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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Bourbon Barrel
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:07 PM   #1
mcamarra
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Default Bourbon Barrel

Howdy all! I went on a tour in upstate NY to Tuthilltown Spirits earlier last weekend and was fortunate enough to buy a 3 gallon used bourbon barrel. It was a bit of an impulse decision since I've never used one before but have heard of it being done.

1)How long should I let beer age in there, and how significant of a taste will this impart on my brew.

2)Does anyone know what style(s) would be good to age in this barrel?

3) How many times can I use it? Any advice would be appreciated!

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Old 12-28-2010, 04:01 AM   #2
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I've made a bourbon stout several times but always with oak chips. It is big, black, and delicious. We let it sit on an ounce of chips for 3 months. I imagine the time would be shorter with a barrel, but then again the barrel has been used once. I've heard your get a few uses our of a barrel before you lose the oak flavor.

How much did Tuthilltown charge you for a barrel? I live about an hour and a half away, it may be worth the drive!

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Old 12-28-2010, 04:53 AM   #3
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Using one of the Balcones 5 gallon whiskey barrels I have made 3 batches of a porter/brown recipe (confusion when buying chocolate vs light chocolate malt). The first batch I left in for 2 months before bottling and the bourbon flavour was nearly overpowering at first. It's mellowed nicely after nearly a year. The second batch also stayed in for 2 months and was very nicely balanced once it was carbonated. The third batch is still in the barrel after 5 months (I've been busy, blah blah blah...) but samples haven't been too overpowering yet.

As far as styles go, stouts, porters and browns all take well to a bit of whiskey. After 3-4 batches are run through the barrel, most of the whiskey is going to be wrung out. I'm planning on dedicating my barrel to sours after one more batch. I'm thinking an oak aged IPA for the last "normal" beer since there should be nearly no whiskey character left by then.

Terje

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Old 12-28-2010, 06:35 AM   #4
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I have been looking into picking up a 15 gal barrel from a local distillery and wondering the same thing. So do barrels really loose flavor, I know you can rechar them and me and my father are currently building a still and plan to do whiskey. Wouldnt running a batch of whisky along with recharing effectively re-new the barrel?

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Old 12-28-2010, 05:57 PM   #5
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@Stratotankard Thanks for the insight. Sounds like my barleywine might do well in there for about 2 weeks to a month. Thanks!

@GC89,
Wouldnt running a batch of whisky along with recharing effectively re-new the barrel?
At the stillery they were saying that to technically make bourbon/whiskey the barrell has to be charred and can only be used once. For brewing purposes it sounds like it does lose the flavor. I can't wait to see how much though, I plan on using it again on something darker and gnarlier.

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Old 12-28-2010, 06:12 PM   #6
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An imperial IPA is always nice to oak. I've been using chips though, so I couldn't tell you how long.

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