I've never aged anything in oak before and I'm trying to think through the whole process. This will be a slight challenge because 1 liter is roughly 1/20th the size of a standard homebrew batch. This means that I will have to put the 19/20ths I'm not using in another storage vessel and periodically use that to top up the oak barrel. I've read about oak aging beer a lot and there really is something magical about it. They even call the beer lost due to evaporation the '"angels' share." I don't know about you, but that's poetic to me.
Because this barrel is so small there is going to be a much greater liquid to surface area ratio (higher percentage of the beer touching wood compared to a HUGE barrel). This means that the oak flavors will be imparted much more quickly than if a larger barrel were to be used. Additionally, if the beer sits in the barrel for more than 3 weeks or so, I might have to actually add more yeast to it before bottle conditioning. The complexity doesn't even end there, however. Depending on the flavor profile of the beer coming out of the barrel I might have to actually blend it back in with some of the non-oak-aged beer to get the right balance of flavor lest it be too oaky.
I'll have to find a nice big 750 mL wine bottle or two to bottle this up. Maybe that should be the plan? Blend the 1 liter of aged beer with about .5 liters of non-oak-aged beer and then fill up two 750 mL bottles. Hussey Homebrew Private Reserve anyone?
I've got a slam dunk of a Pumpkin Ale bottled up off the keg and am debating on whom to send them too. I have 5 in reserve because I think I might actually enter it into competition for the National Homebrewers' Conference. Keep an eye on your front porch and maybe you'll be getting some Pumpkin Ale!