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Squatchy
01-09-2017, 08:07 PM
So I thought I would put together a piece entitled "wood management"!


Yea, I know. Get your head out of the gutter. lol

It's already a hard enough subject to wrap your hands around. ;) For some, it kind of represents a coming of age.

Ok, enough.

So every so often we hear someone commenting on the fact that they "don't like the taste of oak" I get it. I'm not planning on eating a briquette with dinner tonight either.

But. If we have that attitude it will keep us from exploring the wonderful things that can be had with good "wood management" In wine speak the call it "the barrel component".

Like everything, we can seek to know a little or we can seek to know a lot. To each his own. I won't bore you with what I know. But I thought it would be good to put up some links that I have found very interesting. Some of us like to read while others like to listen. And yet others like to see. So below I have some links to suit your learning styles. I personally like them all or I wouldn't bother to hand them out. So go get some popcorn, grab a glass of your favorite poison pull up a chair and enjoy.

Make sure to comment after you have checked these things out. All of the different pieces are great. The podcast is fabulous. The wood piece is closer to the end. The whole podcast it fantastic and good fun so if you're not in a hurry, listen to it all. Even though it's about beer it can still apply to out mead making. The wood does for sure. The podcast is really nice and the written is by my favorite teacher. Who BTW was also the author of the Morewine piece. I will also give you a link to his site as well. There is tons of good stuff there to help us all grow as well. So here it is.

Keep in mind that just because some of this is about making a barrell. It still applies when we use cubes



Here is a podcast http://yeastwhisperer.com/Photos_Links_and_Info.php The whole thing is great . But if you want to just get the wood go to 2 hours 2 minutes to start at the wood piece.

A youtube video from a many generation cooper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8mI059cekM&t=1863s Notice how they get a little more happy as the video gets deeper in.

And some linear material http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/oakinfopaper09.pdf

And here is a great website for lots of links http://yeastwhisperer.com/Photos_Links_and_Info.php

And lastly this http://www.stavin.com/



There's a lot here but you will be blessed if you invest the time here.

Ryan

James T
01-09-2017, 10:06 PM
This is great! I have a short attention span and therefore appreciate the multiple types of media.

One thing buried in the third link that I learned the hard way is the difference in extraction rate between end grain and long grain. I let a spiral sit in a 5 gallon carboy too long (10 whole days!) because with a previous batch I used an oak strip and it soaked in there a while with low impact. Granted the difference in surface area plays a role, but I didn't even think about the difference in end grain exposure for strips vs. spirals.

MrMooCow
01-09-2017, 10:34 PM
So I thought I would put together a piece entitled "wood management"!

Everyone sing it with me!

~~Oh oh, Wee-ell-Now! Relax don't do it, When you want to go to it; Relax don't do it, When you want to come; Relax don't do it, When you want to come, When you want to come!~~

Squatchy
01-09-2017, 10:48 PM
This is great! I have a short attention span and therefore appreciate the multiple types of media.

One thing buried in the third link that I learned the hard way is the difference in extraction rate between end grain and long grain. I let a spiral sit in a 5 gallon carboy too long (10 whole days!) because with a previous batch I used an oak strip and it soaked in there a while with low impact. Granted the difference in surface area plays a role, but I didn't even think about the difference in end grain exposure for strips vs. spirals.

True dat! This is true indeed. My experience is a slower extraction rate will give you a better cross section of the nuance spectrum. I will go with less wood over a longer period of time every time.

MrMooCow
01-10-2017, 06:24 PM
Hrm..... I don't see a podcast at that first link. What's the name of the podcast?

Squatchy
01-10-2017, 07:14 PM
SORRY GUYS,,, HERE IS THE PODCAST for the oaking segment. It starts at 2;02. The brewing beer with wine yeast in the first half is really good as well and these guys are pretty funny and fun to listen to

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/post1888/

James T
01-10-2017, 09:45 PM
Is there a volume below which you would rather use oak pieces instead of a barrel? Considering space / money / batch size limitations I would realistically only get a ~10 liter barrel.

Is a small barrel worth it? I guess because I wouldn't age anything in there for very long I'd have quick turnover.

Squatchy
01-11-2017, 01:06 AM
Is there a volume below which you would rather use oak pieces instead of a barrel? Considering space / money / batch size limitations I would realistically only get a ~10 liter barrel.

Is a small barrel worth it? I guess because I wouldn't age anything in there for very long I'd have quick turnover.

Yes you are correct. With smaller barrels you have so much contact with the barrel your surface are ratio is skewed. I would say that unless you can make a lot of mead, chips, or staves and spirals are the way to go. My 15 gallon barrel is so small I will need to refill it every 2 months, or even faster when new.. If you can't keep them full then they turn into a good bit of work maintenance. Barrels can be so expensive that some people actually continue to use barrels even after they are more or less spent. And then they buy,,, http://www.stavin.com/tank-systems/stave-fans or this,,, http://www.stavin.com/tank-systems/stave-segments and put that in the barrels and age it that way.

Please don't buy chips. Totally worthless. Way to mono dimensional. These are way better,,, http://www.stavin.com/tank-systems/oak-beans or something like this http://www.thebarrelmill.com/#blendSlides

Stasis
01-11-2017, 03:09 PM
I've had some luck with chips but only when I use a mix of medium and heavy toasted french oak. French ftw for me. Just one type is too mono dimensional. I've also found that chips vary wildly in quality because the second time I bought medium oak it tasted even more mono dimensional than usual, so the brand is important. I also oak minimally, mostly just my prickly pear wine. The oak is imperceptible in the finished product but adds that little something you can't quite put your finger on which improves the product. Oak cubes, spirals, or staves are mostly inaccessible to me because I haven't found anyone who sells them in Europe and shipping costs from the U.S are prohibitive. No, don't worry, I'll stick to my kg of oak until I run out. After these bags I'll see what I can do about cubes. Or maybe I'll just contact a local winery and see if I can get my hands on an oak barrel...

caduseus
01-11-2017, 07:19 PM
I've had some luck with chips but only when I use a mix of medium and heavy toasted french oak. French ftw for me. Just one type is too mono dimensional. I've also found that chips vary wildly in quality because the second time I bought medium oak it tasted even more mono dimensional than usual, so the brand is important. I also oak minimally, mostly just my prickly pear wine. The oak is imperceptible in the finished product but adds that little something you can't quite put your finger on which improves the product. Oak cubes, spirals, or staves are mostly inaccessible to me because I haven't found anyone who sells them in Europe and shipping costs from the U.S are prohibitive. No, don't worry, I'll stick to my kg of oak until I run out. After these bags I'll see what I can do about cubes. Or maybe I'll just contact a local winery and see if I can get my hands on an oak barrel...

Have you tried Hungarian?

James T
01-11-2017, 07:32 PM
A local winemaker was telling me about those stave fans, but depending on the dimensions those may be too big for a 5 gallon carboy. I was thinking something smaller like this would work better for my volumes:

http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shop/what-s-new/medium-toast-oak-stick

However, with 60+ wineries in Livermore I should be able to find someone willing to hook me up with some oak in some shape or form.

Stasis
01-11-2017, 08:02 PM
Wow, I just wrote that getting cubes is difficult, but then I checked baldinger again just for the heck of it and I find that they are now stocking oak cubes. They seem quite expensive though, got to check if that's normal.
I tried Hungarian oak and it didn't quite do the trick. As I've said, I use minimal amounts of oak such that it adds something to the wine but does not register as oak when I drink it. I like oak, but tasting it outside a red wine was strange to me. Or perhaps using more oak is problematic because they're chips and not cubes. Hard to say, I haven't experimented with cubes yet.
Another problem is that the french oak I prefer was bought from hop and grape and they only sold french oak. I could not compare different types of oak made by the same company, so quality could have very easily played a factor. In fact, I had some issues with a particular bag of french oak chips.
I did not dare to use American oak because I read that hungarian was half way between french and American. Since I did not like hungarian I was afraid american would be worse for my particular use.
Complex stuff and totally anecdotal
Anyway, point is that perhaps there are particular cases where using oak chips is not *totally* worthless

Stasis
01-11-2017, 08:03 PM
P.s I reserve the right to try cubes one day and take back what was said in these posts :P

Stasis
01-11-2017, 08:07 PM
A local winemaker was telling me about those stave fans, but depending on the dimensions those may be too big for a 5 gallon carboy. I was thinking something smaller like this would work better for my volumes:

http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shop/what-s-new/medium-toast-oak-stick

However, with 60+ wineries in Livermore I should be able to find someone willing to hook me up with some oak in some shape or form.

I thought about stave fans and whether or not cutting them into smaller pieces might work somehow. Only problem would be if the uncharred area where the cut is made results in unbalanced flavors in your mead

HeidrunsGift
01-11-2017, 08:54 PM
I have started to pretty much exclusivity use staves when I oak. As was mentioned below, chips impart way too fast which makes the mead taste like you are biting into a piece of wood. The flavor is way too much, and lasts briefly only in the beginning. (The blackbarrel swan comb wood I find have the same extraction time as chips--way too fast).

I have found cubes are pretty similar to extraction time as staves, and have really liked the way the mead batches turned out with them. So why do I use staves over cubes? Its easier to remove one stave (with a hole in it) then having to rack off a couple ounces of oak cubes.

caduseus
01-11-2017, 09:11 PM
Wow, I just wrote that getting cubes is difficult, but then I checked baldinger again just for the heck of it and I find that they are now stocking oak cubes. They seem quite expensive though, got to check if that's normal.
I tried Hungarian oak and it didn't quite do the trick. As I've said, I use minimal amounts of oak such that it adds something to the wine but does not register as oak when I drink it. I like oak, but tasting it outside a red wine was strange to me. Or perhaps using more oak is problematic because they're chips and not cubes. Hard to say, I haven't experimented with cubes yet.
Another problem is that the french oak I prefer was bought from hop and grape and they only sold french oak. I could not compare different types of oak made by the same company, so quality could have very easily played a factor. In fact, I had some issues with a particular bag of french oak chips.
I did not dare to use American oak because I read that hungarian was half way between french and American. Since I did not like hungarian I was afraid american would be worse for my particular use.
Complex stuff and totally anecdotal
Anyway, point is that perhaps there are particular cases where using oak chips is not *totally* worthless

Actually Hungarian and French oak are the same species just grew in different regions. American oak however is a different species and different regions.
Hungarian oak will taste like French oak but softer however it usually takes longer than French oak.
FYI
Look at denardbrewing website as he did tests comparing the 3.

Squatchy
01-12-2017, 12:52 AM
The info I left up above covers all the stuff you would ever want to know. I'll have to check but I don't think that French and Hungarian are the same. Even if they were, the flavor is different depending on the location they are aged in. Some company's actually harvest wood in Europe and age it in America and send it back across the water, or vise versa. The lichen and miss that grow on the ageing wood makes a big difference in the finished profile. The roots that stuff established to extract what they need to survive makes the wood taste different.

caduseus
01-12-2017, 01:11 AM
The info I left up above covers all the stuff you would ever want to know. I'll have to check but I don't think that French and Hungarian are the same. Even if they were, the flavor is different depending on the location they are aged in. Some company's actually harvest wood in Europe and age it in America and send it back across the water, or vise versa. The lichen and miss that grow on the ageing wood makes a big difference in the finished profile. The roots that stuff established to extract what they need to survive makes the wood taste different.

From wikipedia:
"Besides being derived from different species, a major difference between American and French oak comes from the preparation of the wood."

American Oak= Quercus alba
French/Hungarian Oak= Quercus petraea

The same genus but different species. For example wolves, foxes and domestic dogs all come from the same Genus but different species.

The difference in regions/weather/climate, etc is all that separates Hungarian and French Oak. Nature vs. Nurture argument: same genetics but different nurturing environment. Hence the French and Hungarian oak is much more like each other vs. American Oak.

In addition there is an environmental difference between American and French/Hungarian Oak: The warmer climate in North American causes the oak to grow faster. This in turn affects the flavor (this can demonstrated in the trunk's age rings with differences in diameter in between).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_(wine)

Stasis
01-12-2017, 01:19 PM
Actually Hungarian and French oak are the same species just grew in different regions. American oak however is a different species and different regions.
Hungarian oak will taste like French oak but softer however it usually takes longer than French oak.
FYI
Look at denardbrewing website as he did tests comparing the 3.

Never said anything about species. I was talking all about flavor there.
Lor's experiment means almost nothing to me. He used cubes rather than chips, he used medium toast when I use heavy toast or a mix, he used different quality/brand of oak, he used different extraction rates - I use the minimum amount, his tasting notes would have been impossible with my mead.
Now that we're at it, I can also say the same for the bomm - he might have different prefernces ofr esters, different temps, different feeding habits, different yeast maintenance (degassing, starters, racking..), different taste or ability to judge (even top judges may give wildly different opinions on mead quality, check other yeast experiments). He was the only judge of his experiment and I don't even think they were blind taste tests.. everything is different than what other mazers do. This means that if i were to do a yeast experiment I might very well find a better bomm for me (my name starts with B!) I might even find a yeast which is generally better for most mazers. While Lor is trying to be objective and scientific by not altering variables between test batches, us mazers are changing variables from what he did. This potentially throws everything he found out the window. His experiment would probably set us in the right direction but it is not the best practice for all mazers
No offence to Lor. In fact what I said goes for all experimets. Lor's case might be stronger than others because it so happens that he has tastes and fermentation practices totally differently than mine. My point is, you cannot say someone is 'wrong' (not saying you did) and point him in the direction of a test 1 mazer did. There was a test about the boil vs no boil method and I still do not fully trust it until I try a blind test myself

Squatchy
01-16-2017, 06:36 PM
From wikipedia:
"Besides being derived from different species, a major difference between American and French oak comes from the preparation of the wood."

American Oak= Quercus alba
French/Hungarian Oak= Quercus petraea

The same genus but different species. For example wolves, foxes and domestic dogs all come from the same Genus but different species.

The difference in regions/weather/climate, etc is all that separates Hungarian and French Oak. Nature vs. Nurture argument: same genetics but different nurturing environment. Hence the French and Hungarian oak is much more like each other vs. American Oak.

In addition there is an environmental difference between American and French/Hungarian Oak: The warmer climate in North American causes the oak to grow faster. This in turn affects the flavor (this can demonstrated in the trunk's age rings with differences in diameter in between).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_(wine)

As you might expect. I was able to look around and find some info that supports there are different woods being used in barrels that are different.

on page 44 of this PDF. I have seen multiple times on other cooperage pages different species list as well the grow in Europe that are picked for making barrels. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Mead_Study.pdf

I don't think we are arguing here as we both understand that different species taste different. Different toast levels taste different. And, where they are aged makes a difference as well. Hell. You can take the same piece of lumber and split it in half and just the way one guys gets to medium to compared to another guys way will cause a different affect. I will try to find where one Coopperage did experiments by taking wood from Europe to America to age it there. And return it back to Europe to compare it to the house lumber that was aged there on their site.

HeidrunsGift
02-19-2017, 01:03 AM
Make sure to comment after you have checked these things out. All of the different pieces are great. The podcast is fabulous. The wood piece is closer to the end.

Finally was able to listen through most of the podcast below and read through majority of the products. Awesome find, and lots of good info! As usual, reading/listening info starts bringing up more questions than answers. Having the oak info paper open while listening to the podcast helps a lot, following along what he is talking about. There's so much info, you can really just focus on one area for days. I'm really fascinated with just reading up more on the three different compounds of oak: lipids, lignins, and hemicellulose. Not even so much about the different species quite yet.

So here are some of my comments and questions:

-Amazing how aging a same piece of wood from the same tree in a different spot will have different lichen and bacteria activating different enzymes in the wood, resulting in a different profile of flavor, aromatics, etc.

-What the three components contribute (please chime in if you think I have over-simplied here):
Lipids: aromatics (what we percieve is coconut, wood)
Lignin: Structure (what we perceive is vanilla, smokiness, spices)
Hemicellulose: Sweetness flavors (what we perceive as caramel, butterscotch)

-We know that tannins (ie, tannic phenols) provide structure. According to the podcast, so do lignins which are responsible for vanilla and spice flavors. So I wondered if vanilla or spice compounds are tannins, and a quick google search showed that they are. I would have never have made that connection of a structuring compound to a flavor like vanilla or spicy smoke. Very interesting!

-The hemicellulose cells are compounds that contain sugar that when toasted literally caramelize. This is what provide the caramel and butterscotch sweetness. But they refer to hemicelluse as providing "body."
Question: I thought "body" meant structure (ie, mouth feel or "roundness"). Not a sweetness flavor. Do I have a wrong understanding of the definition of "body" in terms of wine?

Lipid- I assume these are non-tannic phenols. Shea states that American oak has more "non tannic phenols"--ie, aroma-- then the French/Hungarian oak (which provide more "structuring", which I assume means more tannic phenols). This would mean that lipids must be non-tannic phenols, since of the three compounds it is the lipids that are responsible for aromas (coconut, oak, woody aromas).
-I thought it odd that fat/oil/wax would be the compound that provides the aroma. But then I remembered reading that fusel oils (the higher alcohols with, presumably, some small amount of oil/fat components to it) provide up to 50% of the aromatics in wine. So I guess it makes sense that the fusels would provide so much aroma.

-Wished he had gone more into the difference between "deep" and "higher" toast. He said they are not the same, but seemed to indicate that they both mean a toast with a higher temp. So I'm confused.

-Made the connection that all tannins are phenols, but not all phenols are tannins

-Ryan, when I tried your Catspaw Mead I thought that there was a butterscotch element to the honey. After listening to this podcast I am wondering if you used medium plus oak to age the mead, releasing 5-methyl-furfural components into it?

This has really peaked my interest in tannins and phenols, how they are related to the 3 compounds listed above, and what else they contribute to mead (flavors, color, etc). I wished Shea had made more links specifically with the pheonols/tannins to the three compounds in the podcast. Either way, I'll definitely be looking into more details on them and how they can be used to make our meads better.

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 01:35 AM
So each cooper will have a different approach as to how the toast the wood. Some will start with a higher temp than others. And some will use more time to drive the heat deeper into the core of the staves, cubes spirals. Some use wood as the fuel and others use different heat sources. Try yto imagine the difference between a high temp and quick exposure toast to a slower duration and lower temps.

The first may not penetrate as deep into the center/core, leaving a surface that is more toasted but not into the core as much. You might think that this would have a broader spectrum of nuances. Where the second example would be deeper, so a total soak might be more consistent, and more confined in the nuance spectrum.

Yes. I did use some oak in that mead you are referring to.

In a nutshell. Oak will add nose, structure and on the low end coconut and vanilla. One the darker side think of confectioners sugars. From lighter to darker

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 01:36 AM
This might help some.

Oak and Mead

If George Washington made mead, he’d have chopped down an Oak Tree!

Throughout history, humanity has been fermenting just about anything we can get our opposable-thumbed mitts on for everything from the frenetic Dionysian rites in ancient Greece to a Saturday night Toga Party in the OC. Along the way we have used many different types of storage vessels to protect and age our prized meads, beers and wines along with a ubiquitous host of other alcoholic beverages. Somewhere, sometime, we decided to put mead into oak barrels, and since then no one has looked at certain oak trees quite the same.

What makes oak desirable in mead?
Exposing your mead to oak imparts structure, complexity, additional sensory elements and of course new and exciting flavors. While oak adds many different elements to mead and wine (a study published in May, 2005 identified more than 70 volatile aroma and flavor compounds) many of the recognizable aromas and flavors are identified with vanilla, spice, sweet, spicy and “woody” characteristics. Breaking it down a bit we can group oak into its basic aroma and flavor and composition.

CIS and Trans Oak Lactones are characters imparted by the un-toasted oak (yes, even though the wood is toasted on the surface there is still the soft white-oak underbelly lurking below the toast) Trans Oak Lactones impart a woody, earthy almost chocolaty aroma and some flavor characters, while the more intense Cis Oak Lactones impart more of a coconut floral aroma and some small taste. If you’ve ever chopped down an oak tree you’ll recognize these aromas very distinctly.

Furfural and 5-Methylfurfural contribute wood sugars and in turn body. As the oak is seasoned (exposed to air) those natural polymers begin to breakdown into simple sugars. When oak is exposed to higher temperatures (about 300 degrees F) during the process of toasting, more simple sugars are formed. These sugars become caramelized and caramel, butterscotch and mocha like aromas emerge. Smokey, toasty characters develop as the oak passes 420 F.

Vanillin and lignin As lignin is degraded by heat it releases vanillins, which are a group of mead and wine complimentary chemical compounds. Predominately, vanillin (yup, that’s that nice vanilla like flavor) is released during oak lignin breakdown. During the seasoning process, lignin is broken down by the sun, rain, and various microflora. The process of breaking down the lignins is also speeded up by the heat applied during the barrel toasting process. In the wine industry there has been extensive time and research devoted to the scientific analysis of this process in order to impart more and richer flavor attributes.

Eugenol and Isoeugenol are related to both raw oak (eugenol) and the degradation of lignin by heat (isoeugenol). Another reduction of the lignins by heat leads to spicy flavors apparent in the aroma and the flavor. Once toasted the Isoeugenol imparts a clove flavor and aroma.

Guaiacol and 4-Methylguaiacol impart a smoky, charred character as part of the process of the pyrolysis of the lignins in the oak. As the oak is more toasted the smokier, and more charred the flavor becomes.

Cellulose and Hemicellulose are natural polymers, and comprise about half of the total solids in white oak. Cellulose provides the structural integrity of the wood and participates only minimally in the actual influence on the character of the wine during
aging in the barrel. That’s a good thing because you don’t want your chips, cubes, staves, etc. falling apart and dissolving into your mead. Hemicellulose contributes significant vanillin during the breakdown of lignin as described above in the Vanillin and Lignin section. As the wood is heated the action on the hemicellulose forms wood sugars which contribute sweetness and caramelized flavors. As the heat rises and persists toasted flavors are released.

Tannins comprise about 1% of American oak and 8% of French oak. Tannins also are a key player in the aging process. Tannins live in the radial rays of oak trees and are governed by seasoning, stave shaping, toasting times and temperatures (tannins are heat sensitive and undergo cellular lysis when exposed to water.

What kinds of oak can I use in my mead?
There are several species and sub-species of oak that are used in cooperage and oak alternatives around the world, but for those of us in the fermented hooch making world there are four Genus and species generally used for cooperage and oak aging. The species most widely in use are: the American oak, Quercus alba, and three European species, Q. robur, Q. petraea and Q. sessilis (the latter of which is arguably the most sought after oak for aging and cooperage).

For the home mead and wine makers there are generally three types of oak available at many Local Home Brew Stores (LHBS), they are: American, French and Eastern European (mostly Hungarian-ish oak). Because barrels are expensive, and the footprint for storage is considerable, most home mead makers use oak chips, cubes, dominos, and staves.

American oak imparts infuses more quickly and imparts more vanilla, woody, sugary, and toasty characters than it’s European cousins and is used mainly in red wines but is growing in popularity with mead makers because it tends to be less expensive, in-stock at the LHBS, and available in a wider range of toast levels. American oak is harvested from several locations including Missouri, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Eastern European oak (including oak trees from Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, and Ukraine) is more expensive than American oak but less expensive than French oak.
Eastern European oak imparts it’s flavor more slowly than American or French Oak. Hungarian Oak is much less intense than American or French oak because the trees grow more slowly and are smaller, creating fine grain which in turn lends itself to very subtle extraction. The hemicellulose in Eastern European oak breaks down more easily, and imparts a unique array of toasted, vanilla, spicy, woody, sugary and caramel-like flavors.

French oak is more expensive than American and Hungarian oak. It also sports the highest tannin content of the various oak types used for cooperage, chips, cubes, dominos, staves, etc. French oak is more porous than the American and Hungarian types so it presents more types of extracts for mead and wine. Since there are more extractives such as caryophyllene (sweet, woody, spice, clove and dry flavors) and copaene (dry and spicy kind of flavors)
French oak is highly prized for barrels and aging because of the number of complex characters it adds to the wine. It extracts more quickly than most other oak types, and can quickly overpower mead if not monitored closely. French oak is found in several forests including: Nevers, Troncais, Limousin, Allier, Centre, Vosges, Bertrange and Jupilles located mostly in central and eastern France.

So how do I get the wood into the mead?
The most cost effective and practical method for infusing the oak characters into your mead are oak chips and oak cubes. Oak for mead and wine comes in a variety of shapes and sizes for many different fermentation, aging and storage vessels. For the home mead maker oak chips and oak cubes are the most common form available at your friendly neighborhood LHBS. Oak chips and cubes come in a variety of toast levels and are generally comprised of American, French and Hungarian oak. The toast levels generally include, light toast, medium toast, medium plus toast (also called house toast by many retailers) and heavy toast. There are other variations offered by different manufacturers of oak chips and cubes, but for the most part you’ll find one of the toast levels mentioned above.

Stavin, manufacturer of Oak Chips, Cubes, Staves, Mini-Staves, Barrel Replicas, etc. have a lot of mead-makers that use their product (as well as a considerable number of well known wineries that don't fess up to it!) A very popular technique used by mead makers is to add one to two ounces of the cubes in a 5 gallon carboy for a two month period. This way you get maximum extraction of the oak character, along with the integration of the individual oak wood character into the batch.

Layering oak additions in phases is also a common practice in both wine and mead production (that is start with a heavy toast, next a medium toast, next a mix of light and medium toast). Stavin suggested a medium to high toast level for meads because the lower toast levels yield a sweet extraction which is not necessarily complimentary to mead sweet mead. Although for a dry mead it may be a good match. On oak chips: Stavin indicates that because of the lack of uniformity of thickness, size and shape, the oak character is very much less structured and integrated as with oak cubes or as they call them "beans." The extraction of oak flavor from chips is very rapid because of the saturation rate of the wood by the liquid (since the chips are so thin) surrounding it. The effect is a pretty flat “mono-dimensional” character as opposed to the complexity imparted by the cubes.

Contact time on the oak cubes is recommended for two months. For meads, Stavin recommends that generally if you add about an ounce to two ounces in a five gallon carboy and let it go for two months that you’ll get maximum extraction that will add structure and complexity, but not overpower your mead with an oak character. Oak cubes at medium plus toast levels seem to impart a smokier flavor than the chips or the barrel inserts. This is a good thing to be aware of when you use cubes if you don’t want to overpower your mead. Another consideration is that makers of Chardonnay who use oak in their aging process say that if the wood is readily noticeable in the nose, then you’ve already lost your batch for all intent and purpose.

If you’re adding cubes to a wine or mead that has already dropped clear they recommend rinsing the oak cubes off with some warm distilled water to remove the wood dust (sawdust) that is produced by the cubes rubbing together in the packaging. Make sure you use distilled or filtered water that has no chlorine in it so as not to impart any chlorine flavor to your cubes. Boiling or simmering in hot water leeches off the oak characteristics and flavor that add to structure and will leave your end product lacking.

Lastly, what to do with your chips, cubes, etc when you’re done with them? Take those nicely saturated cubes and put them on the barbeque (you might want to keep them moist to maximize the smoke output) with some good meat (ribs, steak, etc) ice down some mead, and smoke baby smoke!

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 01:37 AM
And this

Tannins & Oak Barrel Alternatives
Help With Choosing Oak!
The following are results from research done at Stavin and should only be used to give an approximation of what each of these three varieties of oak can bring to your wine. Each sample was made using oak cubes with a two-month contact time and evaluated with no bottle ageing. Please note that due to the complexities of flavor chemistry these findings may or may not translate to your wine 100%. However, this information should be helpful in finding out which type of oak may the best to start with as you refine your oaking tastes.

French Oak Flavor Summary
All toast levels have a perceived aromatic sweetness and full mouthfeel.
French oak has a fruity, cinnamon/allspice character, along with custard/ crème brûlée, milk chocolate and campfire/roasted coffee notes*. (*Especially at higher toast levels.)
As the toast levels increased the fruity descriptor for the wine changed from fresh to jammy to cooked fruit/raisin in character.


American Oak Flavor Summary
The American oak had aromatic sweetness and a campfire/roasted coffee attribute present in all three toast levels, with Medium Plus and Heavy toast having the highest intensity.
American oak had cooked fruit more than a fresh or jammy quality.
American Oak imparted mouthfeel/fullness, especially in Medium Plus.


Hungarian Oak Flavor Summary
The Hungarian oak at Medium toast displayed a high perceived-vanillin content, with roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and black pepper characters.
Medium Plus and Heavy toast imparted mouthfeel fullness, with only a slight amount of campfire/roasted coffee. Heavy also had pronounced vanillin. At all toast levels, there were unique attributes such as leather and black pepper, not observed in other oak origins.


Some applicable generalizations of toast levels on oak
The lower the toast, the more tannins (“structure”) and lactones (“wood-like” and “coconut”) will be present in each of the oaks.
The higher the toast, the more spice and smoke notes will be present.
The deeper the toast, the more deep the caramel tones will be (moving into butterscotch at medium plus).
Vanilla will increase up through a medium-plus toast and then decrease with a heavy toast and char.
American oak will be more aromatic, but French oak will give more structure (Hungarian will give less than the French but more than the American).
The greater the toast level, the lower the lactones (“wood” and “coconut”) for all three woods.
Medium plus is the most complex of all of the toast levels, and the most popular.

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 01:40 AM
So now you need to ge read my paper on creating balance. Once you do that I can check out because you will know everything I do and I won't be needed here anymore LOL :P

Dadux
02-19-2017, 09:24 AM
Hey Squatchy great info! I read most of that in a few articles but your post about oak on mead is great! Correlates with some stuff i read in some posts from Oskaar
Im gonna give oak a chance with some american medium toast chips (unfortunately I have not found cubes/beans/spirals but if i like it i will search more thoroughly). Will be adding them during fermentation as it seems that is the best use for chips, hope it turns out good.

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 10:56 AM
Hey Squatchy great info! I read most of that in a few articles but your post about oak on mead is great! Correlates with some stuff i read in some posts from Oskaar
Im gonna give oak a chance with some american medium toast chips (unfortunately I have not found cubes/beans/spirals but if i like it i will search more thoroughly). Will be adding them during fermentation as it seems that is the best use for chips, hope it turns out good.

I love oak and use it all the time.

caduseus
02-19-2017, 10:58 AM
http://homedistiller.org/graphics/oak_aromatoast.gif

Here is a graph of how different temps affect taste.
Not sure if it is the same with woods other than oak.

HeidrunsGift
02-19-2017, 04:06 PM
So now you need to ge read my paper on creating balance. Once you do that I can check out because you will know everything I do and I won't be needed here anymore LOL :P

Awesome articles, thanks for posting! I'll be chowing down on the balance paper next weekend for sure!

Squatchy
02-19-2017, 06:10 PM
Just knowing a few people, at least, read my stuff makes all the effort worth it. :)

Dadux
02-28-2017, 01:08 PM
I love oak and use it all the time.

My oak came a few days ago. Sacrificed 200ml 9 months old vanilla mead to see what effects the oak had in it. its been 3 days, and i added too much oak for that little volume but i intended to see what was the changes the mead goes through. The taste is now begining to be overpowering. Its not bad but killed the mead original flavour. However after 24 and 48h it really gave a good flavour you could not really tell it was oak, and rounded the original flavour. Since i liked it i will be using it in a couple of meads i have aging. gonna start with just a little, 6 grams/5l. Will see how it progresses but for now its looking good!
Once again you were right Squatchy...

Squatchy
02-28-2017, 06:33 PM
My oak came a few days ago. Sacrificed 200ml 9 months old vanilla mead to see what effects the oak had in it. its been 3 days, and i added too much oak for that little volume but i intended to see what was the changes the mead goes through. The taste is now begining to be overpowering. Its not bad but killed the mead original flavour. However after 24 and 48h it really gave a good flavour you could not really tell it was oak, and rounded the original flavour. Since i liked it i will be using it in a couple of meads i have aging. gonna start with just a little, 6 grams/5l. Will see how it progresses but for now its looking good!
Once again you were right Squatchy...

So you will find that over time the oak will integrate into the mead and not seem quite as strong as it does early on.

tibek
03-17-2017, 11:31 AM
Here is a podcast http://yeastwhisperer.com/Photos_Links_and_Info.php The whole thing is great . But if you want to just get the wood go to 2 hours 2 minutes to start at the wood piece.


Is it just me or there's no podcast unders this link?

Squatchy
03-17-2017, 03:39 PM
Is it just me or there's no podcast unders this link?


So I screwed up. If you go down a few post below you will find me mention I added the wrong like and hadn't realized it until it was to late to edit

Malcavian
08-02-2017, 09:35 AM
Very informative read thank you

Squatchy
08-02-2017, 10:54 PM
Very informative read thank you

You are quite welcome.

Lumenbeing
08-08-2017, 02:37 PM
That was an AWESOME podcast. I learned a lot of valuable info about yeast strains. Shea Comfort is a great teacher. So glad you clued me into him Squatchy.


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