Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sanitising Oak Chips

As part of my Coffin Ship Survivor imperial stout, I was planning on adding 50g of oak chips for a week to add a subtle oak flavour to the beer. I learnt my lesson making Oak chips NOT whittle them manually with a knife. The next time I will just use a wood planer to get the shavings off the pieces of oak barrel I have at home. After reading a multitude of guides various forums and websites I decided to steam the oak chips to sanitise them. Soaking them in spirits seems to be one of the more popular methods but I didn't really want any of those flavours in this beer. I might steep them spirits for a future barley wine or something similar but not this brew.

I emptied the oak chips onto a sieve and then sieved them over the sink to get rid of any small pieces that were in the contents. I brought some water to the boil in a pot and put the sieve on top of the pot but not submerged in the water. I used a lid that was slightly smaller than the pot to allow some of the steam out the sides and to cover the oak chips fully. I left them steaming for 30 minutes to ensure that any nasties were annihilated. The kitchen started to smell like a sauna with the smell of the hot, wet wood chips.  

Oak chips added directly to the wort

The initial fermentation of the imperial stout had finished a couple of days ago and it was ready to take the oak chips directly after the steaming. I was considering a hop bag to keep all the oak chips together but I still don't have any means of weighing down hop bags so I just dumped all of them in. Assuming they are still floating in a weeks time I will just siphon underneath them to get the wort into the bottling bucket.

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