Oak Chip Theory...What if?

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Oak Chip Theory...What if?

Post by HardcoreLegend » Tue May 20, 2003 11:57 am

With the recent oak barrel and bourbon barrel aged brew craze going on, I got to thinking about something. I'm not willing or able to fill a barrel. And don't quite think I'm ready for such a large project. But, what if I went to my LHBS and bought a small package of "Medium Toast French Oak Chips", and soaked them in some high quality Bourbon whiskey til they were saturated. Then, what if, I brewed a beer, say a brown ale style, and after primary fermentation was complete, racked the brew and the Bourbon saturated oak chips into the secondary and aged it for awhile. Do you think this might create an economy version of Bourbon barrel aging? How long would I leave it in the secondary. Would you alter the chips in any way, like maybe char them a little? Tell me what you think.

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Post by Mesa Maltworks » Wed May 21, 2003 2:21 pm

Back about 5 years ago when this fad came to my attention, I thought it interesting, but I also thought it wouldn't last. WRONG!!! It actually has spawned off a number of spirit barrel aged brews beyond whiskey.

From my Scotch distilling experience, I can offer the following, although untested, recommendations:

I think it is a great idea to use the wine oak chips you can get. It is all the better that they are medium toasted, most of what you find are either un-toasted of lightly toasted at best.

As far as futher charring them, I wouldn't. The only thing it would do is add more color and increase conditioning time and may add a creosote note to your brew.

Soaking the chips in Bourbon, rather than whiskey is the way to go, but get the cheapest you can find. Bourbon is sort of an "appelation de controlle" as only spirits produced in Kentucky and aged in charred barrels can carry this label. The flavor notes from the charred barrels used in Bourbon production will give you the desired flavors regardless of Bourbon brand. You should soak the chips until they completely absorb the Bourbon (takes up to 2 weeks). Then spread them out to dry at room temperature. Add them to the secondary and let them soak for 1 week in a typical brown or 2 weeks for a stout.

Good luck!


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Great minds...

Post by brewerboy » Mon May 30, 2011 2:52 pm

Our brew group rolled out our first oaked brew this past weekend and amazingly enough, it's almost exactly what you described: a simple brown ale with medium-toast oak chips soaked in (cheap) bourbon for a week before adding to the secondary. It was _awesome_!


This one will most definitely become one of our "regulars". I can hardly wait to make another batch!

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