View Full Version : Oak Chips

11-23-2004, 12:10 AM
Greetings again folks.

Am on my way to the brew supply house to make a 5 gallon batch of Joe's "Quick Grape Mead (made with white grape and Raspberry concentrate) and am going to add some oak chips to give it a barrel aged flavor.
How much would you folks use and at what point would you add???


11-23-2004, 12:36 AM
If you don't mind me adding a question to this, would you toast the chips in the oven?

11-23-2004, 01:02 AM
You can buy the chips toasted already at your LHBS. The chips are manufactured by Stavin http://www.stavin.com.

Bear in mind that if you are going to add oak to your "quick" mead recipe, it will no longer be a quick mead since the oak takes time to impart the oak complexity and flavor. Usually two months or more.

Toasting oak in your oven is fine, but the fire toasting done by the manufacturer give much better results in my opinion.

Here's some additional information in a couple of previous posts I made.

http://gotmead.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=process;action=display;num=109923790 5;start=6#6

http://gotmead.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=process;action=display;num=109612985 8;start=4#4



David Baldwin
11-23-2004, 03:41 AM
With a supply of red and white oak available, I cut and toast my own oak "sticks".

I cut my sticks to 1/2" x 6". I then toast them over a charcoal fire - usually what's left after I've done some grilling.

Red oak isn't usually used for barrels, so I'm going to do a bit of contrast and comparison. I've only used white oak so far, but it has worked pretty well.

11-23-2004, 05:11 AM
Generally red oak isn't used in barrels because it doesn't lend well to flavoring your wine/mead.


11-23-2004, 05:21 AM
So what I'm hearing is roughly 1 oz for a 5 gallon batch but it will take a few months after putting the chips in the secondary fermenter.
If I doubled that, would I still have my "quick" mead but with some hint of oak??????

David Baldwin
11-23-2004, 08:50 AM

You are the wine guru, but I thought that red oak was too porous to make good barrels and was therefore not used - not so much due to the taste it imparts.

That's just the info I seem to be picking up on coopers and wine barrels.

So am I really way off base in my assumptions?

I'll probably try it anyway - at least once in a 1 gallon batch.

11-23-2004, 09:54 AM
Hi David!

Red oak simply doesn't taste good in wine or mead in my opinion. I'm pretty sure that's why you don't see many oak chips, beans, staves or barrels made from red oak. Ken Schramm even mentions in his book at the bottom of page 73 that red oak will do your mead a disservice. I agree with that because I have used red oak in wine, and did not like the results at all.

As far as the porousness goes, that may be true, but in my experience red oak is denser and heavier than white oak. I have a number of red oak staves (bo and han bo), swords (bo ken) and knives (tanto and bowie style) and they are heavier and tougher than white oak which tends to be rangier and lighter in my experience.

Also, I recommend using the cubes instead of chips. In my posts you'll see that Stavin recommends the same. Better infusion of oak character and complexity.

Adding more oak won't shorten the process. Bottom line is that if you want the flavor you need to be willing to spend the time and do it right. I think that you would be better served by adding cubes and waiting for the two month period as recommended by the manufacturer. I'm finding that by using their recommendations I'm much happier with the way my oaked meads turn out. JMHO.


David Baldwin
11-23-2004, 10:33 PM

Many thanks for the heads up on the red oak. I'll skip it and stick to the white oak I have.

So how dark a toast do you use on your mead? ...well and your wine for that matter.

I really like what oak does for a wine, and my first experiment with oak and my mead seems to be turning out very nice. At first I thought that I'd way overdone the oak, but it has mellowed out very nicely in a surprisngly short amount of time.

11-23-2004, 11:29 PM
I generally start with a medium toast because that gives a very nice oak character up front. You'll have to see which type of oak you prefer French, Hungarian, Croatian (used to be called Yugoslavian but there's no such place anymore) or American. They all impart different flavors and complexities to the mead and wine.

I like to start with medium French, then to Hungarian dark, and then American medium. The character the American Oak gives is very similar to the kind of taste you get when you warm a snifter of Jack Daniels.

Hope that helps. Oh BTW, the Croatian Oak is extremely difficult to find over here any more. Most of the oak was in barrel form, so it's not readily available in the market any longer.