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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Advise needed on resealing barrel
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:07 AM   #1
ellijo89
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Default Advise needed on resealing barrel

Two other people and I have a 60 gallon wine barrel that has been filled with flanders red for almost 1.5 years now. We sampled it the other day and decided it is ready to bottle whenever we can find time. Our only concern is that when we did the last tasting we noticed that the top few staves of the barrel are drying out, creating tiny gaps between them. We were about 8 gallons shy of it being filled initially and never topped it off as we planned, plus whatever has evaporated off as well. Our original plan was to bottle part of it and start a solera, but we are concerned now about the dry staves creating a leak when we refill.

So now we are trying to decide what the best action is going forward. So far we have considered still just bottling 30 gallons and refilling it, allowing it to reseal itself, with what we hope is not much of a mess. The second option is to drain and bottle it all, then wash the barrel with boiling water until it reseals, and then just filling it all the way with new wort. My understanding is that even with a boiling water wash it will still have plenty of bugs alive deep in the wood to sour it again when refilled. Last time we did primary in carboys with 1968 and transferred over, most likely we would do the same this time.

Does anyone have experience with this and have advise on what route we should go? Pros and cons for each? Or have other options that we haven't considered?

Thanks!

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Old 04-08-2013, 09:06 PM   #2
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Sealing it with sticky fresh wort sounds like a mess and a mold party invitation.

Boiling water seems unnecessary, but it'll work.

I seal between batches with water and sorbic acid, just bring your water down to a pH4.0 or there about. Your bugs remain happy above ~pH3, but everything else has a hard time in a solution that acidic.

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Old 04-08-2013, 10:24 PM   #3
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Do you know for sure that it leaks or are you just worried it will leak? You can possibly wet it from the outside and help your situation. I have a small 15 gal barrel and though it has small gaps between the staves it is air and water tight. I do suspect though it might be waxed on the inside a bit because when I fill it with hot water I get a waxy film on the water surface in the bung. Then again that could just be a characteristic of a charred barrel that I'm unfamiliar with. I think the same thing happened to a full size bourbon barrel I was trying to prep where I used to work.

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Old 04-08-2013, 11:19 PM   #4
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Both of these seems like good ideas. It is true that we are not sure if it will actually leak, but also don't want to take any chances when we fill it back up. We also have been discussing trying to seal it from the outside. Seems like it should work just the same. And it cant hurt to try that method since at the least it will be a couple weeks tell we bottle/refill so we can at least test that out. What you think, just get a spray bottle and soak it down every few hours?

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Old 04-08-2013, 11:38 PM   #5
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How about a towel? That will hold enough moisture that you don't have to babysit the barrel to make sure it stays wet. Plus a towel will prevent surface evaporation on the staves which would give them the chance to soak up the moisture.

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Old 04-08-2013, 11:48 PM   #6
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That is a great idea! I will definitely give that a try. Thanks for the good advice guys.

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:56 PM   #7
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I have a 25 gallon wine barrel and I didn't want to worry about too much o2 exposure.

I melted a couple blocks of paraffin canning wax a poured over the top, using tape and newspaper to keep it off the rest of the barrel. I saw it somewhere online and it made sense. Might work if the soaking doesn't.

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