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A Question of Oaking

My birthday present this year will be a full brew day consisting of a cream ale and an imperial black ipa. I’ve wanted to oak a beer for a while, so I figured an imperial black ipa would be a great candidate. I plan to dry hop with 3.5 oz of hops for a week and then transfer to a keg, tossing the oak cubes(4 oz American Med +) in at that time. I plan to age this in the keg for months. Is there such a thing as too long to age a beer on Oak?

I plan on hitting about 9% abv, and approximately 100+ IBUs.


You’ve got two opposing processes going on. Over time, you’ll get more oak flavor and aroma. You’ll also get less bitterness and hop flavor and aroma. I think you get most of what you will out of oak cubes in 4 months. Hop bitterness drops off by about 50% over six months. Flavor and aroma drop off quicker. I’d put the oak in, taste it every two weeks until you like it, then put in the dry hops and wait another week.

I’ve thrown oak cubes in with a keg before with good results, although never with a beer that was also dry hopped. I think abrown’s idea to add dry hops later is a good one.

Of course anything that can be done can be overdone, but I’ve found that the beer absorbs everything its going to from the oak cubes within a few months, and after that it doesn’t matter if you leave them on the oak for longer. After a certain point you don’t get much more oak character, but it doesn’t hurt anything either. If you do get to stage where you feel like its getting too oakey, you can always transfer to another keg.

Also, on any dry hopped beer, the keg is the ideal place to dry hop. Gives you the freshest possible dry hop aroma.

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