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Old 12-08-2012, 11:07 PM   #1
Dunkelweizenpants
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Default Got my hands on a virgin oak barrel...

And I'm looking for some help on how to best prep and use it...

  • I've heard the oak flavors will be crazy intense from a virgin barrel, thoughts on how long to age a 10% ABV Imperial Stout without over-oaking it?

  • What should I do to prep the barrel before racking the stout to the barrel (fill with water for weeks, etc)?

Thanks!
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:09 PM   #2
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Is it a dry barrel? Never has had anything in it? Definitely swell it with water before anything else. If it doesn't leak you are good there. Some say to burn a sulfur stick/rag in it to sanitize. There is also a solution of citric acid and something else to sanitize.

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Old 12-09-2012, 01:29 AM   #3
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Fill with water a dissolve some camden tablets in it (Sodium Metabilsulphate), and leave it to sit for a couple of weeks.

I've never used one so I may be wrong, but that is where I would start.

I'd suggest only leaving the first beer in there for a few days and see how it is. Each successive beer can sit a little longer.

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Old 12-09-2012, 10:58 AM   #4
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Have only once in my life tasted beer aged in oak barrels and that was last month at New Belgium Brewery (Fort Collins CO) - La Folie Wood-Aged Biere. Must say it was foul as far as I was concerned. And I love visiting this brewery and enjoy a Fat Tire.

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Old 12-09-2012, 11:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el_caro
Have only once in my life tasted beer aged in oak barrels and that was last month at New Belgium Brewery (Fort Collins CO) - La Folie Wood-Aged Biere. Must say it was foul as far as I was concerned. And I love visiting this brewery and enjoy a Fat Tire.
La Folie is a sour beer. That flavor isn't indicative of a beer aged in a oak barrel. It can be though. The yeast and bacteria that make a beer sour like to take shelter in the wood. If you want a clean beer you just have to keep those guys out of there.

To the OP, you may know this, but a common practice is the age a lesser ABV, lighter beer each succession of the barrel. It will also likely take a bit longer each time to get the flavor you are looking for. Taste often at first. If you over oak it, you can always brew another batch to blend it with though.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:38 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input guys. Yes it's completely dry, never been used or soaked.

I've heard if it's a virgin barrel that the oak flavors will be huge within only a few days, so I'll be testing it daily and only expect to have it in there a week max.

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Old 12-09-2012, 08:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinjeepin
Is it a dry barrel? Never has had anything in it? Definitely swell it with water before anything else. If it doesn't leak you are good there. Some say to burn a sulfur stick/rag in it to sanitize. There is also a solution of citric acid and something else to sanitize.
Do not burn sulfur or rag in it! If you do not know what you are doing it can have fumes in it and it can explode!
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman

Do not burn sulfur or rag in it! If you do not know what you are doing it can have fumes in it and it can explode!
That's true if its a used liquor barrel. If its never been used there will be no risk of explosion. Same goes for wine or previously used beer barrels. As long as the contents aren't flammable there's nothing to explode.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillacandy

That's true if its a used liquor barrel. If its never been used there will be no risk of explosion. Same goes for wine or previously used beer barrels. As long as the contents aren't flammable there's nothing to explode.
Didn't know that, thanks!
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:20 AM   #10
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Beer and wine barrels pose less risk. Liquor barrels have exploded, violently, before. If you take care to rinse it, you should be fairly safe. Then again, if the barrel is wet with 80-100 proof liquor you should be sanitary already. No need to rinse or burn sulfur. Obviously, a new barrel is safe. Sulfur carries its own set of precautions, so that mixture of Campden and citric acid would be your best bet.

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