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Mike T
04/26/07 08:26 AM  
Barrel Aging vs. Barrel Fermentation
I was just reading through the alcohol chapter of food science/history book (On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee). It has a little insert saying that you get a different flavor from having a wine fermented in oak as a result of yeast enzyme action (furfurylthiol a sulfur containing compound with a flavor reminiscent of coffee) in addition to the regular oak/vanilla/tannic flavors you get from aging in a barrel post fermentation.

Has anyone tried adding oak to a primary beer fermentation? If so did you notice any difference between it and simply adding/storing in oak?

04/26/07 09:42 AM  
Re: Barrel Aging vs. Barrel Fermentation
Wow, this is completely new on me. Sounds neat though, and thanks to MarkM I have a good stock of cubed oak. This concept never occurred to me, I think I'll try it with my annual autumn barley wine.
04/27/07 07:27 AM  
Re: Barrel Aging vs. Barrel Fermentation
I haven't done it with beer, but I do have some wines aging that I added 1/4 ounce medium toast oak balls to during primary. In general, I think that if you can taste the oak prominently, you've gone too far, so I didn't add much (I think it was 1 oz during primary). My perception is that the oak character is better rounded in the wines with oak in the primary...maybe analogous to a salsa with both roasted chiles and fresh chiles. I think the mouthfeel is a bit nicer too, although that is entirely subjective.

Just be aware that oak flavors and tannins extract more quickly during primary than during secondary aging, and that extraction occurs more quickly the smaller your pieces of oak are (i.e, One 1-oz chunk will extract more slowly than sixteen 1/16 oz chips). If you are really looking for a strong oak presence, you might even seek out oak powder for primary, which is not uncommon in New World winemaking (think gigantic, punch-you-in-the-face Robert Parker 99-point Napa cabernet type oakiness).

You might also want to put the oak in a bag; taste the beer daily, and when the oak is at the level you want, pull it out, even if primary is not done. That way you can hopefully avoid a beer that tastes like a chair.

04/27/07 10:59 AM  
Re: Barrel Aging vs. Barrel Fermentation
I posted this in another thread but it applies here to. You might consider using oak sprials. Once infected they can be reused.
04/29/07 07:02 AM  
Re: Barrel Aging vs. Barrel Fermentation
I'll have a chance to play with this today, the great and powerful Al gave me a honkin' slurry of his own take on a Roesalare blend. About to go off and make a batch of 'Rodenbruin', I'm going to toss in an ounce of the little oak chunks MarkM cut up for me. Man, sometimes I think I'd be stuck kit brewing without you guys!!
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