For beer aged either in oak barrels or on oak chips/cubes, does the contact with the oak noticeably affect final gravity, and if so, what is the direct cause?

2 Answers 2


Not really. In a discussion of the subject on the AHA forum recently, it was brought up that using barrels will increase the "angel's share"...the beer that evaporates. But it's such a small amount that it's negligible in terms of increasing the alcohol. Using chips or cubes should have no effect whatsoever.

  • +1. Alcohol evaporates more quickly than water. Water won't evaporate through the barrel and leave a higher abv beer behind.
    – JackSmith
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 20:42

Not as long as the wood isn't infested with Brettanomyces, anyway.

  • Even if it was that would be the brett not the wood causing a change in gravity.
    – brewchez
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 15:27
  • 1
    True, but if you saw a significant change in gravity after racking to a barrel, that would be an indication that you have something in the barrel that will eat "unfermentable" sugars. It addresses the "direct cause" portion of his question.
    – baka
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 15:56

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