Using oak cubes/spirits for the first time

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Iliff Avenue Brewhouse, May 17, 2019.

  1. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    Hi all. I'm working on a recipe for a beer that I will use oak cubes with spirits for the first time.

    Anyone have a link, resources, advice that would be helpful? My plan is to soak the oak cubes in a spirit for a week or so, drain off the liquid, and add the cubes to the beer after fermentation. I'm not sure if this a sound practice or not.
     
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  2. 4Bentley

    4Bentley Member

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    Seems to me a week or two in a spirit will kill all the flavor if you throw the liquid away. I also make wine, so I boil the chips or cubes in a small amount of water for a few minutes and then add the chips and liquid to the wine.

    I would recommend something similar to beer. If you want to soak the chips in a spirit, why wouldn't you add the liquid to the beer, that is where a lot of flavor will be.

    IMAO
     
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  3. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    #3 Iliff Avenue Brewhouse, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    I just assumed the oak cubes would absorb the spirit then infuse it with the beer. Similar to aging a beer in a whiskey barrel, none of the whiskey is actually added to the beer. I'm going for something more subtle and would worry about making something too boozy tasting.
     
  4. 4Bentley

    4Bentley Member

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    I think it is the other way around. The spirit will leach out a lot of the flavor from the cubes and leave just the cellulose.
     
  5. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    #5 Iliff Avenue Brewhouse, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Ok thanks. I suppose I'm a bit confused by beers that are actually aged in barrels where the spirits have been removed.

    Seems like there are obviously multiple methods. I'm going for something relatively subtle (as it's a strange beer I have planned) so I think I might just go with my initial thought.

    "If you are interested in trying your hand at a bourbon-aged oak flavor, try soaking your cubes for two weeks in a few ounces of bourbon or whiskey, and discard the whiskey before adding the oak to your beer (I find Wild Turkey blends well with darker beers). It is very easy to overdo the addition of bourbons or whiskeys, and less is definitely more which is why I prefer letting the cubes dose the beer over time. The oak should be up front, with the booze layered softly under the malt. If the flavor is not pronounced enough after two months of being on the oak, adding bourbon straight to the keg is acceptable, but be careful not to overuse it"
     
  6. 4Bentley

    4Bentley Member

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    Sounds good. Go for it. Seems to me a good waste of whiskey though, and there will be a lot of oak flavor in the liquid. Gotta be a way to use it somewhere.
     
  7. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    Eh not too worried about a few oz of spirits. I can save it and add it to the beer if I necessary.
     
  8. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Your not really aging the whiskey rather sterilizing the oak chips. So add enough cheap vodka to cover the wood chips. Then dump the whole lot into the beer when the recipe calls for the oak addition.

    No sense wasting a good whiskey as you won’t taste it and it’s only function is to sterilize the oak.
     
  9. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    #9 Iliff Avenue Brewhouse, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    You guys are really confusing me. Ha! So that source I quoted has no validity?

    Can someone tell me what the point of adding a beer to an empty bourbon barrel is? Does it only get the wood character and none of the bourbon? I am honestly just trying to understand. I must be on crazy pills. I will stop wasting everyone's time and do some more research. Thanks for the advice!

    Seems that the best method is to save the spirit after soaking the cubes and add it to taste if necessary.
     
  10. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Assuming you are making a 5 gallon batch of brew, whether you add a cup of cheap vodka or a cup of the best bourbon you can find.... you'll not taste the difference in the beer.

    *a cups worth of alcohol would be plenty to cover the oak chips for sterilization purposes.
     
  11. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

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    Iliff Ave --
    Cool please let us know what you find out. I think the answer is both are probably right.
    I'm interested.
     
  12. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    #12 Iliff Avenue Brewhouse, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Just for context, my plan is a small batch Belgian golden strong ale aged on light toast french oak soaked in blanco tequila. I get that probably sounds bad to some which is why I kept it pretty non-specific. Due to the base beer, I want to keep it mild so saving the "oaked" tequila makes sense to add if I need it.

    Probably around 2.5 gallons so I will use 1 oz of oak cubes at most.
     
  13. 4Bentley

    4Bentley Member

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    I believe you should follow the recipe for the sake of consistency. If you are adding beer to a bourbon barrel you will get the flavor of both bourbon and oak, as the bourbon has been in the barrel for years. Two weeks of soaking the chips does sterilize them, but probably won't absorb enough bourbon to flavor a batch of beer. I would save the liquid, as you could add it later to taste.
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Soaking, usually in bourbon and then adding the chips or cubes is probably the most common method. Cubes take many weeks or even months to flavor the spirits. You're not going to leach out the flavor. Chips are much faster because they have much more surface area.
    I know guys who routinely use Jack Daniels grilling chips (chipped up barrel staves) for aging. Apparently very effective and cheaper than cubes or spirals.
     
  15. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    Any thoughts on how many of ounces of chips per gallon?
     
  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I think it's a common practice. A quick search will probably lead to some pertinent discussions. I haven't tried it yet so I can't make a specific recommendation.
    I'm definitely going to try it when I make a RIS for aging this fall.
     
  17. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    After seeing what you are brewing, I am looking forward to how the brew progresses and ultimately tastes!
     
  18. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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  19. Texas Ale Works

    Texas Ale Works Active Member

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    So, it really depends on what you want.
    Are you looking for:
    Barrel aged, Burbon Barrel aged, or just replicating cask drawn beer.

    All these are different things. Barrel aged is just oak, vanillin and such from a barrel, using toasted and charred staves or chips will get you there.

    Burbon Barrel aged has all of the above, plus the flavor left in the wood from the " Devil's cut " the portion of burbon that is absorbed by the wood.

    Cask drawn is similar to barrel aged with out the char and toast.

    My take anyway.

    T
     
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  20. Iliff Avenue Brewhouse

    Iliff Avenue Brewhouse Active Member

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    Tequila barrel aged. Mild.
     
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