Oak to a sour brown

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by calir1, May 15, 2018.

  1. calir1

    calir1 Aspirant (206) Nov 7, 2004 Maryland
    Trader

    I have been doing some reading and curious on the amount of time oak cubes were to sit on a sour beer. I’ve read a month to a year? I was planning on dumping an ounce or so oak chips on. Maybe a light to medium French oak. Does a year on the oak sound right?

    Thanks.
     
  2. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,738) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Premium

    I don’t like the set it and forget it strategy with oak because I worry things can get too oaky for me fast. But I have only used chips, for a few days to a week or so. Cubes can be left for longer, from what I’ve heard and read, but I would plan on tasting periodically, and racking off the cubes when you like what you’re tasting.
     
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  3. calir1

    calir1 Aspirant (206) Nov 7, 2004 Maryland
    Trader

    Thanks. I plan on soaking them in wine for a few weeks first. I just don’t want to overdo it and also don’t want to keep checking it.

     
  4. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (379) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    No experience with sour beers , but the longest I have Oaked a brew is 4 months. It was great, for my taste.
     
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  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,738) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Premium

    Given @GormBrewhouse ’s comment maybe check it every 2 months?
     
  6. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (30) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    I have been soaking some oak, medium+ toasted cubes, in a 5 gallon batch of beer for 45 days now. The day I transferred to secondary, I wanted to add 2 ounces from a large bag, but I didn't have a scale at the time so I estimated by hand using something that weighed 2 ounces, for comparison. The amount of oak I ended up adding was equal to a cup of volume. I may have overshot the 2 ounces, not sure... So I have been planning to sample it any day now. It's just been sitting in secondary.

    It will be interesting to taste it. When I boiled the oak to sterilize it, I tasted some of the "tea" and it was very pleasant, smooth, and reminded me of oak barrels themselves. I also fear the beer getting too oaky. I'm not sure what that would be like.
     
  7. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (379) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Could be very tannic or woody, no pun intended. But also, depending on the wood, you may get a ton of vanilla.
    Since the tea was not bitter or astringent you might be ok or even need more time. All depends on your preference.
     
  8. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (379) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Also, I find my bottled Oaked or other wooded brews get much better after 3-4 months in the bottle. At a year they are killer, just not many left then, lol.
     
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  9. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (812) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Why on earth would you want to oak a sour beer?
     
  10. calir1

    calir1 Aspirant (206) Nov 7, 2004 Maryland
    Trader

    Well I’m confused? Why not?

     
  11. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (812) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Just because a lot of sour beer is aged in oak doesn't mean that you want oak character in them. The vast majority of the oak/wood used to age sour beer in is neutral.
     
  12. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (183) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Eh, it's a common enough preference that Mike Tonsmeire includes tips on how to do it in his book. Definitely not a crazy thing to do.
     
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  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (812) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I would agree that it is rather common, but people are usually operating under the wrong assumptions when they do it.
     
  14. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (183) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Yeah maybe, I don't know. Have you had the Single Tree: Hickory beer from Scratch? It's sour and woody and one of the best beers I've ever had.
     
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  15. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (812) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I have not. Sour and bitter/tannic/woody never struck a chord with me, but I'll trust your recommendation if I ever see it.
     
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  16. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (183) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Their clean beers are variable, but I've never gone wrong with a Scratch sour.
     
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  17. Jake_Ramrod

    Jake_Ramrod Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2013 Kentucky

    Hickory is a wonderful beer. As are all of their sours IMO.
     
  18. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (379) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Is it aged o. Hickory wood and is it fresh or charged wood?
     
  19. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (183) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    I'm not really sure, but here's how they describe it on their website:

    bottle-conditioned sour ale brewed without hops. bittered and flavored with hickory leaves, nuts, hulls, and bark, all harvested from our property, and fermented with our wild house mixed culture. 5.8% abv, 500ml
     
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  20. calir1

    calir1 Aspirant (206) Nov 7, 2004 Maryland
    Trader

    Well I am making 10 gallons but I plan on soaking some oak in Cabernet wine for a bit And tossing them in. Either way I might as well try and then I will know if it was a good idea or not.
     
  21. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (30) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    I just wanted to update because I just opened the first bottle of the oak beer I mentioned above. It's still needs to carbonate more in the bottle, but it's turning out well. On the first sip, the oak exploded late with a really nice amount of warm vanilla. Definitely toasted wood in the nose, too.

    It's a 7% rye porter so there's gotta be a lot of oak flavor to come through. It went from April 1st to June 1st (no math = 2 months) just sitting on the oak cubes in secondary.

    After 2 months, I'm not even sure more time would benefit. However, I am currently soaking the left over oak in a jug of water and still getting flavor from it.
     
    #21 Push_the_limits, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  22. TooHopTooHandle

    TooHopTooHandle Initiate (84) Dec 20, 2016 New York

    @calir1 I know you posted this a while ago, but I thought I might be able to add some input from my experience. I recently just bottled my sour that sat on peaches and medium toast French oak cubes soaked in a bottle of sauvignon blanc wine. I used .75oz of cubes that I boiled for 2 minutes then discarded the water (to help remove some of the tannins). I then soaked those cubes in an entire 750ml bottle of the wine for 2 months. I then added the wine and cubes to the secondary with the peaches and let that age for 4 months. I do not get any oak presence at all nor does anyone else that has tried the beer. This was a 5 gallon batch. So you may want to up the amount of cubes that you use. I went with .75oz because when I used oak chips I was using .75oz and it was quite noticeable, but I know the cubes impart less flavor in a shorter time than chips due to surface area. I wanted a slight oak presence in the sour, but didn't want it to be to noticeable. If I were to do it again I would try 1oz-1.5oz per 5 gallons and maybe not boil them.
     
  23. calir1

    calir1 Aspirant (206) Nov 7, 2004 Maryland
    Trader

    Huh. Thanks. I was planning on doing an ounce for 5 gallons in Cabernet. Maybe I’ll jump it up to 1.5.

    I appreciate your feedback.
     
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  24. TooHopTooHandle

    TooHopTooHandle Initiate (84) Dec 20, 2016 New York

    Maybe you might want to try like 1-1.25oz first? you can always taste before bottling and see if its where you want it. If its not you can always add more, but you cant take it away if you over do it.
    So maybe do 1-1.25oz in one jar soaking in most of the wine. Then take a second jar and maybe put like .5oz in that jar with enough wine for them to soak in. Then if the first addition isn't enough, you can just dump in the second addition and let it sit for like a week. If you start the jars at the same time, the second jars liquid should extract a nice amount of oak flavor while the first jar is already in the beer and aging. Just some food for thought there for you :slight_smile: I hope this works out for you and please write back with an update when you can. Cheers!
     
  25. dantheman13

    dantheman13 Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2010 Nevada

    I usually go for the long exposure. I don't really think you can "over-extract" oak, it's more of an adding too much oak. The bulk of the initial extraction is pretty quick. The thing I don't like about oak additions is that pencil shaving character. I get it a lot from spirals, which I use a lot more than cubes, so I don't know if cubes put off a lot of that. With spirals, you get this pencil shaving character pretty quickly, then it goes away after about 6-9 months, and you are left with some nice tannic structure. So I usually go with one spiral (no soaking) right after primary fermentation (2 oak spirals if the sour beer is more aggressive), and let the beer bulk age on the spiral. I'm not saying this is the best way to do it, just the way that I do it. I've never really been happy with oak barrel substitutes in sour beers though. They just don't reproduce true barrel character IMO. Oak barrels go through a 2-year curing process in which a lot of vanillans and other compounds are created, and I am not sure that is completely replicated in cubes/spirals.
     
  26. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (812) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    ^^^ Also, this.

    Nice to see you here, Dan. I know you're busy with MTF, but it's great to get your $0.02 on subjects like this. The wiki done yet? :wink:
     
  27. CarolusP

    CarolusP Initiate (107) Oct 22, 2015 Minnesota

    Is this the same with stouts? I oaked an imperial stout which a bottled a few months ago. It only had the oak for about 5 week IIRC, but it has a very intense character from the oak that I think could be described as pencil shavings.

    I'm not really sure why I oaked that beer. I don't even like oaked stouts. I'm dumb sometimes.