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Old 11-09-2012, 07:47 PM   #1
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Default Reusing a whisky barrel

I just got a 5gal oak barrel from Balcones that had single malt whisky in it. I already put a RIS in there to age. My question is how do I get 2, 3, 4, etc beers to age in there without souring them? I brew once a week so I would always have something to immediately put in the barrel once I empty it.

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Old 11-10-2012, 11:51 AM   #2
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Googled it,
1) sulfur strip
2) Barolkleen 3 ounces per gallon hot soak for one hour, rinse well
3) sodiummetabisulfite 2 grams per liter plus citric acid one gram per liter, hot soak for 30 minutes, rinse well
4) rack the beer!
not sure what they mean by sulfur strip hopefully someone else will chime in

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Old 11-10-2012, 11:55 AM   #3
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I can't imagine you could get too many batches through one barrel before to pick up something. I would just keep refilling it once you empty it and not let it sit for too long. Once a batch goes south, start making sours. (warning, no barrel experience here).

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Old 11-10-2012, 03:45 PM   #4
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As long as you are diligent with your sanitation between batches you should be able to age many beers in it although the oak character will decline to the point it adds nothing to the beer.

I would be careful with that sulfur strip and a barrel with a lot of whiskey character.

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Old 11-11-2012, 03:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeahman99 View Post
I just got a 5gal oak barrel from Balcones that had single malt whisky in it. I already put a RIS in there to age. My question is how do I get 2, 3, 4, etc beers to age in there without souring them? I brew once a week so I would always have something to immediately put in the barrel once I empty it.
Don't leave the RIS in there too long, it could get too oakey.

Why would the barrel get sour bugs? You don't get them in your normal beers. Alcohol + hops keeps bugs at bay.
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Old 11-11-2012, 03:47 AM   #6
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Don't leave the RIS in there too long, it could get too oakey.

Why would the barrel get sour bugs? You don't get them in your normal beers. Alcohol + hops keeps bugs at bay.
You can get anything in the barrel.. It's no different than your carboy.

Try brewing and not ever wash your carboys/buckets out, just empty and re fill..

A barrel has pores and breathes a bit, some of the "barrel age" taste is slow oxidization as well.

You can catch stuff pretty easy in a barrel if you aren't careful, and once you do, it's still good.... Start brewing sours and whatnot and go with it.
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Old 11-11-2012, 03:56 AM   #7
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You can get anything in the barrel.. It's no different than your carboy.

Try brewing and not ever wash your carboys/buckets out, just empty and re fill..

A barrel has pores and breathes a bit, some of the "barrel age" taste is slow oxidization as well.

You can catch stuff pretty easy in a barrel if you aren't careful, and once you do, it's still good.... Start brewing sours and whatnot and go with it.
I don't think my question was aimed at you. But .....

I assume he would at least run sanitizer thru it between batches ..."no different than your carboy" to use your words.
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:16 AM   #8
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I don't think my question was aimed at you. But .....

I assume he would at least run sanitizer thru it between batches ..."no different than your carboy" to use your words.
Your "question" seemed a bit lost. Have you used a barrel before?

There are pores in the wood. They will harbor wild bugs if you aren't careful, and can happen to even large breweries that are careful even.

Sanitizer won't penetrate in the pores of the wood, similar to the fact that if you have a plastic fermenter with scratches, it won't always clean it properly and you run the risk of infections.

Soaking a barrel in sanitizer isn't advised, because you'd then have a barrel wetted out with star san.

You could use sodium metabisulphite to treat the barrel after making sure it's wet and sealed, but mostly people do that for wine.

Barrels will just go sour over time, it happens.
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by FATC1TY View Post
Your "question" seemed a bit lost. Have you used a barrel before?

There are pores in the wood. They will harbor wild bugs if you aren't careful, and can happen to even large breweries that are careful even.

Sanitizer won't penetrate in the pores of the wood, similar to the fact that if you have a plastic fermenter with scratches, it won't always clean it properly and you run the risk of infections.

Soaking a barrel in sanitizer isn't advised, because you'd then have a barrel wetted out with star san.

You could use sodium metabisulphite to treat the barrel after making sure it's wet and sealed, but mostly people do that for wine.

Barrels will just go sour over time, it happens.
I'll concede that he can potentially get 'bugs'. But your response gave the impression that he would get an infection/bugs. Yes, he might, but with reasonable sanitation, one would expect not to have a problem. There are wineries around the world using oak barrels without infections. Yes, they occasionally get them, and they toss the barrels, but if it were a real issue, they would be out of business.
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:59 PM   #10
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I have used two different rum barrels multiple times, in between batches I put a bottle of rum in and rotate on a regular basis to keep the entire inside wet. The alcohol from the rum is/should be adequate to kill any bugs. My first barrel was good for 4 batches this way, no issues with souring.

FYI, the first use of a 5 gal barrel is quite potent, more than a week or two could easily overpower the beer so sample after a week and every few days to get the right amount of flavor. The second round in the barrel may take twice as long to get the same flavors. The spirits are typically aged at fairly high concentrations then diluted after aging. The oak and spirit flavors fade with each batch, after 4 batches my first barrel was ready to become a sour barrel and I washed and soaked it multiple times with hot water until the rum flavor was diminished.

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