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Bourbon Barrel Chips

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1 year 10 months ago #1888 by xenon
xenon created the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
Hi All,

Anyone had any experience using bourbon barrel chips. LHBS said soak em in a bourbon and add the whole thing to the fermenter. I have read the big boys producing these types of specialty beers are barrel ageing for 12 to 24 months. I want a decent but balanced taste. Not just a smidge that needs pointing out. Its going in an imperial oatmeal stout or porter 8-10% range, but I haven't fully decided on the final gist or style that will lend itself the best. Seemingly all grain specialty recipes aren't that high in detail about the adjuncts or least i have been looking in the wrong place. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Cheers :cheer:

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1 year 10 months ago #1889 by Gash
Gash replied the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
I haven't brewed them myself, but have read a lot, its all about tasting as it ages until you get it where you want it. Barrel aging can add all sorts of flavours, not just the wood or bourbon but usually the beer oxides and even sours. So chips won't always give you the same flavours that barrel aging does, still worth a shot though!. I'll take a few pics out of the extreme beers book by Sam from Dogfish Head

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1 year 10 months ago #1890 by Gash
Gash replied the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
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1 year 10 months ago #1891 by Gash
Gash replied the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
and there is this from BYO mag.

Dear Mr. Wizard,
My buddies and I are thinking about trying to make a Utopia clone. I understand that Sam Adams likes to age their beers in old sherry casks. How can we imitate sherry casks with oak chips? I’ve seen a variety of toast levels, but no one seems to sell sherry or bourbon cask chips. Can we just soak the oak chips in sherry for a while before we add them to the secondary? Flexibility to try bourbon or sherry chips with other beers would be great.

Joe Dunne
Chicago, Illinois

Mr. Wizard replies:
Popularity of beers aged in a variety of used oak barrels has really blossomed over the last decade and Sam Adams is one of the breweries that has come out with several of such beers. My take on these beers is that the used oak barrel acts as a vector to flavor beer with what was previously in the barrel. Stouts aged in old bourbon barrels taste like stout flavored with bourbon and beers aged in old sherry casks taste like sherry-flavored beer. This is a pretty obvious observation but has a practical implication for homebrewers who do not have access to used oak barrels — or do not brew enough beer to fill a barrel.

Homebrewing is very different from commercial brewing in that homebrew is not taxed and the regulations governing commercial brewing do not apply. At home or in a pilot brewery a brewer can make an oaky bourbon stout by adding oak chips to a stout during aging to get the desired affect from the oak and then blend this beer with bourbon, whisky or scotch to add whatever flavor and intensity is desired from the liquor.

Commercial brewers can use all sorts of approved ingredients and for ingredients that are not on the approved list, a special statement of process must be filed with the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), formerly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). If I were to review a statement of process proposing to add liquor to beer, my suspicions would be raised since the tax rate on beer is lower than that of wine and liquor. I am not suggesting that beer aged in used barrels is done to discretely add liquor to beer, but this method is available to homebrewers and not so easily to commercial brewers.

When I consider making a clone, the first thing I do is carefully taste the beer of interest and develop a flavor profile in my head. The idea here is not to determine how the beer was made, but rather to simply define its flavor as completely as possible. The next question is how to replicate the beer flavor given the tools available. In the case of Sam Adams Utopia, one of the primary flavor descriptors may indeed be “sherry cask.” This beer and others brewed by Sam Adams are also very high in alcohol — brewing the base beer is a challenge that goes beyond simply getting the barrel flavors.

“Sherry cask” flavor can be further broken down into oak character and sherry character. If I were brewing this sort of beer I would address the flavors individually. Oak character can be added either by adding oak chips to beer or aging the beer in a barrel. I would lean toward buying a new small oak barrel because oxygen slowly diffuses into a barrel during aging and this probably has an influence on barrel-aged beer. To my palate, many of the strong beers aged in oak have flavors associated with oxidation. This term is almost always a negative connotation in the world of beer, but not all oxidation is necessarily bad when very strong beers are aged. In high alcohol beers, oxidized flavors may remind one of raisins, dates and sherry. In my experience with aging beer in new oak barrels, a couple of months are required before the beer really starts to take on appreciable oak flavor. Tasting throughout the aging process is important and there is no magic timeframe.

The same is true if one chooses to add oak chips to the secondary fermentation. After I got the brew where I wanted it with respect to beer flavor, oak flavor and aged flavors, I would begin to play with adding the wine or spirit component. This type of blending is always best done by preparing several samples of beer with varying levels of blended mixtures so that the flavor impact can be tasted over a range of concentrations. You may find that even a little of the planned flavor additive makes for a vile brew and you can avert a disaster.

This method is probably not for every brewer as it is actually quite unorthodox. For that matter, aging beer in an old bourbon, sherry or whisky barrel is pretty strange in the mind of many brewers. However, if the purpose of homebrewing is to create beer with a certain flavor profile, it seems that the finished product is more important than the method used to make it. If you really wanted to soak oak chips in the wine or spirit of your choice and then add the infused chips to your beer, I think the flavor would be more difficult to control and the method is no more “pure” than adding the two ingredients independently. Good luck in your endeavors!

For more of the Wiz's wisdom pick up the latest issue of Brew Your Own magazine now available at better homebrew retailers and newsstand locations.

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1 year 10 months ago #1892 by Gash
Gash replied the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
Oak Alternatives
Author: James Alexander
Issue: Jan/Feb 2008
What to do when you want oak, but barrel aging is out of the question.



Oak barrels are great, but they’re not for everyone. They’re expensive, they take up a lot of room and they need to either be constantly filled and topped up with beer or undergo periodical maintenance to keep them usable. For the serious wood-beer brewer, these aren’t going to be an obstacle; but what if you’d like to experiment with wood and beer, but aren’t sure if you want it to become a big “thing.” If so, try these alternatives for easy, affordable oaking of your brew.

Oak Essence and Powder

Two easy ways to get oak character in your beers are to add oak essence or oak powder. These options quickly impart their flavors. Oak essence, such as Sinatin 17, is a liquid and only needs to be stirred in. Oak powder can be stirred into beer, and once it has settled, all the oak character will be extracted. (The quick extraction is due to the high surface area to volume nature of powder.) In both cases, the package will give dosage recommendations for wine and this usually amounts to a couple ounces per 5 gallons (19 L). Generally, you will want to add less for beer than for wine, but the amount is really up to you. With both these options, you can add a small amount in secondary, taste the beer and add more if desired. Although these options are very quick, the quality of oak character derived from them is variable. Most homebrewers who use alternative oaking methods use chips, cubes or larger pieces of wood.

Oak Chips

Oak chips are an old standby for winemakers and a good option for brewers looking to impart some oak character to their beer. They are available in French oak, which gives a “refined” oak character, and American oak, which has a slightly more aggressive edge to it. They are also available at different levels of toast. In beer, you can add from 0.5 oz. (14 g) to 2.5 oz. (71 g) to your beer. Full extraction occurs in about two weeks.

Oak Cubes

Many winemakers, who have had a lot of experience with oak, feel oak cubes are a step up from chips. Oak contains volatile compounds that evaporate from chips and powder because of their higher surface to volume ratio. To confirm this for yourself, cut a piece of oak and smell the freshly-cut surface. Compare it to the older surfaces. Chips and sawdust have lost virtually all of what you smell from the freshly cut surface long before you buy them. In addition, powder often causes beer to foam and in some cases takes a while to settle completely.

Oak cubes are available in American, Hungarian and French oak at various levels of toast. Research has shown that wine penetrates about 6 mm into the oak staves of a barrel, and we would expect beer to do the same. Light toast is a surface treatment with no measurable depth; medium toasting penetrates 2 mm into the wood and heavy toasting reaches 3–4 mm in depth. Oak cubes are about 6 mm on each side, providing enough depth for heavy toasting and ensuring full flavor extraction. The toasting is intentionally varied over the surface to provide a broader spectrum of flavors.

The amount of cubes to add to a 5-gallon (19-L) batch of beer is the same as with chips, but the extraction of oak character is slower. You will need to age your beer for 4–6 weeks to get the most from the cubes. This obviously allows for the option of periodically sampling your beer and racking away from the cubes when you reach an amount of oak that is pleasing to you.

Staves and Spirals

Most home winemaking shops will carry powder, chips and cubes. Some may also carry staves or “infusion spirals.” Staves are just the sides of a barrel and spirals are specially-cut pieces of wood. Spirals provide a surface-to-volume ratio that is less than cubes, but much greater than than a full barrel.

If you use a whole stave or spiral in a 5-gallon (19-L) batch of beer, you will add considerably more wood (by weight) to your beer. Your control over the level of oaking will come from the contact time with the beer. It takes about 20 weeks to fully extract the desired oak characteristics from a spiral, and longer still for a stave. Of course, these can be used for shorter amounts of time to oak several batches of beer sequentially. With each reuse, the oak character will get less intense and will take longer to extract. The “full-on” oak character from a fresh piece of wood will stand up nicely to big, fully-flavored beers, but a subtle hint of oak from a well-used piece of oak may be just the thing for some session beers.

Lumber for Your Lager?

It is important that you do not use oak lumber in your beer. Lumber has additives to reduce cracking and warping during the drying process that you don’t want in your beer. Shop for your oak at a home winemaking shop, not Home Depot.

Sanitation

When brewing a fruit beer, homebrewers are divided over whether the fruit should be sanitized. And, this argument plays out exactly the same way when talking about oak. If you’re brave — and don’t want to miss out on any of the delicate oak aromas — just add the wood directly to the beer after primary. If not, soak your oak in 160–170 °F (71–77 °C) water for 15 minutes to sanitize it. You can save the “wood water” to touch up the batch, if needed.

Some brewers also soak their oak alternatives in spirits like bourbon or whiskey to simulate the flavor effect of using a used spirit barrel. If you want to try this method, soak your oak pieces in just enough spirits to cover the cubes (Ziplock baggies are an easy method). Soak for anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks for most common usage. The amount of time you soak is relative to how much flavor you will pick up: less than 24 hours won’t yield much flavor, while more than two weeks is probably unnecessary, and likely won’t pick up additional flavor.

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1 year 10 months ago #1893 by xenon
xenon replied the topic: Bourbon Barrel Chips
Was tossing up getting his book. Opted for designing great beers and brew like a monk in the finish. Xmas is coming though lol. But if i'm hearing you correctly even using the same chip brand doesn't guarantee repeatable results or barrel aged every time. I had feared it was going to be a trial by taste and its a little harder by the fact a porter or stout needs a fair amount longer to mellow. The flavor is somewhat confused and un-carbed as it is. I don't have that experience behind me yet. Me thinks a turkey baster from the $2 store for pinching samples.

www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/all...rbonBarrelPorter.pdf
just found this too. Don't why this didnt come up in earlier searches.


Cheers for those pics though bro and cheers Sam, its going to good use B)

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Drunken Ramblings

Finnroo's Avatar Finnroo - Thu 21 Sep - 13:55

Wigram Brewery APA in the glass, Thin Lizzy on the platter. It does nt get any better, Cheers all lol

Gash's Avatar Gash - Thu 21 Sep - 07:52

That sounds sensational!

Finnroo's Avatar Finnroo - Wed 20 Sep - 12:02

Enjoying a wigram brewery Harvard Honey Ale. Outstanding with a bit of Savatage streets on the platter. Cheers, out there brewing it. lol

Finnroo's Avatar Finnroo - Mon 18 Sep - 19:29

Bottling day tomorrow, should be good :D

Beef's Avatar Beef - Sat 16 Sep - 13:53

Hey Gash, got a quick question, was thinking about putting 2 All INN citra wort kits in the fermentersaurus, 30L, Then after ferment, adding the 5L cooled boiled water with priming Dex to each keg and filling, What do you think?

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