Cypress wood in secondary

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by nolabrew, Nov 8, 2013.

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  1. nolabrew

    nolabrew Initiate (88) Apr 20, 2010 Louisiana

    I call my home brew Cypress Knee Brew House because I seem to spend most of my life cutting down cypress knees in my back yard and I use some of the larger ones as my tap handles. I've got a rye barley wine in primary right now that I was going to rack on to some oak chips, but then it hit me, why not rack it on to some cypress scraps? Anyone ever done this? Will it kill me? What does it taste like? How long should I soak the scraps in bourbon?
  2. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (575) Jun 12, 2009 Oregon

    Never tried cypress but I've thought of trying different/unusual types of wood as well. I'd recommend cold steeping the wood for a few days or making a tea to see what kind of base flavors you get from the wood. You could also try blending this tea into a similar beer to get an idea of how well it fits the flavor profile.
  3. ryane

    ryane Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2007 Washington

    GetMeAnIPA and sneezye like this.
  4. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    My experience with cypress is that it is a good natural wood for standing up to humid/wet conditions, which makes me think it must have a lot of strong naturally occurring chemicals for resisting rot.

    I like the tap handle idea, but I don't associate the smell when I have been cutting it with anything that would really work in beer.
  5. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (596) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    This is a question for Dogfish head!

    Cypress is coniferous and has a lot of the same resins as pine - would you like that in your beer? I'd personally do some research and tread cautiously.

    edit: You have plenty of live oak down there; that might work much better.
  6. RashyGrillCook

    RashyGrillCook Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2011 Florida

    I'm a woodworker as well (building guitars and furniture) and virtually all wood is considered to be toxic. Mainly, its the wood dust that really messes with your system. I love the look of quarter-sawn Oak but the dust makes me break out in hives.

    Oak is also good for standing up to wet/humid conditions. In fact, people make buckets, barrels, and foeders out of various varieties of Oak to hold various liquids. And believe me when working Oak lumber it doesn't smell anything like how people describe Oak aged libations.

    I don't think Cypress would taste very good in a beer(or any Conifer wood for that matter). Stick to the deciduous varieties. Cigar City's Spanish Cedar expressions are delicious IMO but they missed the mark with the Maple aged stuff. If the Maple was roasted/charred (like Oak) I think it would be exponentially better. Out of all the exotic woods I've worked I think Blue Mahoe shows some real potential as a flavor addition. If you like dill then Bocote is spot on.(Bocote aged cucumber saison anyone?). In your neck of the woods you could try something like Pecan or Walnut wood.
  7. ryane

    ryane Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2007 Washington

    This is true, but some are really nasty.

    I was recently working with some mansonia and got a very small sliver in my hand. Turns out there is a really nasty poison in the wood, pulled the splinter out but the spot where it happened pussed up and was tender for ~1wk. Ive had a couple now and they all end up that way, bright side of it is the piece turned out really well and Im done working with the wood now:slight_smile:

    Ever work with Zebrawood? maybe the OP should age on that, oh the aroma he would get.....
  8. RashyGrillCook

    RashyGrillCook Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2011 Florida

    Haven't used mansonia, but Ipe gave me one hell of an infected splinter. I've worked with Zebrawood once (and still have a nice size cutoff laying about) and your right about the smell. A beer aged on that stuff......oh man. I can just hear the "Zebra-blanket" aroma descriptions now. :astonished:
  9. jgasparine

    jgasparine Savant (958) Nov 17, 2007 Maryland

    I agree that with RashyGrillCook on multiple points. I also believe Cypress will not impart a favorable aroma or flavor. While I haven't experimented with Cypress in beer, I have brewed with a variety of other conifers such as white pine, douglas fir, long leaf heart pine, and red cedar. None have been promising; all have imparted nuances of turpentine and/or other unfavorable chemicals.

    I suppose, however, this could also come down to personal preference. I have found old texts that say men came to appreciate the flavor that pitch imparted on their beer (back when the germans were still pitching their wooden barrels).

    I have been tinkering with wood in beer since 2006, worked with organic chemists, and sifted through mountains of research related to wood and/or alcoholic beverages. And the one thing I have learned is there's no replacement for the good-ol' human nose to identify a good candidate for aging beer. If the wood doesn't smell like something you want to taste (before you put it in the beer), then you probably won't find the end result to be very favorable either.

    Also, while some species of wood might affect your skin or respiratory system, it doesn't mean that it's necessarily bad for making beer (and vice-versa, wood that does nothing to your skin or respiratory system can be deadly). Ipe often causes skin reactions, but the wood and bark is used in South America to made medicinal teas. On the flip-side I have handled yew wood plenty without a skin reaction, and that wood can kill you if ingested.
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