Using Wood Chips in Your Beer

Learn all about wood chips, cubes, spirals, staves, and barrels when it comes to beer brewing. If you are the type who hunts out the barrel-aged brews at your local beer spot, but aren't sure how to implement wood into your homebrewing, this blog is for you.

Forms of Wood

To start, there are different forms that wood comes in for brewing:

  • Chips: These are the most common and least expensive. Best for short-term aging, but can be used in smaller amounts for long-term aging.
  • Cubes: Best for long-term aging or adding subtle oak notes after short-term aging.
  • Spirals: The most expensive, but best option for oak infusion.
  • Staves: Not very common, but can be used for long-term aging. Less surface area than spirals.
  • Barrels: The least common for homebrewers.

Types of Wood Toast

Oak products will come in a variety of "toasts." You will want to select the toast according to the notes you mean to add to your beer:

  • Untoasted: For gentle oaking without any burnt flavors.
  • Light Toast: Notes of coconut and woody tannins.
  • Medium Toast: Vanilla and butterscotch notes.
  • Heavy Toast: Smoky notes with some burnt wood flavors.

Origin of the Oak

The oak's origin will also play a role in the aroma and flavor it brings to the base beer. Oak comes from 3 major regions:

Finally, oak can be soaked in wine, whiskey, rum, tequila, gin, whatever is your taste. Typically, soaking the oak for at least a few weeks is best. Be sure to soak it in an airtight container so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate. Add only enough booze as is needed to cover the wood. As always, EXPERIMENT! Our kits are perfect for early experimentation since they brew such small batches.