Aging your homebrew in an oak barrel can add more dimensions to your beer by imparting complex wood characteristics such as vanilla, cloves, coconut, or caramel, but barrels are not ideal for everyone. You may not want to invest the money in buying a barrel, and there are also issues of space and additional time requirements to maintain the barrel. If barrels aren’t for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t create the same depth of flavors to your beer. Instead of putting the beer in the oak, you can always put the oak in the beer. BYO’s Technical Editor Ashton Lewis walks through a number of oak alternatives available to homebrewers whether you want to add oak chips, oak cubes, powder or liquid extracts.
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