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Old 10-16-2012, 10:20 PM   #1
harrymanback92
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Default Just got a wine barrel-What crazy **** can I do?

So I got a 15gallon wine barrel from a winemaker. He's used it for 4 years, with several batches of Syrah. He told me he had purchased the barrel while he and his wife took a 4 month trip to Burgundy, France, where they bought it from a small, small vineyard.

It's French Oak. From what I understand, he bought it used. I want to get as much of those wine flavors as I can.

So. I'm planning on brewing up 15 gallons (which will be a bit of work, considering I'm set up for 5gal but no biggie). What should I brew?

To me, the obvious choice was a Flemish Red Ale. But I'm not to into sours. It would be perfect though, and maybe I'll develop a taste.

My second choice was to attempt something similar to Cali-Belique by Stone. Which is Stone's IPA, fermented with Belgian Yeast, aged in red wine barrels. Never had it, but it seems totally up my alley. I would take this idea, pump up the ABV to 9%, dry it out like a trippel, hopped to about 45-55IBU and age for about 3 months.

My third thought was a Belgian Dubbel. To me, the thought of Special B, dark belgian sugar, with Syrah notes seems like a really good combination. This would be about 10-11% ABV, very low IBU, and I like the idea of doing it fairly traditionally; pilsner malt, vienna malt, dark candi sugar. I would add some Special B to get some plum notes.

What do you all think?

I also have some questions about barrel maintence:
He gave me a solution of (I think) potassium metasulfite(sp?) and told me to add it and fill the barrel with water for storage. I understand that this will take out some flavor from the barrel, so I'm going to brew ASAP.

I'm wondering, would it make sense for me to add a case of wine to the barrel, to reintroduce wine flavors, turning every 12 hours, and letting it age in that for a week or two. I would then dump the wine, swell it with water, and rack the fermented beer into the barrel. The case of wine would be $25 cab. So, I wouldn't be put out to much. I got this idea from hearing people talk about adding a 1/5th of Bourbon to their bourbon barrels.

I'm also wondering, could I just ferment the 15 gallons in the barrel, age it in the barrel(primary) rack out and bottle?

I also saw one guy recommend parafin wax on the outside, is this necessary?

I have so many questions about what I can do with this barrel. I don't even know where to post this.

Any help would be great!

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:50 PM   #2
markm2151
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Sounds like a great experiment! I like your second choice, the IPA, but I love IPA so I'll always choose that. The barrel needs to stay wet, so for storage purposes, use the solution he gave you and leave it in the barrel when not in use. Yes, you can ferment inside the barrel, however, you'll want to rack it once after fermentation is over to get the lees out of the bottom of the barrel, you don't want to leave your beer on that stuff. Additionally, the barrel probably wont give you any oak flavors. A 4 year old barrel that has been housing reds that entire time has pretty much given all the oak flavoring it ever will, meaning the barrel has become flavor neutral. Meaning, any flavoring you get will be from whatever wine is left in the fibers of the barrel itself. You can do your wine idea and roll is around, but then you might have too much wine flavoring. Going to be some trial and error on this one. If I were you, I clean out the barrel doing a full sanitation rinse. Submerse in water for a few days to swell the barrel and then brew your IPA normally and age in the barrel. If you dont get the flavoring you desire, on the next batch use a case of cab rolled around before aging the wine.

Just my .02

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:54 PM   #3
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I had a Mikeller barley wine that was aged in a cab barrel, not much oak flavor but the cab came through quite nicely. One of my favorite beers to date.

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:55 PM   #4
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Not that into Flemish Reds and want to make it anyway? You sir, know how to make friends!

And I'm no math whiz, but an 11% double sounds more like a quad to me. Also sounds like the best of the three ides to take on the wine flavor and give you a more neutral barrel for your next project.

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Old 10-16-2012, 11:38 PM   #5
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@TNgabe: Haha. True that my friend

Yeah, it probably is more of a quad, honestly I'm not terribly familiar with ALL the Belgian styles, just the basics.

If I wanted a bit of oak flavor, would you recommend adding oak cubes? I'm currently trying this in a Bourbon Porter I'm making and so far the flavors are turning out very nice. If I added some oak cubes to the barrel, while the beer's inside, should I stick to French oak? American Oak? A blend of oaks?

I guess, to anyone who's had a beer aged in wine barrels or blended with wine, do YOU think that strong hop flavors blend well with the wine flavors? I'm not talking about like an Imperial IPA, but probably in the 45-65 IBU range.

My gut tells me the dubbel (correction: quad) would be a better blending of flavors. However, I'm very much an IPA kinda guy. And I can see the flavors working, but the low-hopped, deep carmel flavors seem like it'd blend better.

How important is it that I have a high ABV for aging purposes?

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