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Using oak in homebrew

I really enjoy oaked beers, such as white oaked jai Ali IPA, arrogant bastard. Suggestions for a Five gallon batch? American vs French oak?


Flanders red on French oak? Bourbon Barrel Porter on American? Both of those go well with oaking.

I don’t know commercial beer you want to clone, but I can tell you the main difference between French and American oak is that French gives you a smoother oak character. American oak has more harsh tannins. Hungarian oak is somewhere between the two. Then you also need to look at toasting level: light, medium or dark as well as the type of oak to use: staves, spirals, cubes, chips or powder.

Hope this helps to make the decision easier. Oh, and the time the oak is in contact will affect things as well.

Only used oak in a bourbon barrel stout so far which is still in the secondary but I can all ready tell a difference in the aroma. Used 4oz American medium plus oak cubes and soaked them in bourbon for awhile.

If your looking to brew an Oaked Arrogant Bastard look a like I have a buddy that brewed one using this recipe and it turned out great! Been meaning to give it a go myself.


I did a Bourbon Barrel Belgian Quad using a modified Three Philosophers recipe. Used 3 oz. medium toast French oak cubes soaked in two travel bottles of Maker’s Mark for about a month. Dumped it all in after primary fermentation was complete and racked off it after 10 days. Nice bourbon flavor with a hint of oak on the end that doesn’t overpower the beer itself.

From the talk I attended @ NHC, 6 weeks wood-aging is the ‘magic’ number where the ligins in wood actually become phenols (like vanillin, etc.) through hydrolysis (because the beer has a low pH). Also, around 4 weeks exposure, the harsher tannins from the wood start to drop out of solution. I wouldn’t leave it on much longer than 10 weeks, and you can probably get the results you are looking for much sooner.

Keep in mind, the best way to measure how much wood you put in is by SURFACE AREA, not weight. I would start with some medium toast French cubes if you can’t get staves, and mess with it from there. Apparently, staves are the best value. Ie Staves and corkscrews (available online) are better than cubes are better than chips.

I did have great results in a Braggot using medium toast French chips, with about 8 weeks exposure.


Takes six weeks to fully extract cubes. As mentioned, American oak is more brash but mellows more quickly. I think it works well in beer for this reason.

Thanks for your responses, I can’t wait to experiment with oak.

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