Bourbon barrel Oak aging

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fatsachs

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So I've recently had the good fortune to be able to acquire Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel pieces and oak chips from the barrels! I know this has got to be a pretty awesome score right??? They're left over from my workplace where we convert the barrels into barrel sinks. THEY SMELL AWESOME!!! :cross: A good size cutout is made in the top of the barrel, a sink is dropped in, plumbing lines run and voila! So, my questions are as follows, can I and how do I brew a bourbon barrel ale with these materials? Are the burnt oak chips good or should I discard them? Shall I take a table saw and cut a half inch slice of the inner barrel portion of these cutouts I'm getting? I can clearly see an absorption line into the oak of these cutouts. I just need some direction with this, I have no idea how to go about it other than the fact that I will be bulk aging it in a secondary. Also how much should be used for a 5 gallon batch? I'm friggin stoked about this!:rockin:
 

Cimerian

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I'm curious about this too. I live near Lynchburg and have some people on the lookout for Jack Daniels barrels I can cut up for the same reason. I do know you put the chips in the secondary. How many or how long I got no clue.
 
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fatsachs

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Well this certainly isn't the response I was hoping for I'll tell ya that. Do the replies typically come in at a 1 per 48 hours rate? Do I need to post again elsewhere? I was trying to be proper and only post in the right forum category. :(
 

BeerWard

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I have used cut up Jack Daniel barrels that were packaged for grill smokers. I don't see why yours wouldn't work, and probably would be better. Putting it in secondary would be the way to extract the oak and bourbon flavors. Sanitizing the wood, would be important, since critters could have gained entry since it has been cut up. I would get some Buffalo Trace bourbon and soak the wood for a couple of days, then rack the beer on to it. I guess you will have to cut up the pieces to get it in the carboy.
A great bourbon porter is one of my favorites, but even some lighter beers can be awesome in a bourbon barrel. Kentucky bourbon barrel ale is one of my favorites.

You will just have to experiment and see how it comes together. How about a 5 gallon batch split into several 1 gallon carboys, and put varying amount of the oak in. That's and experiment that I would love to do.
 
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fatsachs

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Well guess what I've got in primary right now? A robust porter! I'm gonna do this then, rack over four gallons to my secondary and do a seperate experimental 1 gallon with the chips! What do you think, about a half ounce of barrel chips for 1 gallon bulk aged for a couple months? Also should I use the unchared oak, leave the chared layer on? Or I can use ALL chared flakes from the bag in my picture?
 

frailn

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What are the measurements of that hunk of barrel? Maybe secondary in a plastic pail with that sucker in the pail. Of course you wouldn't want it in there very long, that much wood will have a strong impact on the beer.

I've heard of people using small barrels that hold 1 - 5 gallons, but leave the beer in there shorter periods of time. The smaller the batch on that amount of wood means shorter exposure time to not ruin the beer. So, I would taste test it every so often and pull it once it gets to a flavor you like.
 
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fatsachs

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I've heard that the strong oak flavor fades greatly and mellows nicely over time. So if I bottle it when it is tasting spot on then in a month or two it's going to taste very weak isn't it?
 

Biscostew

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the big thing is going to be surface area, its my understanding that the greater the surface area the less time needed. So the chips would require much less time then cubes. I know that i recently purchased french oak cubes that I would say are about 1cmx1cmc1cm and it said 2oz for a 5 gallon batch. I plan on soaking mine in bourbon for a month then dropping them in a barley wine for about 6 months. The chips should be added to a secondary for 2-3 weeks on the other hand due to there increased surface area. hope this helps.
 

BeerWard

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+1 on the surface area with time as a factor as well. I used 3 oz of chips for 2 weeks, and didn't get the oak that I wanted. This latest batch I am using 2oz cubes in a 5 gallon batch. I plan to leave it for a month. Many reviews say this is too much, but I like the oak and want it heavy. I also heard it mellow over time, so if it is too strong then will just let it sit.

1/2 oz in one gallon may not need as much time.

Regarding the char. I would use the charred chips. The char should provide some roasted notes, with vanilla.
 
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fatsachs

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I REALLY like the idea of using the charred chips from the inside of the barrel as well. They smell VERY strong of the bourbon and I'd like to impart that bourbon essence more than anything, I think I'll use them. Can I get some votes on amount of weight to use in the charred slivers pictured for this one gallon experiment? 1/2 oz?... 1/4 oz?
 

Stevo2569

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I've done 2 Bourben barrel ales. I used 6 oz for 6 weeks of American white oak charred and soaked in Bourben for 3 wks prior. The flavor is awesome. I recently visited a local distillery and will be getting charred chunks from their Bourben barrels next time. I think I'll stay with the same amounts.
 
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fatsachs

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I just thought of something, does anybody know a sanitary way I'll be able to rack from one of the 1 gallon growlers?:confused: My Fermtech Autosyphon doesn't fit into growlers and I'm not aware of another sanitary possibility at this point.
 

BeerWard

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fill the siphon tube with sanitizer, by submerging in a bucket. Clamp the tubing tightly. place one end and growler. Lower the other end to a dump bucket. Release the clamp. The first runnings will be sanitizer, which get dumped. Then clamp and switch to the bottling bucket or what ever vessel you would siphon into. You will only lose about an ounce of beer.

I started this way, and now I use a 60ml syringe, to get the siphon going. If you have access to it, it works great.
 

BeerWard

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yes, I have used that one with a catheter tip. The luer lock ones (screw type) work as well. It fits in standard racking tubing. Place the sanitized racking cane in the beer container. Use the syringe to start the siphon, and disconnect. I usually clamp the tubing before disconnect so I can get the tube in the right position.
 
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fatsachs

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Hey Beerward, shall I rack and dose this experimental 1/2 gallon straight from out of the primary fermenter or wait and rack the 1/2 gallon from out of the secondary when I'm ready to bottle the bulk of the batch that's not getting the bourbon barrel chips? I'm thinking start it from out of the secondary but thought I'd run it by someone else.
 

BeerWard

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I think either would work. I agree that doing it when moving to secondary or to bottling is most efficient. You just have to have the container ready. Have you considered not really doing a secondary? There is a great debate on the forum about the need for secondary. I really don't use them, unless I am racking on fruit, aging on oak or doing something special.

Maybe let the beer go 3-4 weeks primary and then rack to bottling bucket and the secondary "oaking" vessel. I'm not trying to second guess your technique, but just offering a suggestion. Let me know what you decide.
 
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fatsachs

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I know many people go without a secondary with no reported issues, personally I'd prefer to get it off the yeast cake and the trub that got syphoned into primary. I'll go to a secondary for a few weeks and then when it's time to bottle just draw off the 1/2 gallon and dose it. This way I'll also have a full secondary carboy with zero head space to annoy me. I know it's pretty unmerited but I'm just that guy with words like "oxidation" and "autolysis" floating around in his head. lol
 

BeerWard

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Sounds good. So are you doing 1 gallon or 1/2 gallon and how much oak are you putting in? How long do you expect to leave it?
 

Backslider

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I don't have anything to add other than I'm really interested how this turns out. fatsachs, please keep us updated!

I'm a noob so everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt.. But you should go for strong flavor if you're using a small batch. If it's too strong you could always blend it back in with the regular.
 
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fatsachs

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I decided on doing a half gallon instead. I've got a total of a 1/2 oz of small cubes mixed with some of the charred flakes soaking in bourbon right now. It'll soak for two weeks total before going in to the beer. I'm gonna shoot for two weeks on the oak before bottling it. This is really just a lot of guesswork and estimation from what I've read others doing. So... if it turns out well in the end I'll do an entire batch of this oak aged bourbon porter in the very near future. Or if not I'll tweak the formula and try another experiment batch. I'm gonna get this recipe pegged one way or another though.
 

Stevo2569

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fatsachs said:
I decided on doing a half gallon instead. I've got a total of a 1/2 oz of small cubes mixed with some of the charred flakes soaking in bourbon right now. It'll soak for two weeks total before going in to the beer. I'm gonna shoot for two weeks on the oak before bottling it. This is really just a lot of guesswork and estimation from what I've read others doing. So... if it turns out well in the end I'll do an entire batch of this oak aged bourbon porter in the very near future. Or if not I'll tweak the formula and try another experiment batch. I'm gonna get this recipe pegged one way or another though.
1/2 oz for two weeks may not be enough. That would be 5 oz for 5 G. It took 6 oz for 6 wks for the oak to start coming in on my 5G. That's not as much, with a third of the time. Taste it and see before bottling. The rule is : Less for longer or More for shorter.
 

BeerWard

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fatsachs, how is the experiment going? I just bottled 5 gallons of porter that had been on 2 oz of bourbon soaked oak cubes for 6 weeks. Prelim tasting was good, but the oak was the predominate aftertaste. I expect the carbonation and time will help balance the flavors. I have heard the oak mellow with age, so will have to try a few along the way.
 
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fatsachs

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I've bottled mine, decided to after about two weeks on the oak. Tasting it just before bottling it had a predominately oak backbone and what I can only explain as a buttery and hint of vanilla aroma to it.?? I have no idea what to expect now lol. I'll crack one in a couple more weeks and post an update, I'm so interested in how this beer this will turn out.
 

BeerWard

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I was inspired by your experiment and had an extra 1/2 gallon of my porter after kegging, so I racked on an ounce of French Oak chips. Will let sit for a week or so and bottle.
 

Taypo

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We did a robust porter - three weeks on 1oz of French Oak soaked in Bourbon for a 5 gallon batch. The oak was definitely there at bottling, but not overpowering. It stood out more than some of the commercial oaked beers I've had though, hoping some conditioning damps it down a little.
 

unionrdr

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Ok,here's what I did. I brewed 6G of a dark ale recipe. I used 4oz of French medium toast oak chips in 5 jiggers of Beam's Black (7.5oz). I put them in an airtight plastic container in the fridge for the whole time the ale was fermenting. The chips soaked up 2/3's of the bourbon. But you also have to remember that the bourbon soaks out some of the wood flavors/aromas.
So,when the ale was done fermenting,I poured the bourbon,chips & all through a hop sack into secondary,tied it off,& dropped it in. Racked the ale onto it & sealed it up with an airlock.
It took only 8 days for the oaked bourbon to get plenty strong. I primed & bottled it,letting it sit 9 weeks & 6 days to carb & condition. Then it took 2 weeks fridge time to get good carbonation & head.
 

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