How long should I soak Oak Chips on Bourbon?

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Brian Parfitt

Active Member
Apr 17, 2020
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I just brewed up a batch of the Dragon's Breath stout.. Described here:

Lug Wrench Brew: Dragon's Breath, a Dragon's Milk Clone

And also brewed on YouTube by Beer-and-BBQ Larry:

And Short Circuited Brewers:

I started soaking my woodchips (heavy toast american oak) on Bourbon the week of Christmas.. I had intended to brew the beer up sooner, but just got around to it last week. My question is, can the chips be on Bourbon TOO long? Original suggestion was to soak them only for a two weeks. It will have been much longer than that when fermentation is finally done. My plan was to toss the bourbon and chips into the secondary once fermentation was complete.

Any concerns that I will be pulling out too many tannins or astringency from the chips with the lengthy soak? This is my first time working a bourbon stout and using woodchips.

Thanks in advance for the help!
2 weeks, a month... either way they're saturated but still ok. As long as the container you were soaking them in was sealed, there should be no difference in 2 weeks vs a month. I soak mine for a week.
I'm preparing to condition a 16% RIS, once it's finished in secondary (in a few more weeks).
I've come across info, suggesting that the quantity of oak, is the most importantant factor when aging high ABV beers. And that any spirit present, mostly just gives an ABV kick, rather than help aging.

So I'm going for 0.5kg of charred oak, Scottish whisky barrel staves (probably originally a Bourbon barrel), cut into thin strips, for aging 20L of stout for 12-18 months. About 1/4 of the batch will be bottle aged (using one strip per 330ml bottle).

I've got the ingredients for 'wax' sealing the bottles (to exclude oxygen, long term), low temperature glue sticks + wax crayons - and need to test for a good mix before botteling day.

Whisky barrels of 200L capacity, might weigh around 50kg. For the same ratio, that would mean using 5kg oak per 20L, but with 4 sides (rather than just the inner face) exposed to brew, it's 1.25kg per 20L.

But, I'm now soaking them in (budget single malt whisky) to make sure they're sterile (having washed them after cutting to remove sawdust and charcoal dust).

They'll have been soaking for 6-8 weeks. But that's nothing, compared to the years the barrels contained whisky.

I put fresh oak chips, in most red wines I ferment, where I'm after the tannins (which become evident after 3-4 weeks).
If you're concerned about avoiding tannins, maybe soak for a few weeks, then discard the spirit.

I'm wondering if activated carbon, as used by spirit brewers, could give better/faster beer aging than oak?
HI. Furthering this conversation.

Is there a spiral to spirit ratio; ie. one spiral to 16 oz bourbon, etc.?
I have done a few batches and have put both rum (kracken black & Appleton Amber) and bourbon(makers mark) into a sealed jam jar with enough liquid to cover most of the spiral. I really haven't been concerned with the volume but ensuring that the liquid soaks the spirals evenly. Usually will rotate the jar to its side and turn it slightly. All have had various duration in the jar.