Sourcing cheap oak chips

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Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby MrBoy » Mon Sep 21, 2015 17:10

I was shocked to see that a small bag of toasted oak chips was being sold for something like £5 online.
Other than toasting the chips, are they any different from a piece of oak you might buy from a timberyard for some DIY i.e. could you use off-cuts and toast them yourself (or not even both toasting)?
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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby robwalker » Mon Sep 21, 2015 17:34

You need american or french oak. Toasting isn't neccessary, but have you checked tk maxx or websites for bbq/smoking? Both carry them in larger quantities.
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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby Kyle_T » Mon Sep 21, 2015 18:11

It doesn't have to be American or French at all. Any variety of oak will do if you flavour it. Charring will also change the character.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby robwalker » Mon Sep 21, 2015 19:14

Orly? I heard other varieties are unsuitable somewhere.
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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby Kyle_T » Mon Sep 21, 2015 19:30

We had English oak before we had French or American.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby graysalchemy » Mon Sep 21, 2015 20:57

robwalker wrote:You need american or french oak. Toasting isn't neccessary, but have you checked tk maxx or websites for bbq/smoking? Both carry them in larger quantities.


English and french oak are the same species Quercus robur, though climate in which it was grown may have an effect on the oak.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby graysalchemy » Mon Sep 21, 2015 21:12

I read online that using chips to flavour alcoholic beverages can produce harsh flavours as the end grains are exposed releasing less desirable flavours. It said to use strips or 'dominos' cut from the length like staves which is what is found in barrels.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby MrBoy » Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:58

robwalker wrote:You need american or french oak. Toasting isn't neccessary, but have you checked tk maxx or websites for bbq/smoking? Both carry them in larger quantities.
Worth a look.

I have an off-cut from a solid-top Oak table weighing several kilos and was wondering if I could cube/strand/chip this (obviously after removing any varnish, glue, etc). It's quite a nice chunk of wood and while I've no idea what variety it is, it seems like it could be worth a try.

I suppose I could soak a bit in some ready-made beer as a rough idea what it might do.
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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby Crastney » Tue Sep 22, 2015 13:30

I was in B&Q recently and saw a bag of oak chips made from Jack Daniels no.7 sipping whisky barrels - they're supposed to be for using in a smoker/BBQ, but I got them anyway, and last night I put 30g of chips into a 1 gallon DJ of Elderberry cider, as an experiment.

now I'm lead to believe that oak chips add tannin, and elderberries are also high in tannin already, so this experiment might just be making the thing much more tanninic (?) and take longer to mature and mellow out, however it can't get much worse than it already is!
it's obviously cider, but deep dark red colour, and very harsh mouth feel (and it's been maturing for at least a year, and has had malolactic fermentation going on already). I have another DJ the same which I didn't add oak chips to, which I can use as a control, and I bottled another similar DJ a couple of months ago - we'll see how these turn out.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby MrBoy » Tue Sep 22, 2015 13:45

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby Crastney » Tue Sep 22, 2015 14:49

yep, that's the stuff, reduced to £5 in clearance. at 30g a time, 1kg will last ages!
30g was a guess, based on a thought of a previous post on here... no idea if it's too much, or too little, but we'll see.
I seem to recall it being used in white wines which lack body and flavour, rather than in full bodied reds which are already full of tannins that need mellowing but hey ho.

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Re: Sourcing cheap oak chips

Postby MrBoy » Tue Sep 22, 2015 14:57

30g sounds about what the white-wine kit we got came with, though that was more like sawdust than chips.
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