Oaking a Flanders Red

Reads 3104 • Replies 12 • Started Sunday, November 22, 2015 8:50:56 PM CT

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sylvia40
beers 6 º 20:50 Sun 11/22/2015

I’ve brewed a Flander Red and I’m going to add French oak chips, medium toast, probably about 1 oz for a 5 gallon batch. I’ll either soakthe chips in some EzraBrooks or steam sanitize them. My question is...should I add them and leave them in the secondary for months and months, or will it only take a few weeks to give the oak flavor? I’ve never used wood in beer and never made a Flanders Red, so besides what I’ve read (and there is a lot of subjectivity about how much and for how long), is it really just a question of taste? I suppose if I check the beer every few weeks I can pull the chips out of the carboy if it hits a point I think is "oaked" enough. Looking for advise from anyone who’s done this sort of brew before, and what I should expect to experience.

Thanks.

Sour Nube.

 
SamGamgee
beers 2452 º places 182 º 21:15 Sun 11/22/2015

I’m a fan of adding the proper amount of oak and leaving the beer on it for the duration of aging. You get more complexity that way. Use too much for a shorter time, even if you pull it before you get too much flavor, and it tastes like saw-dust. About an ounce of cubes per 5 gallons, boiled prior to adding works for my palate. Chips are tough and I avoid them but you want to use less due to higher surface area. hopefully someone else with more experience can chime in on that.

Do you really want whiskey flavor in a flanders red? If so, soak them. I wouldn’t do it but that’s just my palate.

 
HornyDevil
06:58 Mon 11/23/2015

Originally posted by sylvia40
My question is...should I add them and leave them in the secondary for months and months, or will it only take a few weeks to give the oak flavor?


Originally posted by sylvia40
I suppose if I check the beer every few weeks I can pull the chips out of the carboy if it hits a point I think is "oaked" enough.


You answered your own question.

Originally posted by sylvia40
I’ve never used wood in beer and never made a Flanders Red, so besides what I’ve read (and there is a lot of subjectivity about how much and for how long), is it really just a question of taste?


Here’s the rub, these beers, though aged in oak, aren’t supposed to have oak character. Traditionally, that is. That being said, this is your beer and you can do what you want with it. If you’re hell-bent on using oak, I would advise throwing out the chips and getting yourself an oak spiral. They are FAR more consistent than the chips, though on the pricey side of things, because, as Sam said, they have a HUGE surface area that is hugely variable.

It would be useful to know what your base beer is tasting like before you put the oak in it. It would also be useful to have a recipe and a list of microbes, but that’s not really necessary if you provide a sensory analysis of the beer. It would also be useful to have an age on this beer.

 
HornyDevil
07:03 Mon 11/23/2015

Originally posted by SamGamgee
Do you really want whiskey flavor in a flanders red? If so, soak them. I wouldn’t do it but that’s just my palate.


FWIW, one of the best beers that I’ve ever had (sour or clean, commercial or homebrewed) was a Flanders Red with bourbon that Mike T. (The Mad Fermentationist) sent me. I wouldn’t have thought it would have worked, but it worked out delightfully.

 
b3shine
beers 11297 º places 357 º 07:06 Mon 11/23/2015

I’ve never understood the rationale for soaking oak chips in bourbon, only to hope that the bourbon presence in the chips turns up in your beer. Just put a bit of bourbon in your fermenter with the oak chips; no need to soak them. I’ve done this before and enjoyed the finished product.

 
sylvia40
beers 6 º 07:10 Mon 11/23/2015

I’ll steam the chips and only use 1 oz. I’m oaking because the recipe I’m following was calling for oak. Other than that, I have never used oak and would like to see what affect it has on a beer. It’s still in primary, I brewed it 8 days ago and it’s likely going to be a couple weeks before I transfer it. I’ve seen the oak spirals in my LHBS, but the recipe called for French oak, medium, and they didn’t have the spiral for that. I also missed my SG by a lot, coming in at 1.069, but so be it. Taste is more important to me. So, bottom line, I’ll leave it in the secondary for a few weeks and see how it tastes and go from there. I used WLP 655, so I hope to be able to bottle this by next summer.

 
HornyDevil
08:05 Mon 11/23/2015

Originally posted by sylvia40
I’ll steam the chips and only use 1 oz. I’m oaking because the recipe I’m following was calling for oak. Other than that, I have never used oak and would like to see what affect it has on a beer. It’s still in primary, I brewed it 8 days ago and it’s likely going to be a couple weeks before I transfer it. I’ve seen the oak spirals in my LHBS, but the recipe called for French oak, medium, and they didn’t have the spiral for that. I also missed my SG by a lot, coming in at 1.069, but so be it. Taste is more important to me. So, bottom line, I’ll leave it in the secondary for a few weeks and see how it tastes and go from there. I used WLP 655, so I hope to be able to bottle this by next summer.


So . . . you brewed this beer about a week ago and are already considering secondary flavors? I would advise against this methodology. Let this beer go, on its own, for 6 to 9 months. Taste it then and decide if you want to oak it or not. At that point, you can also decide if you want to oak the whole batch or split it with half on oak and half unoaked.

Again, do you have a link to the recipe that you used?

 
HornyDevil
08:08 Mon 11/23/2015

Originally posted by b3shine
I’ve never understood the rationale for soaking oak chips in bourbon, only to hope that the bourbon presence in the chips turns up in your beer. Just put a bit of bourbon in your fermenter with the oak chips; no need to soak them. I’ve done this before and enjoyed the finished product.


Agreed. If you want bourbon/wine/other spirit character in your beer, just add it. We’re not held to the same constraints that commercial brewers are.

 
sylvia40
beers 6 º 17:36 Wed 11/25/2015

Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by sylvia40
I’ll steam the chips and only use 1 oz. I’m oaking because the recipe I’m following was calling for oak. Other than that, I have never used oak and would like to see what affect it has on a beer. It’s still in primary, I brewed it 8 days ago and it’s likely going to be a couple weeks before I transfer it. I’ve seen the oak spirals in my LHBS, but the recipe called for French oak, medium, and they didn’t have the spiral for that. I also missed my SG by a lot, coming in at 1.069, but so be it. Taste is more important to me. So, bottom line, I’ll leave it in the secondary for a few weeks and see how it tastes and go from there. I used WLP 655, so I hope to be able to bottle this by next summer.


So . . . you brewed this beer about a week ago and are already considering secondary flavors? I would advise against this methodology. Let this beer go, on its own, for 6 to 9 months. Taste it then and decide if you want to oak it or not. At that point, you can also decide if you want to oak the whole batch or split it with half on oak and half unoaked.

Again, do you have a link to the recipe that you used?

This is the recipe.
5 lbs Pilsner
5 lbs Vienna
1/2 lb 120L Crystal
1/2 lb 60 L Crystal
1/2 lb aromatic
1 oz Goldings for 60 min.
WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix 1

Just to complicate things, I put a heat wrap on the carboy because it was 66 degrees and I wanted to warm it up a bit. Well....I forgot about it for 12 hours and it was 86 degrees before I remembered to remove the wrap. It took 36 hours to drop below 70 again. I have no idea if this is a lost cause, but I will leave it alone for a few months and see if it tastes like cat piss or not.

 
hopbomber
beers 88 º places 40 º 02:57 Thu 11/26/2015

Why would you want to sanitize oak chips ?

Maybe pour boiling water over them to remove harshness but...

Anyway, you’ll get oak flavour in about a month although you’ll need way more than 1oz

 
HornyDevil
06:57 Fri 11/27/2015

Originally posted by sylvia40
This is the recipe.
5 lbs Pilsner
5 lbs Vienna
1/2 lb 120L Crystal
1/2 lb 60 L Crystal
1/2 lb aromatic
1 oz Goldings for 60 min.
WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix 1


Grainbill looks good, IMO. The hopping rate, however, is, very probably going to completely inhibit the lactobacillus in that blend. This just means that you probably won’t get any short term sourness, but that’s not a big deal because you still have pediococcus in there to sour over the long haul. Hope you mashed high. Regardless if you did or didn’t, I’d recommend feeding this beer some longer chain sugars somewhere down the line. Maltodextrin might be OK, but starch would be ideal. Reason? Normal Sacch. strains can’t ferment any sugar over 3 units long. Brett can ferment up to 9 and pedio even longer, so giving this beer some additional food somewhere down the line will help it sour.

Originally posted by sylvia40
Just to complicate things, I put a heat wrap on the carboy because it was 66 degrees and I wanted to warm it up a bit. Well....I forgot about it for 12 hours and it was 86 degrees before I remembered to remove the wrap. It took 36 hours to drop below 70 again. I have no idea if this is a lost cause, but I will leave it alone for a few months and see if it tastes like cat piss or not.


Umm . . . yeah . . . that was a dumb.

Was this beer actively fermenting when you put the heat wrap on it? How about afterwards?

Really, at this point all you can do is taste it and find out what you’ve got. Wouldn’t recommend doing that, though, until about 6 months from now.

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