View Full Version : Aging With Oak - Views On These Products?

08-18-2010, 10:43 PM
I started a 1 gallon batch of JAO mead a little over a month ago. No more bubbles and the liquid is clear, so I'll probably rack it in a couple of days time after the GF taste tests it (personally, I just don't have the palate for alcohol beverages). If all goes well with this batch, I'll try for 5 gallons, hopefully ready in time for the Christmas Hols.

I was reading through the Aging & Oaking chapter of "The NewBee Guide to Making Mead" and figured it might be possible to add a little more "complexity" to the flavour of JAO by adding Oak to the aging stage. I am interested in the views of experienced mead makers with reference to OakBOY (http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/oakboy-french-med-plus.html), Oak Infusion Spiral (http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/oak-infusion-spiral-pack-of-2-american-light-toast.html) and Oak Essence (http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/oak-essence-4-oz.html) as listed on this website: http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/wine-equipment/oak-products?order=position&dir=asc.

08-18-2010, 11:10 PM
Welcome to "Gotmead," Frankwm! A little oak will certainly add to a JAO's complexity, but I have to admit that I've only used one of the products you referenced (the spirals). However, the meads that I've tasted that were dosed with liquid oak essence were universally "smoky" with little else added. I do like the spirals, although the speed of extraction requires that you taste regularly to ensure that you don't over-oak. I really prefer Stavin oak beans (sometimes called oak cubes), because the rate of extraction is slower (and thus more controllable) than the spirals, and the degree of oak exposure is easier to manage - you simply use more or less of the cubes. I haven't used the oakBoy sticks, but I imagine that they would work similarly to the cubes.

08-19-2010, 09:39 AM
I have used the oak boy staves and in my experience they extract at a much slower rate than cubes (or spirals).

You mentioned that this is a one gallon batch so I will warn you that the staves are rather long and would not fit into any one gallon container (unless it is very narrow and extremely tall).

The oakboy and the spirals are intended for 5 gallon batchs, so I think you would be better served using cubes for a one gallon batch. Northern Brewer has different varities and toast levels to meet your tastes if you do decide to order from them.

I have not tried them myself but I have heard that the oak chips infuse much to quickly and have a mono-dimensional flavor profile, so I have avoided them myself. Of course YMMV.

Medsen Fey
08-19-2010, 09:52 AM
It is good to see the staves packaged individually. I had not seen that before, and I might want to get some different ones. That's really a great thing for homeys. :)

I've used staves a couple of times now, and I really like the slow infusion. It takes months for them to infuse and so you don't get a big overshoots such as I often find with cubes/spirals (or even more so with chips). If you have the patience to bulk age for a year, the staves are a great option.

I've mostly used cubes and spiral which I find comparable. Chips give a really fast infusion, but that can be okay if you use them in the right way - they work fine during primary fermentation for example.

Chevette Girl
08-19-2010, 02:51 PM
Do you folks ever re-use oak from one batch to the next?

08-19-2010, 06:19 PM
With the cubes, I don't. I usually leave them in for quite a long time (maximizing the extraction from all the levels of toast from the surface to the middle) and when I tried re-use once, I got almost nothing from the cubes that I'd used before. I've not even tried re-using the spirals.

08-19-2010, 10:49 PM
I reused a menagerie of cubes from previous batches in the lambic that I really need to bottle. Oak isn't really in the flavor profile of lambic, and I figured I'd get some funk from the used cubes (maybe?) so it was worth a shot. I plan to reuse the cubes to inoculate another batch, as yeast and bacteria will house themselves in the wood (a generally good reason for not reusing them for clean fermentations).

I've only used cubes so far, and am happy with the results. I do, however, totally ignore the suggested use rates and exposure times and go with a "taste it and see" approach.

Chevette Girl
08-19-2010, 11:36 PM
Akueck, have you ever compared your "taste it and see" times with the recommended exposure times?

Just curious, my default is to follow the directions... the first time... THEN we mess with it...;)

08-20-2010, 12:08 AM
My exposure times are usually shorter than recommended. I've done as little as one week. I am in the "oak as an enhancement" camp, rather than the "oak as a flavor" persuasion, so YMMV.

Chevette Girl
08-20-2010, 12:33 AM
I reused oak chips from my zinfandel ice wine (oak-bomb!) for a blackberry JAO and I think I like the results, two weeks on the zin and it had enough just for a hint after a week in the mead.

08-20-2010, 03:39 AM
Thank you for the welcome and many thanks for all the informative replies.

I will probably settle for experimenting with the cubes and possibly the spirals if a quicker oak infusion is needed. The length of the spirals shouldn't be a problem, since they can be cut/snapped to length.

Kudos on a great site. I'm certainly glad I stumbled upon it, even though my original web search was for info on grapevines!

08-20-2010, 02:12 PM
Good question on the resuing oak cubes. I plan on giving it a shot soon. I have two batches of cider. I plan on oak being featured in the first one and I'll be adding some mulled spices to the second. Any added complexity in the mulled cider is welcome, even if it isn't very strong.

08-20-2010, 02:17 PM
I generally just go with a lower amount of oak than I guess will be needed and then just put it in and forget about it for 2-4-5 whatever months. Then if it needs more I give it more. I only have one batch that was over-oaked and it's young so I expect it to mellow (white pyment, I seriously doubt I could over-oak my dark red meads without trying really hard to do so).