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Old 09-01-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
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I have a wooden 3 gallon keg that I would like to use for Oktoberfest. I would like to carbonate my beer in it but read that that's a bad idea. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

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Old 09-01-2012, 03:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayouchief
I have a wooden 3 gallon keg that I would like to use for Oktoberfest. I would like to carbonate my beer in it but read that that's a bad idea. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?
Is it an actual serving cask, or just a keg?
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Old 09-01-2012, 04:34 PM   #3
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It's a actual oak barrel from www.barrelsonline.com.

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Old 09-01-2012, 04:42 PM   #4
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Wooden barrels are seldom used for serving since they impart a flavor to the beer. They're usually used for aging a beer to get the wood flavor into it. You might want to rethink your plan.

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Old 09-01-2012, 04:45 PM   #5
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Most wooden barrels are used to age beer, and impart an oaky taste to the beer. The only time beers are served out of wooden barrels is when serving cask ales (also known by those cultists in England who go into near religuous fervor about it as "Real Ales") which are not very carbonated and out pushed with air. The beers stale quickly.

I'm not sure a wooden barrel can take the pressure of true bottle conditioning a higher carbed beer.

Here's some info on Real Ales, to get you started.

The think that is used to pull or pump the beer out of the cask is called a beer engine. We have a great DIY beer engine thread here.

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Old 09-01-2012, 04:47 PM   #6
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AFAIK, most cask ales these days are served from SS kegs, but without CO2.

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Old 09-01-2012, 04:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny View Post
AFAIK, most cask ales these days are served from SS kegs, but without CO2.
Yep.
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Old 09-01-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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I can remember back to the late 50's and early 60's when the local distributer did sell beer in wood barrels. The only sizes I can remember were 1/4 keg and smaller. They came with a disposable wooden tap that you had to boil first and then pound into the barrel forcing the bung into the beer and hopefully getting a tight seal before too much brew sprayed all over the place. The barrel was set up with the spigot down and gravity kept it flowing.

From what I've read on the subject they used high pressure steam to clean them and make sure the barrel staves were swelled enough to make a decent seal preventing beer from leaking out. SO2 and other chemicals including a no no (these days) formaldehyde was also used to sanitize them. Lots of wooden barrels in Germany and England are now lined with plastic which makes for easier cleaning and less leakage.

New oak barrels even pre charred barrels used for beer are treated to leach out most of the tannins before they are used. If you have ever stored a couple of tons of split oak (firewood) you wouldn't want that stink in your beer no matter how much you may like the taste of oak chips in it. Any chemicals like soaps or chlorine aren't used because they are absorbed into the wood and are near impssible to get rid of. Percarbonates, alcohol and other easily rinsed products are used. Once a nasty takes hold in the insides of a wooden barrel I imagine it would be tough to really eliminate.

It would be a cool project to try once the barrel was prepared. I think most cask (real) ales are kegged in two ways.

1. The brewer knows (from experience) when the beer is about 1 or 2 points from final fermentation and then kegs it, allowing it to finish and carbonate in the sealed barrel.

2. Probably the way I'd try it is to get it down to the final gravity then prime it to a low volume of CO2.

Today they use SS or lined barrels for the most part. I think Samuel Smith is an exception and still uses unlined wood.

The bung will be holding in the pressure so I wouldn't carbonate to too high a level or you may be in for a surprise.LOL

Good luck with the project. Please post how it progresses.

bosco

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Old 09-01-2012, 04:59 PM   #9
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I have a friend that's from Germany. Each year he host an Oktoberfest party as they would have the festival in Germany, he starts the party off by simulating tapping the traditional wooden keg of Oktoberfest beer. I brewed the beer and wanted this year to be authentic for him as possible, so that's where I am now.

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Old 09-01-2012, 05:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayouchief View Post
I have a friend that's from Germany. Each year he host an Oktoberfest party as they would have the festival in Germany, he starts the party off by simulating tapping the traditional wooden keg of Oktoberfest beer. I brewed the beer and wanted this year to be authentic for him as possible, so that's where I am now.
After seeing the barrel on the website I would;
1. Do a little research on removing the tannins from the NEW barrel.
2. Brew a new batch timing it more to the occassion, unless you want to keep the one you have in the primary or secondary until a week or two before serving.

OMO

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