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Old 06-11-2012, 11:01 AM   #21
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Just out of curiosity? How to you sanitise a wooden barrel?

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Old 06-11-2012, 06:27 PM   #22
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From what I have read, sanitation is the same as if you were using wood chips. An acid based added to water. The steps of keeping the oak barrel water tight seems a bit of a pain though. I have never used barrels my self, though I do hope to at some point.

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:56 PM   #23
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I don't think you can really "sanitize" a barrel. Typically winemakers will burn small sulfur sticks in them which will prevent them from getting infected but once a barrel is infected, I don't think there is any way to get it un-infected. Star-san will only soak so far into the wood but won't soak in as far as the infection does.

A new barrel, simply from being charred will be santized and if they are kept sealed up, they'll stay that way for a fair amount of time but you have to maintain it, like I was saying above, by either a sulfur stick or maybe keeping something like bourbon or other alchohol in it.

Keeping it water tight isn't a pain at all. You put liquid in it while keeping a some sort of tray or something underneath to catch the drips. It'll leak a bir for a short period of time but as soon as the wood gets wet, it'll start to expand and tighted up to the point it is water-tight.

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Old 06-12-2012, 02:27 PM   #24
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I've read a lot of things where folks fill it with 180 degree water to kill off anything at least on the surface.

As to water tightness, Cape is right, it's all about the moisture content in the wood. If the wood is wet, it's swollen and therefore it's a tight seal. If it dries out (which you're not supposed to let happen, but evidently you can correct it if you get one dry by re-filling it with water) the gaps form and it's leaky.

I was lucky, this batch was decommissioned and drain of whiskey on the 28th or 29th of May, so it hadn't dried out. I just filled it with 5 gallons of distilled water and some Jack.

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Old 06-12-2012, 02:56 PM   #25
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Revvy, cool score on the dolly, good idea!
I've got a barrel on order and have a couple questions for you or anyone else out there:
1. What do you use to cover the hole - the included bung, or should you use an airlock incase the beer still ferments a bit?
2. How long for aging? I read somewhere that the small barrels impart a lot more oakyness due to the larger surface area compared to the liquid amount. One article said 1 month in a 5 gal barrel is about the same as a year in a 55. ???

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Old 06-12-2012, 03:04 PM   #26
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I think the "on the surface" is the issue... and just to be clear, if you have a barrel that has been taken care of properly and hasn't shown any real evidence of infection, absolutely... I think the hot water, perhaps a bit of star-san (although I would never put star-san in a barrel) or some liquor (what I normally do) would definitely work to keep it clean.

I think once a barrel is really funky though... I am pretty skeptical that you can re-claim it.

I have three 59 gallon french oak barrels in my basement I ferment with (one for a lambic and two for a RR Consecration clone) and those barrels are chock full o' bugs. I don't see anyone getting those bugs out of the barrels in any way. Once they're buggified, I really doubt they can then be used for any non-sours.

Then... all of that said... if a barrel is emptied and left with gunk in it just out to the elements, it'll go moldy and really nasty... and again, I'm really skeptical you could ever bring that barrel back to be used for anything. I have a 59 gallon bourbon barrel in my garage I just never got to use before it went way off... and I would never try to do anything with that barrel other than maybe chopping it up and using the chips in my smoker.

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Old 06-12-2012, 03:10 PM   #27
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1. What do you use to cover the hole - the included bung, or should you use an airlock incase the beer still ferments a bit?
I would def use an airlock and stopper. Not all bung holes are the same size (that's a funny sentence) but a sizes 10-11 rubber stoppers usually fit the larger barrels.

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2. How long for aging? I read somewhere that the small barrels impart a lot more oakyness due to the larger surface area compared to the liquid amount. One article said 1 month in a 5 gal barrel is about the same as a year in a 55. ???
Depends on the beer and what you're really trying to acheive. I think the "1 month = 1 year" peice you saw has to do with oxygen absorbtion. The larger surface area to volume ratio will allow for dramatically more oxygen to leach through the wood and effect the beer (usually in good ways) but the "oakyness" will typically be driven by the level of char on the barrel and the underlying beer.

I'm not sure there is a solid rule of thumb other than simply trying tiny samples of the beer from time to time and seeing where it is at.
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:42 PM   #28
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Seasoning....I think the barrel is probably an early birthday present to myself. That and the Kegorator I'm building.
Hold on. Are you saying you might be converting to kegging soon??
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:24 PM   #29
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How should these barrels be stored after use?

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Old 07-03-2012, 08:26 PM   #30
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How should these barrels be stored after use?
With distilled (or water you brought up to 180 degrees) in it, a little bourbon doesn't hurt. You never want it to dry out.
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