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03/28/07 09:26 AM  
A toast ... to oak
Well, given the events of the last 9 days I have to say MarkM's box arriving yesterday with treasures from the land of beer was about as welcome as something could be. Sending it was prompted by Marks knowledge that I like aging on oak cubes (somehow these got named "beans"). He does wood working and was nice enough to cut up a bunch of scraps into itty bitty cubes like you can buy. Awesome, thse suckers are like 5 bucks for 2.5 ounces, it probably be cheaper to buy a chair and cut it up.

Last detail, beans come in a variety of toast levels, I've become partial to medium toast. So how would one toast oak? My instincts say heat the oven to 350, put a few in for 15 minutes, pull them out, cool them and see what I have. Considering what they cost Mark sent me a small fortunes-worth so a little trial and error is possible. What would you do and why?

Al B
03/28/07 10:12 AM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
I'd use a butane torch.

Because I like to use a butane torch.

Al Bar-B-Q

03/28/07 03:44 PM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
I'd go with the oven...I think it's more contollable, more thorough, and a little more gentle on the wood. I'd be concerned that a butane torch would be more likely to result in uneven toasting (read: possible very green flavors, possible very burnt flavors) or toasting that does not penetrate the wood to a sufficient depth...by that I mean that the surface would toast quickly, while the wood underneath, which will contribute flavor depending on contact time, could remain untoasted.

This source prefers the oven method: thehomebrewstore. com /FoamyExpress0403. htm

In-depth article on size and toast of the oak: winebusiness. com/ ReferenceLibrary/ webarticle. cfm?dataId=18030

And for the chemistry wonks, more oak info than you could shake a stave at: scientificsocieties. org/ jib/ papers/ 2006/ G-2006-1023-457.pdf

03/28/07 03:49 PM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
Keep in mind, too, that one reason oak barrels (or alternatives) cost an arm and a leg is that the wood is typically aged about three years in open air. Typical oak you could buy to build things with is, I would guess, not treated this way, and might even contain some shall we say gustatorically unwelcome chemical treatments...just something that popped into my head. You might want to check the provenance of the wood itself.
03/28/07 05:48 PM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
The stuff I have is American white oak, kiln-dried no chemicals. Think I'll play with a few things.
03/28/07 05:49 PM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
I'm the one who sent Steve the wood. It is furniture grade american white oak. Before offering it I checked with my supplier and they assured me that it has not been chemically treated in any way. It is a concern for woodworkers since no dust mask or dust conrol system is perfect and the fine particles are in the air when we wook with it.
Mike T
03/28/07 09:41 PM  
Re: A toast ... to oak
I have some toasted American oak chair legs stuck in the tops of a couple carboys of sour beer. The idea was stolen from Raj Apte, and they have only been going for 8 months, so no real results yet. I toasted the legs over the gas flame of my turkey fryer, then boiled them in a few changes of water to get the harsh oaky flavor out. When I was ready to use them I threw them in the oven for awhile wrapped in foil to sanitize.

If the oak is already cubed I think that the oven is your only real option, I have used a toarch on the StaVin cubes for a Bourbon Barrel char, but I think it would be tough to get a medium toast.

Picture of the legs in action.

h t t p : //bp2.blogger.com/_7Ue6KBH0xVw/RcK1qu98VDI/AAAAAAAAAAk/Vqqbl6kdwFo/s1600-h/All+together.jpg

My write up on the process and thoughts on an improved system.

h t t p : //madfermentationist.blogspot.com/2007/02/8-homebrew-barrel.html

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