiment. who knows if i will get the 18% or even get the yeast to work at all, but its worth a shot!
 

wild

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I made an Oak Aged Bourbon Porter using 4 oz. of medium American chips and 2 oz. of medium French chips (I had the French left over from a previous brew). Soaked them in Jim Beam Black Label for a week and added them to the secondary. I let the secondary sit for 7 months. Kegged in July and tapped in December. It's very oaky but very nice.

Wild
 
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kaj030201

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wild said:
I made an Oak Aged Bourbon Porter using 4 oz. of medium American chips and 2 oz. of medium French chips (I had the French left over from a previous brew). Soaked them in Jim Beam Black Label for a week and added them to the secondary. I let the secondary sit for 7 months. Kegged in July and tapped in December. It's very oaky but very nice.

Wild
wow thats a long time and a lot of oak! sounds like a very enticing brew...;) i feel a little better about my numbers now.
 
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kaj030201

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ok so i sampled the wort yesterday and maybe its the nelson sauvin finishing hops or maybe its the very high alcohol content, but dammit it tastes like grape wine!! :ban: i am super happy about this, but i am having a dilemma- i have 2 kinds of oak: chunks from a bourbon barrel and chunks from a cabernet barrel. i plan on using BOTH types, but which one should I use first? i want to compliment the wine-y flavor but also want to add the smoothness and complexity of the bourbon. hmmmmm.......
 

Couevas

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I don't know of any commercial wine or beer that is aged on oak for only two weeks.
Sorry to drag this out....but just for arguments sake, Firestone Walker splits their batches of Double Barrel Ale and puts the portion for only 1 week on oak.

The Firestone Union incorporates 60-gallon, medium-toast American oak barrels. The portion of beer that is fermented in the Firestone Union is racked to oak barrels 24 hours after pitching (adding yeast to) the unitank. The beer ferments in the oak for one week, after which it is racked and blended back to the unitank.
 
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