• PATRONS: Did you know we've a chat function for you now? Look to the bottom of the screen, you can chat, set up rooms, talk to each other individually or in groups! Click 'Chat' at the right side of the chat window to open the chat up.
  • Love Gotmead and want to see it grow? Then consider supporting the site and becoming a Patron! If you're logged in, click on your username to the right of the menu to see how as little as $30/year can get you access to the patron areas and the patron Facebook group and to support Gotmead!
  • We now have a Patron-exclusive Facebook group! Patrons my join at The Gotmead Patron Group. You MUST answer the questions, providing your Patron membership, when you request to join so I can verify your Patron membership. If the questions aren't answered, the request will be turned down.

Wood management

African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,198
23
38
Denver
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
 
Last edited:

James T

NewBee
Registered Member
Oct 26, 2016
16
0
0
Livermore
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

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Nov 11, 2008
335
3
0
Woodridge, IL
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,198
23
38
Denver
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.
 

James T

NewBee
Registered Member
Oct 26, 2016
16
0
0
Livermore
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,198
23
38
Denver
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

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 20, 2016
674
0
0
Cincinnati
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?
 

Stasis

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
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

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
P.s I reserve the right to try cubes one day and take back what was said in these posts :p
 

Stasis

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
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

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 1, 2016
217
2
0
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 20, 2016
674
0
0
Cincinnati
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,198
23
38
Denver
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

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 20, 2016
674
0
0
Cincinnati
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)
 
Last edited:

Stasis

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
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
 
Last edited:

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,198
23
38
Denver
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.
 
African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members