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 Homebrewers 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.