View Full Version : Hickory

02-27-2007, 06:37 PM
I am brewing a heathermead. I was thinking of making it dry, strong and with a oak finish and a smokey taste.
I have oak and I have hickory essences (water with hickorysmoke taste). Should I use the hickory? Should I put the oak directly in the mead? OR should I burn the oak abit and then put it in the mead?

02-27-2007, 08:47 PM
you should order oak cubes made for brewing purposes. they have been cooked and treated very precisely to create the desired effect on brews. they are relatively cheap and their pretty much guarenteed to work (start small) at least better than a tree from your backyard.

02-27-2007, 10:46 PM
Do you know how the hickory essence was made? I'd be careful with smoke extracts, they can be really strong.

That being said, I have heard of people using smoke extracts in beers as a way to approximate smoked malts. Might work in mead.

02-28-2007, 12:07 PM
I think the hickory is strong, but i'll have to taste as I mix it in.

Is there a way to use real oak? Should I boil it to get rid of any harmful bugs/microbes?

David Baldwin
02-28-2007, 05:13 PM
I would only use real wood.

Oak can be bought in staves, cubes, shavings, and powder forms.
I'd stick to the staves or cubes but others do use shavings or powdered oak.

On hickory, I've never tried it, but again I'd go for the actual wood and try it on a small batch - maybe a gallon.

You shouldn't need to boil oak use the search function to get LOTS of info to read through.


02-28-2007, 07:48 PM
One thing to remember is that not all oak is suitable for wine/mead making. Red oak is not good for wine & mead, for example. If you know what kind of oak you have, check to see that it's ok for mead (I think white oak is what is generally used, though I'm sure there are several sub-species).

Also, oak for mead goes through a toasting process. You could probably approximate this yourself with a low flame.

If this is your first time using oak or other wood, I suggest buying some oak cubes. A few ounces costs only a few dollars, and this way you know it won't automatically screw up your carefully crafted mead. Once you're comfortable using oak, then you can think about using what you have locally.

Check out <a href="http://jaysbrewing.com/catalog/">Jay's</a> or <a href="http://morewinemaking.com/">MoreWine</a> for oak cubes.

02-28-2007, 08:46 PM
Yes, buy the oak for wine making. Don't use what you ahve at home. Don't get the oak saw dust. I have the chips and will get the cubes next time. It doesn't take many chips not very long to oak a gallon of mead.

From what I've read, people that have used essences have regretted it.

03-02-2007, 11:17 AM
Thanks for the help.

I have decided to drop the hickory essence.

The oak I have is white, so I think it will do. The cubes are hard to get and I'd have to order them, but the oak I have is pure and untreated so I think it will be fine.

I still want smokey taste in my mead though. Could I put the oakcubes(of my making) on top of some wet oak shavings and paper in my fireplace?

03-07-2007, 12:40 PM

I would not do what you are proposing.

I would go to the internet and order oak cubes/chips/staves/coils that are specifically for brewing.

If I wanted smoky flavor, I would order smoked or charred cubes.

Alcohol and water are two very aggressive solvents. You have no idea what is in the newspaper, what has been deposited in your fireplace, and what actually is in the wood. These solvents will draw things out of the wood into the liquid/mead that you will then drink and feed to your friends.

I don't know about you, but I am more careful about what I give to my friends than what I feed to myself. And I am damn careful about what I feed to myself.

If you decide to do otherwise, know that you are taking a gamble.

Sorry to be so straight with you, but it looks to me like you are determined to go against the express recommendations of many very experienced brewers that you purchase oak prepared for brewing.


03-07-2007, 08:32 PM
Reading the latest issue of Zymurgy got me to thinking about you wanting a "smoky" mead. Try a braggot based on a smoked porter recipe. The hops are optional for this, and I'd forgo them the first time around.

You might experiment a bit. Take a one gallon mead recipe. Before adding the honey to the water, steep some specialty grains - specifically peated malt or other "smoked" malt grain. 1/4 pound should be plenty for a one gallon batch.

Don't worry - this will not taste like beer. The honey flavors will come thru. Yes, you can oak it, too.

Order the oak cubes when you order the grains.