I have a Flanders Brown ready to be kegged for aging, and I'm going at add some oak cubes for the flavor and oxygen and bugs. I've heard it's a good idea to boil the cubes first, but I feel like that will kill off the Brettanomyces that naturally live in them. Is this a valid worry? Does it even matter since I used a Wyeast strain that has all sorts of lambic bugs to begin with (including the beloved Bretts)?

2 Answers 2


I think relying on the supposed wild bugs in the wood naturally is generally a bad way to go. You've already done it "right" by pitching an appropriate brewing Brett strain you got from wyeast. So go ahead and steam your oak cubes first. You want to give the bugs you put in there on purpose the best chance at being the predominant character in the final beer.

Don't over boil your cubes, you'll just pull out too much of the wood characteristics that you want. I bring water to ~180F and let the cubes sit in there for a bit, then put them in.

  • 1
    You think about 10-15 min in 180F water would be enough to nuke the bugs in the center of the cubes? I guess we're pasteurizing at these temps, but I imagine it takes a bit for the heat to penetrate into the center of the cubes. Chips or spirals would take much less time to get up to that temp, I imagine.
    – GHP
    May 9, 2011 at 13:39
  • I boiled them for 6 mins. Oh well.
    – PMV
    May 9, 2011 at 15:59
  • I was thinking along the same lines as Graham. It might be a good idea to break them up into smaller pieces first. Also, to put them in an already fully heated pot, instead of putting it into a cold pot and bringing it up to temperature
    – Jerry C.
    May 9, 2011 at 18:26

Another option would be to put the wood into a steamer and kill any wild yeasts/bacteria/molds using steam. No yeast naturally lives in wood unless the wood has been used previously for brewing/cidermaking/winemaking. All you need to worry about is the surface nasties.

If you don't have a steamer, you can simply put a colander over a pot with a small amount of boiling water in it, and put your wood chips/spirals in that.

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