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How long until oak chips start to impart flavor?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Providence, May 17, 2012.

  1. I brewed a Rye IPA and I am now aging it on 1 cup of oak chips that were soaked for one day in bourbon. I drained the bourbon before I added the oak chips. How long until those flavors start to work there way into the brew? I would imagine it's not very long. Obviously I can just test it every day until it gets to the point that I like, but I would like to get a general idea of just how long this takes.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Savant (420) California Mar 22, 2011

    I've used bourbon barrel chips (Buffalo Trace) and JD barrel chips that were soaked in their respective liquors to sanitize; within 24 hours of adding to beer, both batches of beer picked up really strong bourbon and whisky flavors and aromas (strong enough to keg, force carb and serve). Not sure of the long term stability of these specific batches since both beers were consumed within 2 days of force carbing.

    For some other batches I aged on the same types chips for a week or so, the flavor was potent enough that it is still very present in the beers at 1+ yrs of age.
     
  3. Did you add any of the bourbon? Are they toasted oak chips? It is a good idea to add it to taste, because it soaks up some of the flavors, and the bourbon extracted from the chips is pretty miniscule. I am not sure how much a cup is, but I added about 1 oz of light-medium toasted oak chips to my porter and after 2 weeks it had decent oak/bourbon flavors. I would still check it every few days with a thief, but a ballpark of 1-2 weeks is reasonable, remember it is easy to overdo it with chips.
     
  4. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Savant (390) Virginia Jun 21, 2009

    I added 2 oz med toast french oak that was soaked in Woodford Reserve for nearly a month into my imperial maple brown. After 5 days, I tasted it because I am impatient. To my surprise, it was a little over-oaked. This was fine because I am aging this for an extended amount of time.

    Moral of the story is to let taste be the judge, not a set amount of time.
     
  5. I don't want to get much oak or bourbon, just a faint background thing. I am going to start tasting it every 24 hours.
     
  6. tngolfer

    tngolfer Aficionado (225) Tennessee Feb 16, 2012

    How are the oak chips different than what whiskey distillers do in that the whiskey has to go through seasons for the wood to absorb and release the liquid a few times. Since we are trying to keep our fermentation near a constant temp we wouldn't get the absorb/release would we, especially since we are only fermenting for a couple of weeks instead of years?
     
  7. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Savant (390) Virginia Jun 21, 2009



    Unless I'm not understanding the question properly, you can't really compare adding chips to beer and aging bourbon in a barrel. A better comparison would be oak chips in a home brew vs barrel aging a beer (kbs for example).

    In this case, the biggest difference is surface area. I don't know the math on it, but a couple of oz chips in 5 gal of beer exposes much more surface area of the wood vs 55 gal in a barrel. This is why some imperial stouts can be aged for more than a year and taste great, while anything over 2 weeks would leave an oak tree in your fermenter.
     
  8. tngolfer

    tngolfer Aficionado (225) Tennessee Feb 16, 2012

    So the oak chips are releasing flavor? The beer doesn't have to into the wood and "get it" similar to whiskey? Is that the difference between dried oak chips and charring the inside of a whiskey barrel?
     
  9. JayS2629

    JayS2629 Savant (460) Alabama Oct 23, 2010

    It doesn't take long and even after you remove it from the chips the flavor impartations will continue as it ages.