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Old 11-24-2009, 04:23 PM   #1
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Default The Solara Method: What to do with your new (used) Whiskey Barrel

My lovely wife gave me a new (used) Whiskey barrel for early Christmas, and I've been toying with ideas. I'd like to do a non-sour experiment to begin with, but was concerned about oxygen uptake over long-term storage. I came across the following info from Vinnie Cilurzo at Russian River Brewing and Raj B. Apte/Jeff Sparrow:

Oxygen Diffusion in Selected Vessels

Type Volume O2 / L / Year
Rodenbach Wooden Tun (Large) 5,280 .53
Rodenbach Wooden Tun (small) 3,168 .86
Wine barrel 79.2 8.5

Glass Carboy w/ silicone stopper 5.3 17
Small Homebrewer’s Barrel 10.6 23
Homebrew bucket 5.3 220

Interesting info, no? Though my barrel is smaller at 55 gallons, it seems that a well-constructed barrel provides better oxygen defense than a glass carboy.

Sooooo, here's where the solara method comes in (minus the funky bugs, that is....) Task 0 is to brew up enough beer to fill the barrel plus a bit for topping off, ferment to completion, then throw it in the barrel to age 6 months to a year. Whenever I want beer, I brew a new batch, ferment to completion, rack 4-5 gallons out of the barrel and replace it with my fresh wort. Once I get the pipeline going, I can have well-aged, tasty oaked beer on hand whenever! The process will yield well-aged beer--haven't done the math, but I'd plan on bottling and labeling each bottle with the average age of the beer.

Sound like a fun project? Anybody see any shortcomings? I'm in KC--if anyone wants to get in to help brew/split the spoils, let me know.


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Old 11-25-2009, 11:24 PM   #2
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I know next to nothing about using oak barrels... In fact, I have no idea what the numbers you posted above even mean! BUT, conceptually, I really like the "continuously oaked" pipeline idea. My only thought on the matter (besides "Awesome!") is that you would probably need to purge the barrel's headspace with CO2 everytime you racked and replenished your 4-5 gallons since there is no additional fermentation taking place in the barrel. And, that doesn't seem like too big of a deal to me.


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Old 11-25-2009, 11:38 PM   #3
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