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Old 10-24-2007, 10:28 PM   #1
Ruy Lopez
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Default Old Barrels for Large Volume System

My friends and I recently acquired 3 55 gallon food-grade barrels. They were originally used to store juice concentrate. (I'm assuming steel or stainless?) They are in good shape. Our intention is to build a large volume brew system.

Any thoughts on potential health hazards from heating these barrels? My knowledge of metals is minimal, but isn’t lead a component of steel to some quantity? Is that quantity minimal in food-grade metals?

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Old 10-24-2007, 10:33 PM   #2
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No worries with lead - it's not a component of steel.

I doubt you got 3 stainless barrels of that size, but it's possible. Do the magnet test. If a magnet is strongly attracted to the barrel, it's a plain old carbon/mild steel alloy. If there is weak or no attraction, it's possible that you have stainless on your hands.

Here's the real problem - the barrels are probably painted on the outside and coated on the inside. Heating them, especially with a flame source, will burn the paint on the outside (toxic fumes), and likely degrade the coating on the inside. If the coating on the inside makes its way into your beer, you'll have terrible off flavors and possibly some health concerns.

Sorry...I think I just took the wind out of your sails. Post some pictures and do a little research - maybe they'll be useful for something...

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Old 10-24-2007, 11:11 PM   #3
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You're right. The barrels are painted on the outside and coated on the inside. Couldn't this be removed? Sand blasting maybe?

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Old 10-24-2007, 11:55 PM   #4
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It could be removed, but then your barrels will rust (I'm pretty firmly convinced that they're not stainless). I think you're better off using them for grain storage and brewing in something else.

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Old 10-25-2007, 01:59 AM   #5
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You're right. They're not stainless. Magnet sticks easily.

They are in great shape, though. At this point, I'm thinking one could be used to mash (simple infusion, no heat of course) or to ferment.

Hell, we can't be too disappointed. They were free after all.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Old 10-25-2007, 05:09 AM   #6
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how's about a huge mash lauter tun (steam heated) and a matching fermenter? You'd need a team of people to boil all that brew, but it'd last a LONG time! Think how much yeast would settle out, it'd fill a bucket

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Old 10-25-2007, 08:34 AM   #7
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Make one a MLT(single infusion, like the coolers) and one a fermenter, sell the third for scrap to get something that will heat 50gallons of water. Do 50gallons brews!

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