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Hamburglar57

Creating wine barrel flavor with oak chips/cubes?

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Hello again Beer Borg! :borg:

If I wanted to create a batch that was trying to replicate a beer aged in a wine barrel, would it work to do it in the same way one would do a cask or whiskey barrel infused batch: soak the chips in whiskey for a few weeks then add them in secondary? Or, because the alcohol level of the wine is lower, would I need to steam them or soak them in vodka first in order to sanitize them before soaking in the wine?

Just curious as I get a bit more adventurous in my brewing endeavors. :charlie:
Thanks for you thoughts!

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I too am going to try to bring wine flavor to a beer. I want to mimic something I tried at a beer festival. You can buy wine barrel wood chips. I've seen chardonay and merlot wood chip bags. My initial plan is to use some of those chips to age one gallon of an ipa in a glass secondary. That way if it doesn't work so well, I only buggered 1 gallon.

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Funny you brought this up - I'm planning on oaking the barleywine I brewed a couple weeks ago. Just got a few ounces of Hungarian Medium Toast Oak Cubes. From what I've been reading, oak chips will add more oak flavor (albeit more one-dimensional), and quicker than cubes due to higher surface area. They are best used in the primary, whereas cubes can be added to the secondary and aged on for a long time.

American Oak is stronger than Hungarian Oak, which is stronger than French Oak. Different levels of toast will also impart different flavors, with lighter toast imparting more spice, and darker toast more coffee and vanilla.

What I'm planning on doing is taking 1 oz of the cubes (for a 3 gallon batch), and soaking them in whiskey for a week or two, then putting them at the bottom of a glass carboy and racking my barleywine on top, then leaving for 2-4 months before bottling, periodically tasting to make sure I don't over-oak.

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I can tell you from experience that 2-4 months is long time on oak.

For reference, I've made a few batches of Firestone Walker's Double Barrel Ale now (plus a few of my own recipes) using medium oak cubes. I use between 3/4 - 1 oz in the beer for anywhere from 7-14 days and the oak comes through nicely. It's a layer in the beer, not in-your-face, but you can definitely tell it is there.

That being said, you could do a more pronounced flavor by either adding more cubes or (I assume) leaving it longer on them.

My point is that it doesn't take months and months to impart the oak flavor.

FWIW - The recipe directly from FW for their beer calls for adding the oak either 24 hours or 72 hours after pitching the yeast and then leaving it for the duration of fermentation (about 2 weeks).

Obviously you can experiment as you like, but I wanted to give you some real-world experience to have as a baseline for making decisions.

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For me, this will actually be my 2nd oaked beer as I made an oaked maple syrup dubbel with one of my cans of the seasonal Dubbel. I steamed the oak cubes to sanitize and added them after 48hrs from pitching the yeast. I left everything in the LBK for a total of 4 weeks. I'm not a huge fan of Dubbels but it turned out great and 2 of my good friends who like Belgian styles have all said it was their favorite of all of my batches.

The big question mark for me this time is involving the wine flavor into the brew. I'm thinking of doing this with a Biere de Garde style, and am hoping to get the flavors from the oak as well as a hint of dry red wine flavor. But so far most of my trial and error experiences have been good, though some have been good in learning how/what not to do again. :)

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If you want wine flavor, you'll have to get advice from somebody else. Me no likely wine. :chug:

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