Tips on Wood Aging.

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eschatz

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This is an outline that I created after listening to the Jamil Show podcast, Brewstrong, and reading the Classic Styles book. I am not an expert in the area of wood aging. This was done in preparation of oaking some beers of mine and I thought that others could use the information that I collected. Feel free to comment and make suggestions about the information here. There is a section for links and tried-and-true recipes at the bottom of the post. Please contribute to this compilation. :mug:

Information provided by:
---Jamil Zainasheff
---John Palmer
---Jason Petros

Wood Aging = having your beer in contact with toasted oak (barrel, chips, cubes, staves, etc.)

Generally only use oak.

3 types of oak for fermentation:
---American
------Light can give coconut/fresh oak flavors
------Med can give vanilla
---French
------Smoother than American varieties
---Hungarian
------Heavy can give spicy clovey flavors

All types are toasted to light, medium, medium plus, or heavy toast.


Toasting of the oak creates melanoidins:
---Heat breaks down carbohydrates into sugars in the wood
---Heavier toasts create maliards and charring, also confectionary compounds (custard/caramel/butterscotch flavors)

Does wood character remain stable or deteriorate over time?
---It does lessen to some extent, it is slow though

Tannins (good body and mouthfeel) can come from wood

Oak chips last about 2 weeks before tannins start to leach into the beer (body/complexity tannins) too long and it can become astringent (bad tannins (sour puckering)- can add to dryness of finish)

“Doing it right” requires slow dosing of your beer over the course of months

Higher alcohol beers possibly draw out more compounds form the wood.


Preparing your wood for the beer:
---Usually just throw the wood in (no sanitary steps)
---Some put wood in water in microwave (steam)
---Some boil water, throw chips in, shake a little, let cool, throw juice and wood in
fermenter. (Jamil sometimes pressure cooks his wood)
------Usually only sanitize for long aging beers (never any chem. (starsan, idophore)
--- Brett (and other sour critters) can live in wood (takes a long time to become problematic)
------You can pasteurize the wood at 170 F for 5 min.


Different flavor in cubes vs. chips
---Chips are toasted on both sides (generally one overall flavor)
---Cubes are taken form already toasted barrels so they’re only toasted on one side (creates multiple flavor profiles)
---Long aging beers = cubes

Chips in fermenter:---This can possibly over-oak a beer.
---Yeast will scrub off a lot of the aromatics leaving behind a lot of layering and structuring tannins.

How much oak to use for a 5 gal batch?:
Chips: (impart flavor much faster) 1/2 oz for 5 gal (one dimensional flavor) in fermenter (helps the flavors “bind up”)
---If for a long time on these it will extract unpleasant flavors (possibly only
leave for one week)
---Example:
------APA or IPA on chips for 1 week because hops will be best when
fresh.
Cubes: (impart flavor much slower) for aging after primary (in keg) use about 1-2 oz for 5 gal 5
months-1 year
---No point to using cubes if only aging for a month or so.
------The more the beer sits on the cube it penetrates deeper causing a variety of flavors
------The more oak you apply the shorter amount to time it takes to show itself
------The flavor is different depending on amount placed and time left
------The flavors that come out first from the oak only become more defined with age
---It takes 3-4 weeks to notice flavors are melding (especially with cubes)
------Vanilla and caramel are first, then spices and cloves later on
------Toasted coconut for lighter toast oak
---Oak cubes will dissolve to “little nubs” after 1 ½ -2 years of keeping them in a keg (Jamil did this with an English Barleywine, which became an award winning beer)
---Too little oak for too long creates bad tannins
---Too much oak does not create complexity of flavors before it becomes overwhelming (varies between different styles of beer)


Barrel flavors can be achieved with chips in a carboy.

Barrels can contribute to micro-oxidation (plum/sherry notes)

Barrel aging:---Lose a couple pints a week/month (angel’s share)
---The more surface area in contact with the beer the faster it will gain it's flavors
------Small barrel vs. large barrel
---Do not want a big o2 area (fill to the top)
---Keep a spare keg (5 gal) handy to “top off” beer from angel’s share every
week/month

Barrel restoration:
---Don’t acquire a barrel where everything is loose
------Fill up with water to make everything swell
------Cooperage will fix it (expensive)

How do I sanitize barrel?
---Never use fire near a whisky barrel!
---Never use boiling water in barrel unless it’s in bad shape
---Fill up barrel with hot water
---Chemical methods
------Acids and sulfite compounds
------Ozone machine
------Hydrogen peroxide
---Sniff the bung- if it’s rancid or vinegary then leave it alone
------At least 140-160 F for at least 30 min to pasteurize
---Keep liquid in a barrel, must stay moist, and cannot dry out


Oak infusion spirals (something between a chip and a cube)
---Barrel replica kits for wineries to keep neutral barrels going.
---Brewstrong does not recommend because they have no experience (go with cubes)


How to preserve chips for future batches?
---Freeze them. Possibly will crack chips from moisture (will not change character)
---Not put in vodka, will extract flavors, different compounds have different solubility. Can change character of oak.

Originally IPA’s shipped to India should have massive oak flavor?---No, barrels were lined with “pitch” (brewer’s pitch) to make water tight and keep flavors out
---Brewers did this to keep them from getting oak flavors
---Oak flavors are faults in a traditional IPA



Using bugs in beers from infused cubes:---The flavor of the bugs will change when extracted from cubes
---Lay cubes out and let them dry, turn over a few times, don’t store wet
---Still can store in freezer


LINKS REGARDING WOOD AGING:
Oak Barrels LTD
Oak Barrel Experiment
Thousand Oaks Barrel Supplies
Vadai World Trade Enterprise, Barrels.
 

Jipper

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Wow - nice job! Glad I could help out. If you have any questions and Jamil is too busy being cool to respond, lemme know!
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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Got me another pound of american med cubes and a pound of french med chips. I'm an oaky bastard!!!! :D
 

Dog House Brew

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I used 3oz of med toast cubes in an imperial porter. I soaked them in Makers Mark until they soaked up 3/4 of a liter. This took about a month while in primary. I racked it onto the chips and let it sit for 8 weeks. I had read that it would over power the beer and it is the best I've made to date. I oak a lot of brews and like the USA oak the best. Getting ready to brew a Yeti coffe stout that I'm going to oak in a few weeks. Love the flavor of Oak!
 

Livendadream

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Anyone know if you can reuse the chips/cubes for future batches? Or should I just use them one time and then chuck them? I would think they might lose their flavor pretty quick.
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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They're so cheap I don't know why you'd even bother. However if you do, I'd assume that they would be vessels for the previous yeast/brett/bacteria whatever. You might want to use some caution and maybe boil them. I don't know how much flavor you'd get out of those.
 

trefoyl

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I don't know if barrel aging is for me, but I was on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire this past weekend and saw a tent for Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. Link:Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. - 1000 Oaks Barrel Co.
They will be there all summer and have other locations as well and also sell over the internet. Prices seem quite reasonable and they have many sizes, 1 liter to 5 gallons.

I also found a website describing one homebrewer's experiments:Oak Barrel Experiment
 

Ferrousity

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This is a very useful and timely thread.

Not too long ago folks from my local club brewed a Belgian dark strong that was then aged in the club bourbon barrels. Yep....its tasty

I am about to attempt to approximate this with my own batch and some oak chips. I just bought some today (LD Carlson brand), however, which do not indicate a specific origin, or that they are toasted at all.

so, is there an un-toasted variety? should I toast them myself?

I'm thinking more toasty is maybe better for such a big dark beer.

thoughts?
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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I have know idea what LD carlson is doing with that. You need to know what intensity of toast and what country of origin you are using. I don't believe that Carlson would give you untoasted oak. Then again, these are the same people that have no level of intensity or origin. Morebeer.com should have better supplies. Check there. Oak is cheap and you want the best for a big beer. You don't want to mess it up.

As far as high toast goes. This is from the OP ,"Heavier toasts create maliards and charring, also confectionary compounds (custard/caramel/butterscotch flavors)".

:mug:
 

trefoyl

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Link: http://www.oakbarrelsltd.com/
The company advertising at the top of this thread offers lower prices than Thousand Oaks, but does not have locations at various events so shipping has to be added to the cost.
Three things that strike me as interesting about barrel aging:
1. Aging time is greatly reduced in a small barrel due to increased surface area, and small barrels would also be more convenient for a homebrewer and allow for blending from multiple barrels if desired. Not many people would have room for multiple large barrels.
2. Smaller barrels would lose flavor more quickly and become neutral, not necessarily a bad thing if making brett beers like lambics.
3. Barrel aging offers oxidation characteristics and more complex flavor opportunities than chips alone.
It's tempting ... perhaps in the future I will pick up a couple of small barrels, maybe around 1 liter, to experiment with.
 

dwarven_stout

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Brett (and other sour critters) can live in wood (takes a long time to become problematic)

I beg to differ, good sir. Sour bugs in my wood are "problematic" as soon as they are noticed. :D

Thanks for the info! I'm going to be oaking soon.
 

McKBrew

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Thanks for the write-up. I'm going to oak half of my IIPA/Barleywine I made.
 

Brewin_CRAZY

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Thank you sooo much. I want to oak my beers and just didnt know anything about it. This helped me out a LOT!!!
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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No problem. It's pretty easy to oak really. Just keep tasting along the way so you don't over oak it and you'll be fine! :mug:
 

AnOldUR

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Some questions about how much the oak will fade or mellow with conditioning after it's bottled or kegged and what to expect from different types of oak. I have three beers with oak in process.

The first is a 1.064 OG Robust Porter using a two ounce French Oak spiral. It's been in the secondary with the oak since March 13th. The plan is to wait until winter to keg it. The second is a 1.075 OG IPA using a two ounce American Oak sprial. This one was only aged for one month with the oak and was bottled a couple of weeks ago.

The IPA with the American Oak has a VERY strong vanilla flavor. Will this soften up with time?

I really don't want to mess with the Porter, but am curious how much different the flavor will be with the French Oak over the longer length of time?

The third is an Imperial Black Ale using the French Oak. I'll be kegging that tomorrow, so I'll get some indication from the hydro sample, but it will only have been oaked and dry hopped for two weeks (after a three week primary), so I'm expecting a lot less wood character from it.
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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Some questions about how much the oak will fade or mellow with conditioning after it's bottled or kegged and what to expect from different types of oak. I have three beers with oak in process.

The first is a 1.064 OG Robust Porter using a two ounce French Oak spiral. It's been in the secondary with the oak since March 13th. The plan is to wait until winter to keg it. The second is a 1.075 OG IPA using a two ounce American Oak sprial. This one was only aged for one month with the oak and was bottled a couple of weeks ago.

The IPA with the American Oak has a VERY strong vanilla flavor. Will this soften up with time?

I really don't want to mess with the Porter, but am curious how much different the flavor will be with the French Oak over the longer length of time?

The third is an Imperial Black Ale using the French Oak. I'll be kegging that tomorrow, so I'll get some indication from the hydro sample, but it will only have been oaked and dry hopped for two weeks (after a three week primary), so I'm expecting a lot less wood character from it.

All aspects of oaking will fade with age. The questions that you have about the strength of oaking all relates to the type of oak (chips, cubes, spirals). I have no experience with spirals. Chips will show themselves within 2 weeks and be very prominent within 3-4 weeks in most beers. It all depends on the beer obviously. This short time is awesome for something like your IPA that you want as fresh as possible. However, the flavor will be a little harsher than cubes and can quickly become over-oaked (tannins).
Cubes will take at least a month or two to show themselves. I'm oaking a barleywine on 2 oz of med french cubes right now. It'll be on for at least a year. Most beers only need a couple of months on cubes. The only way to know when your beer is right is to pull a sample and taste.
Honestly, thats usually the answer with oaking. Chips go fast, cubes are for the long hall, keep tasting till you hit the sweet spot. Everyone has tasted an over-oaked beer. They have no balence and it destroys the beer. Keep tasting.

:mug:
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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thanks for the info kappa joe. can you tell us something about how you use those barrels? I'll add your link to the OP.

:mug:
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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NOTE: I'm going to add links in the OP to great recipes that have been oaked successfully. If you know of any please contribute a link. (only tried-and-true recipes please)
 

Veng

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Eschatz thanks for the topic!
I got two pieces of oak from a buddy and set off
to make lots of small ones for the oven rack.
Holy- these smoke! Any thoughts on an appropriate toast time?
The chart on Ehow suggested Mid 400 range for more vanilla range.
"easy" chants that demon on my shoulder and an hour into this process,
SHMBO is giving me not so pleasant looks and I have fans and ionizers everywhere. WTH, I had to try it at least once. Maybe twice if the fire dept doesn't visit this time.
FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!:rockin:
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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Veng! Wow, I would have never thought about toasting my own. Although I'm sure that it could be done. I would be interested to know how your toasting works out for you. Some pics would be super sweet. Have you chipped it up before toasting the whole piece or what? This would have a huge effect on the final product I believe.
 

Veng

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Eschatz,
LOL as I type, the house still smells oaky even with an ionizer running since the experiment.
My buddy gave me two split sections of dried American Oak, maybe 18 inches long.
I Used an Axe and a sledge hammer to make remotely thumb sized staves as the Ehow article suggested. One site suggested that chips would release too many tannins. Anyway, these filled a 5 gallon bucket completely standing on end.
I kept them at 425' F for 1.5 hours, which was when the smoke in my home was really heavy. This seemed not terrible for the sections I cut as one was already starting to burn.
Next time, I'll maybe set up an outside oven.
I really thought hard about using the kamado BBQ
or maybe modding a keggle but I couldn't regulate the temp well enough.
I tried to post a before pic on here, hopefully it worked.
The after image isn't too impressive, I will try and post that as well.
Any thoughts on using these things?

My Dad lives in Carmel, Ind is that close to Terre Haute?
 
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eschatz

eschatz

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Eschatz,
LOL as I type, the house still smells oaky even with an ionizer running since the experiment.
My buddy gave me two split sections of dried American Oak, maybe 18 inches long.
I Used an Axe and a sledge hammer to make remotely thumb sized staves as the Ehow article suggested. One site suggested that chips would release too many tannins. Anyway, these filled a 5 gallon bucket completely standing on end.
I kept them at 425' F for 1.5 hours, which was when the smoke in my home was really heavy. This seemed not terrible for the sections I cut as one was already starting to burn.
Next time, I'll maybe set up an outside oven.
I really thought hard about using the kamado BBQ
or maybe modding a keggle but I couldn't regulate the temp well enough.
I tried to post a before pic on here, hopefully it worked.
The after image isn't too impressive, I will try and post that as well.
Any thoughts on using these things?

My Dad lives in Carmel, Ind is that close to Terre Haute?

As I said previously I have no experience with toasting my own oak. I've toasted grain but that's another story (and a tasty one at that ;) ). I just cant believe that you did this in your house! I bet the smoke was killer. You're lucky SWMBO didn't castrate you. :D

What I would do is work with a small amount, maybe 2 oz and put them in a pretty harmless beer like a pale ale. Something that if you screwed it up you wouldn't be out a pile of cash. If you could I would do a smaller batch, 1 oz of oak to 2.5 gal or something like that. The mantra with oaking is KEEP TASTING. It's really the only way to know how your beer is coming along. I would love to know how your beer turns out so keep us informed.

:mug:
 

Veng

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OK, before and after pics posted. Amazing how much "dried" oak shrank in the oven
and a subsequent two day trip through the Kamado. This looks pretty dark to me

Prost
 

Veng

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lol that came across wrong, she's actually got a sense of humor about my experiments, luckily.
I am hoping to use this in secondary in a Barley wine
~Veng
 

yellowthere

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Great, great post. I have a question that was briefly eluded to on the BS episode. What effect does temp have on aging with cubes? Obviously you will get more if you are aging at 70F, but is there any point to oak aging at 35F?

I would like to "lager" my 11.86ABV ale for a few months, why not oak age at the same time? It's in a glass carboy in secondary now. I added 2 OZ of french medium toast cubes.

Thanks again.
 

magnj

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Soaking 1oz of light American Oak chips in 4 oz of Bourbon to age a half gallon of barleywine in, gonna drain the bourbon off and let it sit a week or so...
 

Veng

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Great, great post. I have a question that was briefly eluded to on the BS episode. What effect does temp have on aging with cubes? Obviously you will get more if you are aging at 70F, but is there any point to oak aging at 35F?

I would like to "lager" my 11.86ABV ale for a few months, why not oak age at the same time? It's in a glass carboy in secondary now. I added 2 OZ of french medium toast cubes.

Thanks again.

Thanks! I am unsure what BS and F are.
Here is the link I found with a graphic representation of flavors by temperature;
http://www.ehow.com/how_4519773_toast-oak-wood.html
Looks like oak goes through a whole range of flavors before becoming acrid.
If I really like these, I really might use the Kamado BBq for the next batch and save the domestic discord. http://www.kamado.com/
The temps are far from accurate but it's worth a shot.
 

yellowthere

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Thanks! I am unsure what BS and F are.
Here is the link I found with a graphic representation of flavors by temperature;
http://www.ehow.com/how_4519773_toast-oak-wood.html
Looks like oak goes through a whole range of flavors before becoming acrid.
If I really like these, I really might use the Kamado BBq for the next batch and save the domestic discord. http://www.kamado.com/
The temps are far from accurate but it's worth a shot.

Hey man, I'm a little confused by your reply. I'm talking about good ole, regular oak cubes in beer. That link looked like it was some oak infused liquor thing. I'm really asking about temperature putting oak cubes in a beer in secondary. Should I should even bother "oaking" a beer at 35 degrees Fahrenheit (F=Fahrenheit)? BS= brew strong, that's the show on the brewing network that basically inspired the whole thread (I could be wrong). Thanks for any advice. Hopefully I can follow it. https://cdn.homebrewtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

I'm not talking about toasting oak here.
 

magnj

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I'm just following up here. Below are a few pictures of a barleywine I am aging. 1oz oak chips soaked in bourbon, then drained. Beer had been on oak for about 2 weeks, tastes really nice.
3987306997_9d92d7990d.jpg
3987308009_a1995cd1d9.jpg
 

Mr. Nice Guy

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I just bottled my oaked arrogant bastard "clone" and it is awesome! I aged it on 1.5 oz of house toast french oak for 2 months. The oak comes through but is not overpowering. I taste no "wood" popsicle stick flavor like I feared, just nice toasted coconut and vanilla notes. My wife really liked it and she is not a big fan of american oaked beers but this was much different.

I'm making all kinds of stuff with french oak now!

I just put 1/2 gal of brown ale in a growler with a tiny bit of light toast american oak, we'll see how it turns out. My mocha porter I oaked this way is great but the oak is very in your face, this time I used even less.
 
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