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Darel Matthews
04/17/07 10:26 PM  
Oak-aging for lambics
It seems most lambics are aged in barrels. I was planning on using oak staves (the sticks) suspended in the carboy for oak. Should I just put them in right from the start? Or add them later on? The staves should be the most resistant for preventing "over-oaking" but still I'm wondering if three years is a bit much.
SteveG
04/18/07 07:41 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Darel, I'm not so sure chips really fulfill the objective here. The barrel is not for taste of course as it is in so many recent American beers, it is to give the bugs a place to hole up - and there are even sugars in the wood that bacteria can use (learning that amazed me!!). I'd love to hear other perspectives here, but I would have to believe the difference in surface area between the inside of a barrel and staves would be significant enough to make the sticks a whole 'nother animal.

This being said, I tossed some chips into my latest ambient ale. But its got me thinking the last few weeks if there was really a point to that. The idea was supposed to be to give the bugs a place to move in, but in a single batch scenario is that really necessary? Doesn't that make more sense if wood is to be reused batch to batch?

Al B
04/18/07 12:19 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Even though I also add oak beans/sticks to my lambics, the primary purpose of traditional barrels where for the bugs (and because thats all they had years ago). Still some of the lambic brewers say oak is oak - question of taste, tannins. It certaintly makes a great deal of sense of reusing the oak batch to batch - no need to buy cultures!

SteveG
04/18/07 01:48 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
But would using chips or staves really work like the inside of a barrel? The surface area difference between the two would have to be huge. Or is the amount of contact area within a barrel overkill for this purpose?
Al B
04/18/07 02:15 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
As far as microbes are concerned, nutrients and time will do just fine with cubes + Staves. I think the difference will be whether the slow diffusion of O2 from a barrel will enhance the bugs or types of bugs in a given barrel. I don't worry about simulating a barrel.

I add the oak for two reasons. For flavor/tannins because I like it, and for possible inoculations later some day.

RonH
04/18/07 09:04 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Where do you stash your inoculated cubes for later use? Ziplock bag in the fridge? Vac seal in the freezer?
SteveG
04/19/07 09:11 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Ron, considering how easy it is to let a lambic sit around my answer would be wait for lambic #1 to be reasonably cooked. Plan to brew another - no hurry of course - make it, rack the first one then put the cubes (or whatever) directly into batch #2. This would be a pain with a normal week in the primary and a couple weeks in secondary beer, but the time scales with lambic make the options for planning really flexible.
RonH
04/19/07 09:17 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Will an ounce or two of reused lambic soaked oak cubes contain enough bugs to fully develop the flavors in a new lambic batch?
SteveG
04/20/07 08:01 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
I'd have to defer to Al here, but my guess would be that since the bugs take a very long time to work and in that time their population can grow, a very small sampling would do the trick. I think the ounce or two would be enough.
Al B
04/20/07 08:08 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
That seems reasonable.

I think for the first go-around, I would feel more comfortable checking periodically on the batch as it ages - is the Pediococcus up + kicking, that sort of thing.

SteveG
04/20/07 09:18 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Al, you means monitoring by smell or taste?
Al B
04/20/07 09:34 AM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Well, taste for acidity or take a pH reading perhaps.

Sometimes my olfactory senses get hit with rubber-stopper smell.

Darel Matthews
04/29/07 10:57 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
What about infecting some oak with a previous batch, then pitch with a saccharomyces yeast and the infected oak? I'd hate to leave a fermentable wort "open" for as long as it takes those bugs to repopulate. The sach yeast would immediately begin alcohol production, giving bugs time to grow, without local nasties taking over.

Thoughts?

Al B
04/30/07 01:02 PM  
Re: Oak-aging for lambics
Sounds good, yes. I would do the same since Sacch. might be died off by the time you get around for inculating a new batch.
 
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