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Thread: Wood management

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    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.

  2. #22

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    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
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #23

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    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!
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  4. #24

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    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.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #25

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    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
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. #26
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    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.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dadux View Post
    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.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. #28
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    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.
    Last edited by caduseus; 02-19-2017 at 11:53 AM.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    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!

  10. #30

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    Just knowing a few people, at least, read my stuff makes all the effort worth it.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    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...

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dadux View Post
    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.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    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?

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by tibek View Post
    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
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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