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How much Oak is too much oak?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by EndofDays, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. EndofDays

    EndofDays Initiate (15) Dec 27, 2012

    Just trying to get peoples thoughts on the differences on Light, Medium, and Dark Color oak chips? Also how much you think to use?
  2. It depends on the beer and the flavor I’m looking for. The darker the toast the more caramel/vanilla you get, lower toasts are more woody/spicy. There is also the question of oak origin.

    I tend to use cubes because they have a slower extraction. That way it’s easier to taste the beer and catch it when it’s at a good level. I tend to use 1-2 oz for 5 gallons. I usually either steam them, or soak them in liquor to remove some of the fresh “lumber” wood flavors. It can take a couple months in the beer to get the flavor I want, but I find less oak for longer gives a more complex oak character to the finished beer.
  3. Him

    Him Aspirant (35) Florida Dec 29, 2012

    As OldSock said it depends what your looking for. The quantity you use doesnt make a difference other than the amount of time you leave it on the oak. A little bit will have to be aged longer, while the more you use the less time it takes. I suggest whatever way you choose that you sample the beer every other day so you dont overdue it. Also remember the oak will slowly fade over time. So if you overdue it a little, it will mellow out over time.
  4. If it tastes like you're chewing on furniture, it's too much.

    I have some medium toast chips that I have had for a long time. I don't use them too much because they have a really woody character that takes a long time to age out and basically after a day or two you need to take them out. Even boiling in water or aging them in whiskey doesn't do much to help to lumber character. They have to be used in small amounts for a subtle spicy character. So I'd say choose cubes or that new honeycomb stuff over chips and you probably want to use a darker toast, especially if you are trying to emulate bourbon barrel aging.

    Best results IMO is to find a wood source and toast (and char if desired) yourself in your oven or on a grill. I have some smoking wood I bought for my smoker that I picked out some small pieces of heartwood and toasted in the oven. I let them sit too long and they are straight black. Even still, they produce fantastic flavor and aroma and surprisingly little or no burnt character. I keep them in whiskey to add some character to the beer and to keep them sanitary. It's hard not to want to just drink the whiskey. Sometimes I do.
  5. pmgerholdt

    pmgerholdt Disciple (70) New York Oct 14, 2010

    They grind up Jack Daniel's bourbon barrels and sell the chips for cooking/smoking. Good bang for buck. They work well. Have also soaked them in a decent bourbon, put nearly a quart jar of wood chips into 5 gallons barley wine, let it sit there for a couple months, to nice effect. Did NOT add the liquid bourbon to the beer! It turned black. Sip on it once in a while for "essence of oak tannin bourbon" experience.