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Old 07-07-2012, 10:31 PM   #11
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I would NOT use that barrel. I used a small 5 gallon barrel that sat empty for a couple years just like the one you are thinking of using. I swelled it, and it was water tight. I built a steamer and steam cleaned the barrel. I thought it would be OK to use, but I recently tasted the beer inside and it is way too acetic after just ~4 months. I wouldn't trust any barrel that has sat empty that long. It may hold water, but I don't believe that it sufficiently blocks O2 permeation. The fact your barrel smelled of vinegar means that acetobacter is rampant inside. Whatever you put in there now will almost certainly turn to vinegar.

You are going to be brewing 60 gallons, and waiting at least a year to have a finished product. It just doesnt make sense to start with such a risky factor that would ruin all that work.

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Old 07-09-2012, 04:29 AM   #12
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It sounds like a rain barrel to me. I wouldn't waste time and beer on it.

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Old 07-09-2012, 04:51 AM   #13
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Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.

So let's say I really, really wanted to try to use these barrels, which I do. What other some other extreme measures I could take to try to sanitize them? I've high pressure rinsed with warm water and have sulphur-sticked them. They are holding water without problem. I've heard/read about using caustic soda as a next step. Has anyone gone down that path? I know commercial operations use sharpened chains to flail the inside, but I don't really have means to do that. I also have a couple pounds of sodium metabisulphate and potassium sorbate as well to do something similar to the sulphur sticks if that's another choice.

What about checking it frequently and then drawing all the liquid from the barrel when it's soured enough - instead of using it as a solera?

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Old 07-09-2012, 05:09 AM   #14
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I would ask myself this simple question: How much is a new used barrel vs. the amount of work to put into your barrel and the potential for a completely messed up batch of beer? When I picked out my barrel, I spent an afternoon smelling freshly emptied barrels and picked the one I wanted. It was a really fun day.

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Old 07-09-2012, 01:08 PM   #15
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The problem with bugs is they live deep in the wood...not just the surface. They live far enough in that chemicals won't reach them. Used barrels are usually reasonable. You are going to have alot of money in ingredients. Do you want to screw all that work up over a hundred dollar barrel?

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Old 07-09-2012, 01:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillacandy View Post
Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.

So let's say I really, really wanted to try to use these barrels, which I do. What other some other extreme measures I could take to try to sanitize them? I've high pressure rinsed with warm water and have sulphur-sticked them. They are holding water without problem. I've heard/read about using caustic soda as a next step. Has anyone gone down that path? I know commercial operations use sharpened chains to flail the inside, but I don't really have means to do that. I also have a couple pounds of sodium metabisulphate and potassium sorbate as well to do something similar to the sulphur sticks if that's another choice.

What about checking it frequently and then drawing all the liquid from the barrel when it's soured enough - instead of using it as a solera?
Stay away from running caustic because you will strip the flavors from the wood. I would suggest storing them with citric acid AND metabisulfite until use for a minimum of a week or two. Use around 1lb of citric and 1/2 of metabisulfite. Drain completely before use but do not rinse....

If you decide to use caustic, stay under 1% concentration but really without any type of mechanical action through some sort of sprayer or high preassure jetter- this method isn't going to do squat.

If the barrel is heavily contaminated with acetobacter, the only way to try to insure you have a clean barrel is to take a swab and culture it or place the swab in a small amount of sterile wort and see if there is any activity. If the wort ferments into vinegar then you know not to use the barrel...
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:01 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by scinerd3000 View Post
If the barrel is heavily contaminated with acetobacter, the only way to try to insure you have a clean barrel is to take a swab and culture it or place the swab in a small amount of sterile wort and see if there is any activity. If the wort ferments into vinegar then you know not to use the barrel...
I really like the sound of this.

Thanks again for the replies everyone. I really appreciate the input. You guys/gals have kept me from doing stupid things more times than I can count!
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:05 AM   #18
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To culture vinegar don't you have to have alcohol? Vinegar bugs "ferment" the alcohol. If you put it in wort it probably won't do anything. Pop open a beer, infect the beer and put a foil cap on it. That would be how I'd test it.

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Old 07-10-2012, 12:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by levifunk View Post
I would NOT use that barrel. I used a small 5 gallon barrel that sat empty for a couple years just like the one you are thinking of using. I swelled it, and it was water tight. I built a steamer and steam cleaned the barrel. I thought it would be OK to use, but I recently tasted the beer inside and it is way too acetic after just ~4 months. I wouldn't trust any barrel that has sat empty that long. It may hold water, but I don't believe that it sufficiently blocks O2 permeation. The fact your barrel smelled of vinegar means that acetobacter is rampant inside. Whatever you put in there now will almost certainly turn to vinegar.

You are going to be brewing 60 gallons, and waiting at least a year to have a finished product. It just doesnt make sense to start with such a risky factor that would ruin all that work.
I'm not a barrel expert, but from what I've read those small 5 gal barrels normally have pretty thin staves on them which allow a lot of O2 to permeate through the wood - this could be the cause of your acetic problem after 4 months. 60 gal barrels should have thicker staves and there is less overall exposure to the wood which will reduce the O2 levels in the barrel.

Not saying the OP's old barrel is OK to use, I don't know. But you can't really compare the performance of a 5 gal barrel to a 60 gallon barrel.
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:03 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bribo179 View Post
To culture vinegar don't you have to have alcohol? Vinegar bugs "ferment" the alcohol. If you put it in wort it probably won't do anything. Pop open a beer, infect the beer and put a foil cap on it. That would be how I'd test it.
You are correct, I mispoke. They do take ethanol to make vinegar so it would have to be either a beer or some wort with ethanol added (such as from vodka etc). Wort agar is fairly simple to make for culturing purposes and Universal Beer Agar UBA is what you would need to make...essentially wort agar with some ethanol added. Midwest has it for sale pretty cheap..
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/universal-beer-agar.html

Sorry for the confusion- I hope this helps.
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