Simulate Aging Beer in Oak Barrel

Question

Do brewers age or ferment beer in whiskey barrels? I thought I’d heard that somewhere.

Where ever it was that I got that idea I’ve decided to give it a try. I don’t really know where to get oak barrels that don’t cost an arm and a leg so I bought some oak chips from the brew store and have about a pound of them soaking in some whiskey.

I was wondering if anyone had any input on the best way to go about it. Should I toss them in the boil, in the primary fermenter, or in a keg, or something else?

What would happen if I poured the pint of whiskey in the boil? Or after the boil so I don’t evaporate all the alcohol?

Answer

I’ve done this a few times and you don’t need anywhere near a pound for five gallons. An ounce is much better. There are two methods I’ve used,

(1) soak them in the whisky/rum for a day to sanitize and then add to the secondary in a stocking or grain bag.

(2) soak in the whisky/rum for a week and then pour the whisky/rum into the secondary through mesh filtering the oak chips out (the spirit will have the flavour in it.)