Oak cubes in a mixed ferm saison

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by thebriansmaude, Nov 27, 2019.

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  1. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (110) Dec 16, 2016 Canada (AB)

    Hey all,

    I'm looking to add a bit of simulated 'barrel' character to a mixed fermentation saison. The beer is quite small at ~5% abv, it is pale with a grist of pilsner malt, spelt and flaked wheat. It was fermented with a pitch of WY3711, as well as a repitched slurry of brett / pedio / lacto / commercial and bottle dreggs from another sour project.

    I have never worked with Oak before, but I'm leaning towards cubes - I wan't a subtle flavor impact because it is a delicate and small beer. Any suggestions on Oak type / quantities for such a beer ? How long to leave the beer on oak before bottling ? The beer has already been aging for about 4 months.

    Any one have experience adding wood to such a light / small beer ?

  2. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (472) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I would start with just an ounce or 2 of oak.
    I do like the cubes, it seems to be a bit more controllable thank chunks / chips.
    Also look at toast rates - medium is probably a good place to start.
    I would take a little taste at about 10 days to 2 weeks - for a lighter beer like that you'll need less than a big stout or something.
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  3. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    I made a "gin barrel" saison earlier this year. My process was to soak 1oz medium toast oak cubes in gin, discard the cubes and add the oak-infused spirit to taste at bottling. I am very happy with the results. Obviously if you aren't using spirit, your process will be different but with regards to adding subtle barrel character to a small beer like this, I say go for it, I think you will have success.

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  4. MrOH

    MrOH Poo-Bah (2,048) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    Boiling the cubes in a generous amount of water for 15 minutes will greatly reduce their impact.
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  5. wasatchback

    wasatchback Devotee (414) Jan 12, 2014 Tajikistan

    Medium to Mesium Plus French Oak cubes. 1-2oz for 1-3 months depending on what you want to achieve. The oak will dissipate over time as the beer bottle conditions.

    Second half of this podcast will tell you just about everything you need to know. Although the whole thing is phenomenal.

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  6. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (110) Dec 16, 2016 Canada (AB)

    I will give this a listen for sure.

    So for a timeline of flavour intensity do I expect a peak early on and then a slow decline through bulk aging? Or an increase in flavour as long as the beer is in contact with the cubes ?

    Good to know things can mellow in the bottle if it’s a bit much

    @MrOH , that sounds like a really good idea for dialing down the intensity a bit, thanks
  7. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Initiate (0) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I would echo earlier sentiments:

    • Boil for a few mins to remove some of the harsher oak tannin
    • Add 1 oz
    • Thief sample every 2 weeks after about a month until desired level achieved.

    I would warn against going 2 oz though in such a light, dry beer. Oak can overwhelm delicate beers like this rather easily. Thus the boil and limit to 1 oz. I like the recommendations for medium French oak. It’s a French style beer... why not keep the oak in the same vein?
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  8. Davl22

    Davl22 Disciple (374) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire

    I'd use a french oak spiral over cubes or chips. I've gotten better results in my saison's/grisette's boiling the spiral for a few minutes, soaking it in my favorite white or red wine for a couple of weeks, and then adding during fermentation/conditioning 1-2 months or more. Much more subtle character.
    thebriansmaude likes this.
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