"barrel ageing" with oak chips in a keg?

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odie

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Not sure where to post so I'll drop it here...

I'm planning another RIS that will take a solid month plus to complete fermentation and then age for a year or longer.

Previously it was fermented "normally" in a bucket/carboy and transferred to a keg for long term (year plus) aging, leaving all the trub and oak chips behind. I use a couple/few ounces of oak chips in the fermenter.

Since I've moved into "ferment & serve from same keg" for most all my beers...my question is what concerns or issues will I face by dumping everything, including OAK CHIPS, into the keg and let it ferment and then leave everything in the keg (trub, yeast cake, oak chips) for over a year before I then serve the same keg.

I do use a floating dip tube and the oak chips will drop to the bottom along with everything else.

Primarily I'm concerned with the oak chips being in the beer for a year or longer. I see breweries doing imperials in old oak barrels for long term so I'm guessing/hoping that having oak chips in the serving keg all along up until the last pint is drunk will be fine.
 

DBhomebrew

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Somewhat related. I've got an ale in the cellar that I've treated to approximate classic British stock ales. Strong, racked over dry hops in a  brett 'infected' oak vat.

Old Ale

It's time to update that thread with a new tasting*. The  brett seems to have gone to sleep. Dry hops have totally dropped. The oak cubes are still floating.

You may want to consider cubes over chips. I don't know how worthwhile a very long soak with chips would be. Don't they give up all their flavor in a rather short time, weeks? In addition to the purported more nuanced flavor, cubes are probably less likely to cause an issue with your dip tube if they remain afloat.

*Complete
 
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IslandLizard

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I'd take the beer off the trub/yeast before bulk aging, it's not going to improve sitting on it, while yeast autolysis becomes a concern. Using a keg for that is perfect, you can take small samples too that way.
 

hottpeper13

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If you are trying to replicate a barrel beer you're miss one key component , and that is micro oxygenation. Since plastic buckets let in oxygen slowly I rack from fermenter onto whisky soaked oak in a bucket for 4-6 months then into keg. At least with the floating dip tube you can sample along the way and transfer to clean keg if getting too .....whatever.
 
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odie

odie

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Not really trying to replicate barrel aging. But the recipe calls for a few ounces of oak chips. After a couple/few weeks I'm pretty sure there is nothing left in those chips. But leaving them in the beer should not hurt anything either.

My real concern is leaving everything in for a long time. My Vienna lager keg just finished. Last pint was still good. It was fermented in the keg in January and all the yeast/trub was left in the same keg while it was drunk. But that was only about 6 months. This RIS might be 12 months before starting to drink it. Maybe longer, maybe sooner.
 

catalanotte

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I have picked up noticeable tannins if left on oak chips for too long, anyone else notice this? Obviously this is not an issue with true barrel aging. Limiting chips to 7-10 days or cubes to 2-3 weeks seems to be about right for my taste. Going to try oak spirals for the first time, anyone have advice on duration?
 

mashpaddled

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I have picked up noticeable tannins if left on oak chips for too long, anyone else notice this? Obviously this is not an issue with true barrel aging. Limiting chips to 7-10 days or cubes to 2-3 weeks seems to be about right for my taste. Going to try oak spirals for the first time, anyone have advice on duration?

The big problem with oak alternatives is that there is a lot of surface area that is cut with the grain so you extract flavor faster than barrels where the staves are cut with the grain. Spirals have a lot of the same problems as chips because they are cut with a lot of surface area. I would start tasting at about the same time as chips and make a judgment call.

Personally I think less wood for longer is closer to barrel flavor than a lot of wood for a short period of time.
 

cmac62

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My real concern is leaving everything in for a long time. My Vienna lager keg just finished. Last pint was still good. It was fermented in the keg in January and all the yeast/trub was left in the same keg while it was drunk. But that was only about 6 months. This RIS might be 12 months before starting to drink it. Maybe longer, maybe sooner.
Odie I'm guessing the Vienna was cold for the whole time it was in the keg. I have not tried it, but my fear of leaving everything (trub and yeast included) while aging would be autolysis because I'm guessing you would want to age it at cellar temps so you get all the benefits of the oak. I have let big beers sit on the yeast and trub for a couple of months without issue, but long term (year +) I don't think you want everything in there for that long.

I brewed an IRS late last month for a Christmas ale. It is sitting in the beer fridge at 35*f. I plan to transfer to a keg this weekend and then perhaps add some oak and let it sit at room temp for a couple of months before bottling (I don't like having 12%+ beers on tap, too dangerous). LOL. Anyway thanks for the thread, I was not even thinking about oaking my Xmas IRS. Now I am definitely going to. :mug:
 

Beerstein

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I have picked up noticeable tannins if left on oak chips for too long, anyone else notice this? Obviously this is not an issue with true barrel aging. Limiting chips to 7-10 days or cubes to 2-3 weeks seems to be about right for my taste. Going to try oak spirals for the first time, anyone have advice on duration?

Yes. I've done barrel aging, chip, and cube aging. I always put my chips/cube directly into primary (after letting them drink some whiskey), and never go longer than 2 weeks. With some types of oak or darker toast, it's shorter.

I would stay away from spirals. It's too much surface area to have any control over. It will over oak in days, not weeks.

YMMV
 

catalanotte

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I would stay away from spirals. It's too much surface area to have any control over.
I’ll tell you how it ended up. Dropped two spirals in 6.5 gal Sat and won’t be home to test until Fri. Hoping it wasn’t too much.
 

GoodTruble

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If you are trying to replicate a barrel beer you're miss one key component , and that is micro oxygenation. Since plastic buckets let in oxygen slowly I rack from fermenter onto whisky soaked oak in a bucket for 4-6 months then into keg. At least with the floating dip tube you can sample along the way and transfer to clean keg if getting too .....whatever.
The rubber seals on kegs allow some oxygen to permeate over time.
 

easttex

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I have picked up noticeable tannins if left on oak chips for too long, anyone else notice this? Obviously this is not an issue with true barrel aging. Limiting chips to 7-10 days or cubes to 2-3 weeks seems to be about right for my taste. Going to try oak spirals for the first time, anyone have advice on duration?
Similar experience. I wood aged a saison over cognac barrel chips for 2-3 weeks. Didn't get as much sugary wood as I expected. Was more of a tannic flavor at the back of the pallete.

I was advised by a local brewer  NOT to allow the oak chips to rest on the bottom of the keg so I bought a keg lid with the hanger tab in it and suspended the oak chips from the lid in a hop sock. I was also advised to start taking samples after 7-10 days and a sample ever few days afterwards so I'd get all the oak O wanted without overdoing it. I think I pulled the lid after 12 days(?). I simply swapped the lid out then pulled up the bleed valve on the new lid and CO2 purged the key's headspace. It turned out well enough but maybe not enough to be worth the effort again.
 

DuncB

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If you are trying to replicate a barrel beer you're miss one key component , and that is micro oxygenation. Since plastic buckets let in oxygen slowly I rack from fermenter onto whisky soaked oak in a bucket for 4-6 months then into keg. At least with the floating dip tube you can sample along the way and transfer to clean keg if getting too .....whatever.
What about a plastic keg for aging in? they are not as impervious as the SS versions.
 

DuncB

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I've ordered some oak dominoes about 1 inch by 3 inches. How many should I put in my Original Thomas hardy ale clone that was " vatted " in oak barrels for 6 months prior to bottling. I have a 23 litre batch in airlock secondary plastic fermenting keg?
 

GoodTruble

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What about a plastic keg for aging in? they are not as impervious as the SS versions.
According to KegLand, a fermzilla all-rounder allows less oxygen than a corny keg with rubber o-ring or glass carboy with silicone bung (though with a rubber bung would be better).

If you want some oxygen creep, a corny keg or glass carboy would still allow some over time.
 

DuncB

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I'm using something like this


So probably not as thick as a fermzilla. I'm surprised that Kegland reckon less diffusion of O2 through plastic than glass or stainless Corney.
My SS kegs are commercial Sankey D type 20 litres so no big rubber ring to let Oxygen through.
 

hawkwing

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If it’s under pressure it shouldn’t have much ingress. Not sure how a fermzilla is any better than a keg. It has o-rings etc too.
 

GoodTruble

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I'm using something like this


So probably not as thick as a fermzilla. I'm surprised that Kegland reckon less diffusion of O2 through plastic than glass or stainless Corney.
My SS kegs are commercial Sankey D type 20 litres so no big rubber ring to let Oxygen through.
It's not the SS or the glass that's the problem. It's the seal around the rubber o-ring and the silicone bing that allow the O2 to permeate.

@hawkwing - apparently "under pressure" does not prevent O2 from mixing in. This is not my analysis. I am just repeating what KegLand posted here.......

 

DuncB

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It's not the SS or the glass that's the problem. It's the seal around the rubber o-ring and the silicone bing that allow the O2 to permeate.

@hawkwing - apparently "under pressure" does not prevent O2 from mixing in. This is not my analysis. I am just repeating what KegLand posted here.......

The Oring is permeable not just the oring to metal contact point.
 

seatazzz

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Interesting thread. I've got an American Strong that I brewed back in May, when I kegged it I added a couple ounces of oak cubes that had been soaking in Brown Sugar Bourbon; they are still in the keg. Beer just won a blue ribbon at the Fair (don't have scores yet, getting them today). I don't notice any tannins, but as it's been aging the flavor has definitely changed over time. In the beginning I got a lot more oak flavor than bourbon; now it's over four months old I'm getting more bourbon. It also started out a bit sweet, and that sweetness is gone.
 

GoodTruble

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I have on tap a whiskey barrel stout that used oak chips soaked in honey whiskey. But I just left the chips in the fermenter for 14 days and did not put any in the keg. There is plenty of whiskey and oak flavor, but it is very surface level and not that deep-aged flavor you can get with more time and true barrel aging. Maybe chips in the keg would help get that.
 

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