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petec
05/20/08 01:20 PM  
oak barrel aging flavor progression
To those with barrels.....

How do the flavors change with extended exposure to oak? Have you seen things go from woody@ svereal weeks/months to vanilla and caramels at 6+ moinths or do all the flavors just get stronger including the tanninwood?

I ask since I've oaked a fair amount of beers using oak cubes and tend to only see the woody/drying tannic type flavors evolve.

Or do the vanillas really require some oxygen to pop out?

Oaked beers like Yeti from Great Divide and some from Weyerbacher show that really nice vanilla tone so thats what I'm trying to get to.

cheers petec

BPotts
05/20/08 02:08 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I used 4 oz. of medium toast french oak chips (in an RIS), and while pretty heavy at first, now it's got a real nice velvety vanilla/mocha character after 8 or 9 months... not a barrel but I have not noticed the tannins standing out like that over time.

What kind of oak are you using?

BPotts
05/20/08 02:10 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I should also say i always boil out some of the flavors before adding to the secondary.
petec
05/20/08 02:40 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I use medium toast cubes- both US and francais. Boiled once and water discarded. Added to secondary or keg....

the beers have been styles like IPA and ambers so I'm also wondering whether grain bill or gravity really impacts those vanilla notes also.

I've only let them sit for a couple weeks and only get that woody and drying tannin flavor from the oak. Wondering if it takes longer for the vanillas to emerge.

I'm hoping some of the barrel folks taste some samples at intervals since it easier for them to taste possibly.

thanks. petec

tankdeer
05/20/08 02:47 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I have used american chips (not cubes) a few times and have gotten some nice vanilla out of them. I only use a very small amount since they have so much more surface area. And they have all been higher gravity brews.

Can't comment on the barrel.... yet. A buddy of mine has a line on a used bourbon barrel that we should be getting our hands on soon.

Baums
05/20/08 03:21 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I'd be real surprised if woody flavors somehow turned into nice smooth vanillas and such with time. The first batch in my barrels basically got woodier with time.
petec
05/20/08 04:57 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
From the wine literature, the different compounds come out at different rates (in wine). Just trying to understand how the timing relates to real beer observations...... thanks petec
BPotts
06/08/08 05:53 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
pete, I'm drinking one of the oak chipped RIS's and it's really awesome. Very rich smooth chocolatey & caramel up front, finish is dry, tannic and slightly bitter. Maybe it is the fact that you used the cubes in IPA's and stuff, but I also wonder if you should use MORE cubes because the surface area is less than chips. This beer has aged beautifully, and I definitly know what I have to brew next after I'm done with my saison-a-thon courtesy of Al B. The tannins have subsided but still remain in the after taste, like a sip of 12+ whiskey. Very nice, especially considering it costs 4 bucks for 8 oz. of chips compared to 200 for a barrel you have to treat heavily before it's even suitable for beer.

BTW, I know it's a part of IPA history to use oak, but I've never tasted an oak aged IPA I really enjoyed. I'm a hop purist when it comes to IPA's and feel that the flavors contributed by the two just clash. But that's me.

petec
06/09/08 02:20 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Well, I just brewed up my imperial stout on saturday so your note was welltimed (OG = 1.099) and using a 1056 slurry from a prior american stout. I am planning on oaking it for some time but probably not the 9 months you mention. maybe the next batch.

I'm looking for mocha and vanilla but without that dryness that can develop from the tannins. probably go with maybe 2 oz for a couple weeks or month.

I like RIS in the summertime. especially while BBQing on a cool evening.

cheers petec

BPotts
06/09/08 07:11 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Pete, the beer wasn't wasn't aged on oak that long - it's been in the bottle that long. I think I only aged it on the 4 oz. of oak for two or three weeks. Sorry for not clarifying that. About the tannins - I don't think it's really avoidable, they just need to be aged out. Again the tannins still remained in the beer but had subsided significantly. I didn't mean the tannins were AS strong as whiskey, but the mouthfeel was similar, full flavor upfront with the tannins lingering in the background with the bitterness from the hops. But not overly bitter or tannic by any means. Very well balanced.
BPotts
06/09/08 07:21 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Follow up thought....again I'm thinking maybe you should a try larger quantity than you have in the past, because maybe you're not adding enough to accumulate those flavors, and all your getting is the tannins which ALWAYS shine through....Perhaps it requires a lot of oak to get enough of those vanillans and caramelly compounds to come through, and while the beer may be overly tannic at first, that will fade over time leaving the nice smooth flavors you're looking for. Just my hypothesis...
tripel beam
06/09/08 10:43 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Barrels integrate differently; Amer. vs French (Amer. faster integration) What forest? (Troncais barrels slower compared to Bertrange. Chips and cubes I assume would integrate faster than barrels. Toast level is also a factor. If you're looking for vanilla I'd go with Amer. Med.+

Oak tannin leached from barrel aging, is usually companied with slow oxidation because of the permeability of barrels. Together tannin w/small amounts of O2, polmerize and should soften the drying effect you're noticing. Maybe if you rack once or twice more you could soften up the oak tannin.

What is RIS?

BPotts
06/09/08 11:10 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Russian Imperial Stout. So Tripel, you think the amount of 02 that gets in during bottling and subsequent aging would be enough to create that reaction? That would make sense as I've so far only noticed tannins mellow after storage in the bottle.
tripel beam
06/10/08 02:41 AM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
BPotts_ I would think that could be enough, albeit slow. I would be scared to introduce pure oxygen post-ferment, but depending on the style of beer? Break the rules?(if say you're doing a flanders red w/o a barrel).

I'm getting closer and closer to doing a barrel-aged beer. I said I'd never. I'm still paranoid about what is in the barrels I'd be using.

BPotts
06/10/08 08:39 AM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I meant just the amount of 02 that gets in the bottle naturely when bottling - unless you're counter pressure filling from a keg.. Not necessarily intentionally adding pure 02 to the bottles....

Are you able to get a smaller barrel you could use at home or would you have to fill up a big one?

Cisco
06/10/08 11:48 AM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
My only experience has been with the large 55 gallon used bourbon and brandy barrels. The first use of the barrel tends to pull out the vanilla character and oak. Further uses takes much longer to pull out even the oak character but the vanilla is all but gone. One barrel has been used three times - right now it is a brandy barrel with a brett triple which was fermented in the barrel.
petec
06/10/08 11:59 AM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Good discussion. I wonder why the used barrels lose their vanilla with one usage in beer? Are they only used one time prior for the bourbon and brandy and that single usage extracts most of the vanilla and then the next homebrew usage steals away the remainining vanilla flavors.

Some wineries use a new technique called microoxidation to reduce tannins in big reds. maybe that is the equivilent of what you are talking about BPotts. Only they add it directly and properly metered to fermentors/aging tanks.

petec

tankdeer
06/10/08 12:26 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
pete: by law bourbon must be aged in new, heavy toast barrels every time. that is why there is such a surplus of bourbon barrels circulating through the brewing world.

not sure about brandy though

Cisco
06/10/08 02:04 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
The bourbon barrels also have a longer life span because they are then used a second time to make brandy and then sold as surplus.
tankdeer
06/10/08 02:05 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
So, brandy is aged in used bourbon barrels? I didn't know that.
tripel beam
06/10/08 07:02 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Sorry Potts, I meant that time in bottle seems like it could be enough, but on another note, micro-ox could be an interesting experiment for those using oak alternatives.

Pete/Cisco do you think scraping and re-firing a barrel would work for getting vanilla aromas. I've seen it done. You sharpen a barrel ring to scrape out a thin layer inside, then fire them as even as you can. You might want to consider recooping and toasting yourself if new oak is what you want.

I won't be using a full-sized barrel if I get around to an oak-aged beer in the next few batches. My tentative plan is...Cut a 60gal. wine barrel, then with a puncheon barrel head (larger diameter*100 gal. barrel) fit it into the barrel so that there is only space for 5-15 gallons. Then I'll need to drill a bung hole on top for filling it and throw a sample valve as well on the bottom.

petec
06/12/08 01:05 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
Scraping and refiring a barrel should bring the vanillas back since they come from the toasting process on the wood. Low toast oak has less vanilla than high toast oak.

My original question didn't have to do with barrels but with alternatives like cubes and that I didn't get any vanillas (instead wood tannins) when I used cubes in non-high gravity beers like IPAs, etc.

I was wondering if most experience was with high gravity beers and how the vanilla compounds developed over time or whether they required extensive aging on wood or without to reduce the tannin levels to the point the vanilla becomes more noticeable.

thanks petec

tankdeer
06/12/08 02:08 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
pete, are you toasting your cubes? i've used amaerican chips several times and find that if i toast them in the oven i get a lot of vanilla out of them.
petec
06/13/08 11:36 AM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
The cubes come pretoasted and are single use. I've been using medium toast.

petec

karlh
06/16/08 01:52 PM  
Re: oak barrel aging flavor progression
I recently started out a new barrel with a fairly low gravity oatmeal stout (1.054). The beer sat in the 10 gallon barrel american oak for 2 weeks before kegging, and developed a very nice vanilla flavor. I kept a close eye on the development of the flavor and pulled after 2 weeks because I wanted something that wasn't overly oaked and it turned out great. Given the surface area of a barrel vs. chips or sawdust, I would suspect time would be much greater for cubes. I believe my barrel is a fairly heavy toast (dark brown interior, but not charred).
 
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