Not enough oak?

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Not enough oak?

Postby 3rdto1st on Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:55 am

So I made my barleywine back in Nov. and on the same day put 2oz oak cubes in bourbon with 4 vanilla beans. I let the BW sit and ferment and finish out and let the oak cubes soak in the bourbon for a month. Then I took the oak cubes out and put em in the brew and just let that sit.

Well, I had to move and figured 3 months of bourbon soaked oak cubes was enough, so I transferred to a corny. During transfer, I decided to give it a taste. There is very little oak or vanilla flavor, but the subtle bourbon I was going for is there. I'm just wondering, did I wait too long soaking those cubes and all the toast character is in the bourbon?

I have the BW in a corny with no pressure, so I can still mess with it, I just feel it needs more oak and vanilla character, but it's also still pretty hot, so I don't know if that might be masking the other flavors. Suggestions?
Brewing soon: KtG
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Secondary: Sucaba clone (on oak soaked in EC12)
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby Greywolf on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:29 am

The longer you age something on oak, the more oak character you get. It will not "cruve" back around and lose character (unless we are talking 10 years) If you want more oak... through some cubes into your cornie.
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby brahn on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:43 am

You probably stripped some of the oakiness by soaking it in the bourbon. I probably would have suggested adding the bourbon with the oak cubes. The only time I've done any oak aging I boiled the cubes in a small amount of water and then added both the cubes and the water. This was recommended by Jamil Z and was very effective.

As far as what to do now, I agree with Greywolf that adding more oak would be fine and should help.
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby lexuschris on Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Never tried to oak my homebrew yet. Something to put on my radar for the future!

Is there a difference between cubes, spirals & chips?

I gather the cubes have less surface area, and probably take a bit longer to get the oakiness? And I imagine spirals would be the fastest, as they have tons of surface area ... Any truth to that?

I like the idea of adding in the bourbon after the soak ... will have to try that too!

Good luck!
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby Greywolf on Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:38 pm

cubes do have the least surface area and will take the longest to impart their essence. Chips actually have more surface area then spirals, chips will impart their essence the "fastest".

In general, the idea is that you get a more complex extraction with longer contact time... eg, cubes will give you a more complex character.

Oaking is an art unto itself. Use it like you would just about any other adjuct to the beer. A stronger beer will be able to stand up to stronger oaking.
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby ArrogantDan on Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:45 pm

+1 with Greywolf. I've oaked a couple different beers and have always used medium roast French oak chips. Two ounces for two weeks seems to work for me but I recommend thiefing a sample weekly until desired taste is achieved. And from personal experience, be careful adding bourbon to the beer....a little goes a long way.
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby jward on Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:31 pm

Pete/Oskaar always suggested cubes to me for mead. The slower, more linear absorption of the cubes can help with repeat ability (re-oakability?) too. That is, once you figure out how much time is required for that perfect taste it should be easier and less work to hit again.
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby ocluke on Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:22 pm

I did some research on this when I was looking for wood for some sour beer projects, and the general consensus from a few award winning experts that I reached out to are below. Mostly, these are the thoughts of David Batcheller expressed to me over email. David wrote an article in Zymurgy last year on aging beer on wood.

  • Chips: fast extraction, and a fairly one-dimensional characteristic. You get lots of surface wood character and they can be inconsistently toasted (Note, none of these brewers use chips any longer).
  • Cubes: Slower extraction, and a more complex character due to a differential in toast level as the beer penetrates the wood over time, gaining soft wood compounds (kind of like coconut). Great for bigger beers.
  • Infusion spiral: Weak and difficult to handle. They often break in steaming.
  • Wood dust: lack of depth and complexity, and handling issues (would never recommend using).
  • Honeycomb: Very consistent toast level (convection toasted). Great for use in smaller beers where you want control and an expeditious extraction. A great vehicle to alternative wood options (red oak, maple, white ash, etc.)

Two tips that were stressed by David:
    1. The only ways recommended for sanitizing wood are to steam it or to soak it in another alcohol for an extended period of time. He recommends only doing the latter if your intention is to adopt part of the character of that alcohol in the finished product.
    2. "DO NOT pull your beer off the wood after less than six or eight weeks of again in secondary. This is the most common mistake with home brewed wood-aged beers. After a few weeks they taste VERY woody and people freak out and pull it off the wood before it gets "worse." In fact, you're getting a lot of earth tones from the surface area of the wood and its char and as the beverage gets deeper into the wood it is going to start pulling out the components that bring the depth and mouthfeel that people love in a good wood-aged beer. If you use the right amount of wood, and leave it on the wood long enough, I am supremely confident that you won't find the character harsh. Mostly the harsh tasting wood-aged beers you handle are the ones that people pulled off wood early (counter-intuitive perhaps, but there it is)"
Luke

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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby lexuschris on Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:18 pm

Wow! Great post Luke!
:thumbup:
Thanks!
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Re: Not enough oak?

Postby 3rdto1st on Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:54 pm

Awesome Luke, thanks a ton. I will take new cubes and soak em in the bourbon and then put them in and forget about this brew for a while.
Brewing soon: KtG
Primary :
Secondary: Sucaba clone (on oak soaked in EC12)
Kegs: Kate the just OK, English SMASH

Gals brewed '11: 50
Gals brewed '12: 50
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