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Will soaking oak cubes in bourbon in advance reduce necessary contact time with beer?

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tyrub42

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Hi everyone,

I make an Xmas stout every year, and normally use oak chips for a week in primary. This year I'm fresh out but have plenty of cubes; however, I'd rather not do a longer primary or secondary. Would soaking the cubes in bourbon for 2-3 months, and then chucking both the bourbon and the cubes into the beer result in adequate oak character with only 10 days of contact?

Also, should I up the weight of cubes over chips? I would have used about 35g of chips but could easily use 50 or 60g of cubes. What do you think?

Plan b is pretty simple: find chips and buy them 😅, but if I can use the cubes then that seems like a better choice.

Thanks!
 

Dgallo

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You don’t need to soak them for that long but there is no reason you can’t. What you’re doing is technically making a tincture. If you do go that route, there is no need to add the oat cubes back into the beer. The flavor will have been extracted into the bourbon, so all you’ll have to do is add the bourbon to the beer at the time of bottling or kegging.
 
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tyrub42

tyrub42

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You don’t need to soak them for that long but there is no reason you can’t. What you’re doing is technically making a tincture. If you do go that route, there is no need to add the oat cubes back into the beer. The flavor will have been extracted into the bourbon, so all you’ll have to do is add the bourbon to the beer at the time of bottling or kegging.
Didn't really think about it that way but that makes sense. Thanks! Guessing it'd be fine to just use however much bourbon I need to cover the cubes and then leave em alone. You think 2oz/2 months is too long (batch is 7gal, and about 8 percent abv)?
 

Dgallo

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Didn't really think about it that way but that makes sense. Thanks! Guessing it'd be fine to just use however much bourbon I need to cover the cubes and then leave em alone. You think 2oz/2 months is too long (batch is 7gal, and about 8 percent abv)?
That would be fine for the oak component but If you want a bourbon character in the beer, you’ll need to add more bourbon. I’ll let someone with more experience adding spirits for flavors to assist you here.
 
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tyrub42

tyrub42

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That would be fine for the oak component but If you want a bourbon character in the beer, you’ll need to add more bourbon. I’ll let someone with more experience adding spirits for flavors to assist you here.
No worries I'm really after the oak. Cheers 🍻
 

bananawallas

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Sorry, noob question here, but I'm doing something similar to this and was wondering if a tincture of bourbon/oak spirals would kill off any yeast in the homebrew before bottling? Would I have enough left over in suspension to carbonate my bottles?
 
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tyrub42

tyrub42

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Sorry, noob question here, but I'm doing something similar to this and was wondering if a tincture of bourbon/oak spirals would kill off any yeast in the homebrew before bottling? Would I have enough left over in suspension to carbonate my bottles?
Nope, won't kill the yeast. The alcohol will be diluted after adding to the beer and the yeast will be fine. However if you're worried about yeast health for bottle conditioning (time, abv, yeast strain, etc), you can always add some t58 at bottling time. 1g is more than enough for 5 gal, and beers will carb up quickly and dependably. I do it for high abv beers and certain strains that don't bottle carb very well (London iii, etc). Cheers 🍻
 

Dgallo

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Sorry, noob question here, but I'm doing something similar to this and was wondering if a tincture of bourbon/oak spirals would kill off any yeast in the homebrew before bottling? Would I have enough left over in suspension to carbonate my bottles?
Here’s your math on how it will effect the abv.
((# of Cups of spirit X abv % of spirit) + (# of cups of beer X beer abv%)) / by total cups for batch size = new abv
(You can actually do this formula with any unit of volume you just need to keep it consistent)

here is how it would work using 4 oz (1/2 cup) of 40% abv vodka (80 proof) in a 5 gallon batch (80 total cups) of 6% beer

[(0.5 X 40) + (79.5 x 6) ] / 80 = 6.21%

so your tincture would raise the base beer’s abv by only 0.21% ... which is zero of a concern to brewers yeast
 
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OldDogBrewing

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Sorry, noob question here, but I'm doing something similar to this and was wondering if a tincture of bourbon/oak spirals would kill off any yeast in the homebrew before bottling? Would I have enough left over in suspension to carbonate my bottles?
Here in Spain there is a wine called sherry, wine with distilled white spirit from wine added to kill the yeast at different stages, lower examples start at 15% which I think it's the legal minimum

I don't know exactly their strains and all but you need to go pretty high to kill the yeast, to 15% or more and that's a lot of tincture, so your are safe regarding that, it's different to ageing in barrels as barrels can absorb up to a 10% of the spirit they contained, there you can experience a bump in maybe 1 or 2 %

I would be more concerned regarding the ageing time, if you're planning to go 6 months or longer, I would consider re-yeasting to be safe, if you are going for a shorter time, you're good to go
 

CanAm

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What I have done is add oak chunks / chips and sample until it’s where I want. Then add the bourbon to taste

From what I understand commercial brewers can’t add liquor to beer, so that’s why they put beer in bourbon barrels instead of adding the two separately.

Another process advantage of home brewing.
 
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