Adventures in wood chips

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Mar 7, 2005
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What can anyone tell me about using wood as an ingredient? I'm on my second batch now, a partial mash Irish red ale that is bubbling away like a champ in the primary, and for some reason I have a definite urge to put some wood in there when I rack it to secondary. I read somewhere that oak gives a sort of spicy taste, but I's really not sure how much to use. Any comments or suggestions here would be much appreciated.
You pretty much just toss in a handful of chips in my experience...start small. Maybe a half ounce or an ounce at a guess? I'd steam or boil them briefly to kill some of the buggies.
The one and only time I used wood chips in a recipe was to get an attempt to get an oak barrel taste out of an IPA. Well, it was a disaster. The wood barrels they age beer in have been chard and that may be the key. The beer I made ended out being laughed at (one of my only experiences with that kind of reaction to my homebrew) because of the distinctive taste and smell of plywood. So.... maybe try charing the chips with a hand held propane torch or something along that line and put them in the fermenter (secondary if you use one) after the fermentation is mostly completed. I've never tried this, it's only an idea...

I have been think about this a bit, I have a smoker and thought that maybe smoking the grains a bit might work. I think this is how they make scotch. Might be fun to try.

Smoking the grains would give them that burnt flavor like with the Rauchbier from Bamberg's Schlenklera Gasthof.

I worked in Bamberg for 5 years. We ate/drank at Maisel's Gasthof at least once a week. I had two other breweries within a mile of my house.
doesnt wood fermentation create methanol. aint this highly dangerous. tell me if im wrong but thats wot i heard
The only time I've used oak it was soaked in whiskey first. As a matter of fact I have some soaking in Wild Turkey right now that will end up in a brown ale.
Few weeks back I drank a mc tarnahans IPA that was Oak aged, and I thought the flavor left something to be desired, a bit sour/tart and weird I guess. Might be an aquired taste or something. I think I would save the wood chip thing for brewing wine, which realy needs that cask aged flavor.