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Thread: Oaking?

  1. Default Oaking?

    So a recipe I'm just starting calls for a bit of oak. I'm wondering at what point and for how long to do so. I'm not a huge fan of oak in wines (I don't mind a little, but the heavily oaked stuff bugs me). I'm assuming I'll feel the same way in meads.

    So I bought these oak spirals at the local homebrew shop. I got the "heavy" types. The package says they are fully extracted after 6 weeks, I'm assuming I want a lot less than that. Also, at what point to add the oak? Probably towards the end?

    Right now I have a must of just honey and water. Once I move it from the primary to the 6 gallon carboy I'll be adding the berries. I'm assuming there is no need to oak before I move it from the 6 gallon to the 5 gallon? Never done this before.



  2. #2


    I would suggest you wait until it,s ˛ld enough that it has cleared pretty well. That way you will have a clearer idea of what it taste like. Maybe even longer if you haven't made enough to know what it will taste like later. Once you add it leave it in until it starts to become noticable. Take it out then and try it for a few days to see how you like it.You can always add more but you can't take it out. I think you will find it leaves lots of goodness even before it becomes "too oaky". The darker the toast the more of the bourbon flavor. Light toast adds many different things that are not like the over oaked things you don't like. There is lots to read here and other places about differnt wood and different toast levels
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. Default

    Many thanks, Squatchy! I'll wait several months until it clears, and then start. Appreciate it! I have a dark/heavy oak, so we'll see what that does...


  4. #4


    If you don't like that profile you shold buy some lighter toast. By the time you will need to get it in your batch you will have lots of time to read how the different species of oak, and the different toast levels will worl out for you.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5


    I've done some oaking on numerous batches, and am experimenting with different types of oak (shapes, varieties, toast levels). I love the spirals because they are easy to manage, easy to insert and remove, and because of the huge amount of end grain exposed, the really fast flavor extraction rate compared with staves or cubes. I have found you get very decent, but not overly strong oak character with two spirals for four weeks in a five gallon batch. After that I go week by week until I get the level needed. After about 8 weeks I will replace with new spirals if more is desired. Diminishing returns after that.

    Darker/heavier toast is my favorite because of the earthy, caramel/toffee, roast coffee and bourbon notes it brings out. Lighter toast tends in my opinion to bring out very winey, "green" character much like you would associate with a chardonnay. Not my favorite. So I generally stick with medium to heavy toast.

    Just recently got some solid oak staves, American and french oak, heavy toast, to do some experimentation. I am expecting extraction to take a bit longer than with the spirals.

    By the way, I also wait until I'm in my bulk aging phase, and most of the clearing has already happened before I begin oaking.

    Oak adds so much depth and complexity, I'm really leaning toward using it in everything I make. I haven't regretted it yet, but there have been some I didn't oak, and wish I would have.

    Anyway, that's my oak diatribe! Cheers!
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