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Old 01-01-2009, 07:57 PM   #1
houndhome1
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Default wood casks

I am thinking of investing in a wooden cask to age several brews. I have several questions.

1, would I fill the cask after the second fermention was complete?

2, Does the cask seal tight enough to create carbination?

3, How is the beer dispensed out of the cask?


thanks for the help.



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Old 01-08-2009, 09:35 PM   #2
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Wooden casks are generally used for imparting flavors from the wood and the alcohol that was formerly in the cask (bourbon, wine, etc) and some measure of oxidation and or bugs (lacto, pedio, brett).

The wood of a new cask can overwhelm a beer in days so used casks are generally preferred. This is especially true where the casks are small (5, 10 gallon) because the surface area to beer ratio is high.

55 gallon is a more typical size.

In most cases that I've seen, the beer is transferred out of the cask and carbonated and served in kegs or bottles.



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Old 01-08-2009, 10:18 PM   #3
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Default Aging in oak barrels

My wifes boss (wine mead and maker) offered to hook me up with a 15 gallon oak barrel at his cost when he orders them for the winery. I'm interested since I like oaked beer and I have been using oak cubes already. Could I age 5gallons of beer in a 15 gallon barrel if I pumped co2 in to push out oxygen? Is there any benefit (besides the cool factor)to using a real barrel instead of chips or cubes?

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Old 01-08-2009, 10:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houndhome1 View Post
I am thinking of investing in a wooden cask to age several brews. I have several questions.
Here are my answers!

Quote:
1, would I fill the cask after the second fermention was complete?
Yes and no. I prefer to wait until the beer has dropped bright, so as to have very little sediment in the wood. Depends on how long you wish to age on the wood.

By the by, search "secondary fermentation" on HBT and find out how it isn't fermentation at all.

Quote:
2, Does the cask seal tight enough to create carbination?
Alas, probably not, at least not as much as we're used to seeing in beer. Wood is porous.

Quote:
3, How is the beer dispensed out of the cask?
Usually by gravity tap. Do not attempt to use those wooden taps you sometimes get with wood casks. They're useless and will leak all over the place. Go to UK Brewing Supplies, bringing the British Pub to America. and get one of Paul's plastic taps. While you're at it, get some plastic keystones and shives. You'll need those to seal the tap hole and the bung hole, respectively.

Quote:
thanks for the help.
No problemo.

Two more tips -

1. If you're buying new, soak the cask for weeks before you ever put beer into it. In the first place, it's dry as a bone, and needs to absorb some water so it doesn't leak beer all over. A dry cask will leak whatever liquid you put into it. In the second, water will leach out the tannins and stuff that will have a severely negative impact on your beer if you put it in without a lot of rinsing. Change the water at least a dozen times. Don't overthink the whole oak-flavor thing; it's really, really easy to overdo it and impossible to reduce once it's there (beyond blending).

2. Read up on sanitizing wood. It ain't easy, and it's really, really hard for the amateur.

Cheers!

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Old 01-08-2009, 10:28 PM   #5
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I merged these threads because they are very similar.

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Old 01-08-2009, 10:30 PM   #6
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The BrewingNetwok.com has 2 shows on wood aging.
One is from the Sunday Session and the other is on Brew Strong and both are fairly recent.

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Old 01-08-2009, 10:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyer View Post
My wifes boss (wine mead and maker) offered to hook me up with a 15 gallon oak barrel at his cost when he orders them for the winery. I'm interested since I like oaked beer and I have been using oak cubes already. Could I age 5gallons of beer in a 15 gallon barrel if I pumped co2 in to push out oxygen? Is there any benefit (besides the cool factor)to using a real barrel instead of chips or cubes?
I rarely post here my friend but let me give this a stab!

Sorry, no, you can not... Well, you can actually but it would ruin the barrel so to speak... A barrel relies on the interior wetted surface (at all times) to stay in contact with the beer/whiskey/wine/whatever. Otherwise in no time at all, the unwetted staves will shrink badly, and I mean shrink to the point where you can see daylight through them!

If you want to use a barrel, you should keep it topped off at all times if you can. Some people actually add marbles! Even if topped off, normal evaporation will decrease your volume daily...
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:46 PM   #8
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You may lose up to a pint a week to evaporation, so as Lonnie states you need to keep topping it off over time.

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Old 01-08-2009, 11:50 PM   #9
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It sounds like it's not worth the trouble for 5 gallon batches. I get good results with chips and cubes now. It would be cool to have an oak barrel full of beer aging in the basement though. Maybe someday......

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:45 AM   #10
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You got some real good advice from these fellas, I brew historically with NQ3X, ( hey Bob !) , If you can get a barrel ,go for it, it's a ton of work to cure them. We use 2- 1/2 whiskey barrels to mash and hold brewing liquor in HLT( I keep and store them with water in them at all times), it will take weeks as was mentioned, but don't give up. Get yourself a large tub or 55 gallon plastic barrel and soak your wooden barrel replacing the water often, it will eventually seal back up . Then replace the water many dozens of time as Bob sugguested inside the barrel. Experiment with batches, holding them for shorter than regular times. One you have established your barrel, go big 8% ABV or more and age. It's just not as simple as filling her up and tapping. Good Luck and report back



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