Aging with rare woods

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

newguy89

New Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
1
A while back I got into the idea of using non-standard, or even rare, woods to age/mature whiskey. The foray that put a pause on that was pawpaw wood, which has acetogens and can be pretty doggone deadly.


I want to try acacia confusa wood (because, ya know, fun to try) but my big question is how would I go about finding if it's safe to use and how to get it?
 

monkeymath

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
433
Reaction score
426
Most woods that you can buy are not prepared in a way intended for culinary use. Instead of picking some rare wood from a remote part of the planet and then trying to find a source for it, I'd rather check the available sources for the woods they do offer.

When it comes to wood aging, most people first think of oak, but the role of oak has more to do with the wood's suitability for barrels than with its culinary impact. It's not like they made barrels from oak because oak tastes great. Tastewise, I've heard good things about maple. So yeah, I think it'd be fun to try out different woods - but I wouldn't necessarily try and find the most obscure wood to dump in my beer.
 
OP
N

newguy89

New Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
1
Be careful what wood you choose. Some of the tropical woods contain oils that can cause allergic reactions. E.g., rosewood, cocobolo, etc.
Oh yeah that's what happened with the pawpaw. An Acetogen that degrades neurotransmitters and such
 

PCABrewing

Recreational Brewer
Joined
Oct 28, 2021
Messages
291
Reaction score
300
A while back I got into the idea of using non-standard, or even rare, woods to age/mature whiskey. The foray that put a pause on that was pawpaw wood, which has acetogens and can be pretty doggone deadly.


I want to try acacia confusa wood (because, ya know, fun to try) but my big question is how would I go about finding if it's safe to use and how to get it?
While it is unlikely that you will find much data on aging beer with exotics, you can probably find data on using exotics, or most other hardwoods that are used for making things like cutting boards and salad bowl sets.
I'd try searching that type of info on Woodweb or other woodworking sites.
Wood used in making those type of culinary items is generally supposed to be "food safe".
As MaxStout points out, some woods have oils that can be a real problem if they are ingested.
Not just exotics but even things like Walnut will impart an unpleasant taste at minimum.
 

MaxStout

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 29, 2013
Messages
12,815
Reaction score
11,813
Location
Twin Cities
Look at some of the woodturning/penturning sites, as those folks are exposed to dust and shavings of the woods they turn. I do some woodturning and there are a few I have become sensitized to and no longer use (cocobolo, in particular).

Here's a site that makes some rough comparisons of the toxicities. But it's a hobbyist site, not a medical site, so use that as a start then dig deeper to investigate woods you might be considering. But there's a reason mankind has settled on just a few wood species for food and beverage contact after thousands of years. Oak, beech, hickory, mesquite, etc.

Some, like yew and oleander, are particularly toxic. Whatever you end up using, please be careful.


Edit: Here is a short trade industry paper (PDF) with general info about wood toxicity.
 
Last edited:

Abhishek Dewan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
198
Reaction score
156
Location
Maputo
Acacia is safe, been used in traditional Indian whiskies much before colonization. It is still used as a traditional tooth brush, to chew one side and use as brush( Babool daatun), it’s gum is edible too. You can also use mango wood, many woods are medicinal and used to make fermented medicines in Ayurveda. But as everyone pointed out, do your own research.
 

mashpaddled

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
635
Reaction score
379
Location
Denver, CO
A good starting point is wood other than oak you can readily assess as safe. Smoking woods are generally going to be safe for aging beer or spirits and comes with the benefit that the wood has been cured akin to barrel oak. That gives you several woods to explore at different levels of toast/char and in combination to play with. Once you burn through those I would start considering exotic options.
 
Top