Speeding up Barrel Aging with Oak Bottle

Innovation by | Dec 2016 | Issue #119

Creating custom oak-aged beers is no longer just for brewers with barrel programs. Thanks to the Kickstarter-funded Oak Bottle, anyone can age even a single bottle of beer (or wine or spirits) in hours to the exact level of infusion desired.
Founder Joel Paglione got the inspiration for Oak Bottle from his late uncle, who opened a winery shortly after a cancer diagnosis.

“Before he passed, I would go to the winery and we would walk through it,” Paglione recalls. “[I asked] why we use so many small barrels. Why not put the wine in bigger barrels to save time processing? He said to me the words that would change the course of my life: ‘What you don’t understand, Joel, is the smaller the barrel, the faster the oak infusion.’”

Each Oak Bottle is handcrafted from 100 percent American white oak and receives a medium char. Because of its size, the bottle-shaped vessel works as an oak-aging accelerator, adding subtle caramel notes, smoothness, and oak aromas 12 times faster than a standard barrel. The secret behind the Oak Bottle’s ability to accelerate the aging processes is a simple volume-to-surface-area equation; more surface area touching less volume imparts character to the liquid faster.

“The Oak Bottle is the most practical oak-aging vessel for beer, because it’s so fast you don’t lose much carbonation,” Paglione says, adding that its small volume lends the Oak Bottle to experimentation.

Like a barrel, the Oak Bottle must be filled or bathed with water to let the wood swell and seal itself. It’s then ready to be filled and left to age for two to 48 hours, depending on the desired level of infusion. Oak Bottles also come infused with different flavors, such as smoke, chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon.

The vessels can be reused for 50 – 60 aging cycles and come in three sizes, 150, 350, and 750 milliliters. Starting at $39.95, the Oak Bottle can even be customized with a personalized etching for an additional fee. More details at oakbottle.com