A friend recently commented favorably on a single-barrel malt whiskey
that was not only aged in oak barrels, but also was aged on cherry and
apple wood chips. That got me wondering - I've been using oak chips in
some of my brews for several years. Can anyone tell me what different
characteristics using cherry, apple, pecan, or other wood would impart
to a beer? Not for smoking - for adding in the secondary or the keg.
When I've used oak chips, I sometimes steam them in the microwave for
about five minutes, but have been told that soaking them in pure-
grain, vodka, or bourbon would do the same. I actually ruined one
microwave when the water evaporated and the oak chips started
charring. From now on I'll use the alcohol soak method.