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Old 09-21-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
CelticBrew14
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Default Question on Rye Whiskey Barrel!

I just picked up a 10 gallon Rye Whiskey Oak Barrel that I plan on putting an Imperial Porter into. Any suggestions on how long I should let my 10 gallons sit on that oak? I plan fermenting in glass carboys before transferring to to the barrel as a secondary. Also, should I star San it first before I transfer in? My brew club had three large barrels we racked into and one infected the batch so I am wondering.

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Old 09-21-2012, 05:13 PM   #2
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There is no 'answer' for how long it should be in the barrel. Every barrel is different so you'll want to taste it throughout the process and pull it out when it hits a whiskey profile you are looking for. Technically if the barrel is very fresh and still wet, it should be sanitary since it's usually filled with 100+ proof booze. But as the barrel dries out, nasties can grow.

Personally, I fill my barrels with StarSan. The upside is I can sleep well at night knowing I've done everything I can to prevent an infection and the barrel will never spring a leak. The downside is that rinsing and/or storing with sanitizer reduces the strength of the whiskey/oak. I'd rather rinse/soak and have to barrel age for an extra week than get an infection in a barrel and have to use it as a sour barrel or even get rid of it.

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Old 09-22-2012, 11:56 AM   #3
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No on the star-san, putting sanitizers in the barrel is a good way to screw up the barrel. Sure its no rinse but thats for non porous surfaces not the inside of a charred oak barrel. Just fill your kettle up with water get it boiling and fill the barrel with a hot citric acid solution. That will do what you need and it's safer than using a sanitizer in the barrel. The other option is sulfur sticks but I don't know much about them and what to do after using them.

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Old 09-22-2012, 12:09 PM   #4
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If the barrel is wet with booze DO NOT use a sulphur stick. Flame + flammable booze + enclosed space = exploding barrel.

Hot water and citric acid is a good option.

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Old 09-22-2012, 03:08 PM   #5
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Boiling water is good, then if you end up leaving the water in for very long you can toss in a campden tablet.

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Old 09-24-2012, 06:49 PM   #6
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Thanks all, I will go that route.

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Old 09-26-2012, 01:48 PM   #7
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I have a couple Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey Barrels and a Woodinville Bourbon Barrel. If you aren't going to fill it right away, it's a good idea to keep it wet in a sanitary way. Put some whiskey in and change it's position each day, rotating from the head to the staves. If you don't want to move it everyday, fill with a holding solution of Potassium Metabisulphite (k-meta) and Citric Acid. 1 teaspoon of Citric Acid (5.25 grams) and 1.5 teaspoons of k-meta (11.25 grams) per gallon. Top up with water every so often as it evaporates. I do not like spirit heavy barrel aged beer so I opt for the Citric Acid and K-meta solution since it strips out some spirit flavor. Smaller barrels will contribute more flavor faster, they will also allow more oxygen in. I coat 2/3s of my 8 & 10 gallon barrels with paraffin wax to try and mimic the same surface area to volume ratio with respect to oxygen permeability as a 53 gallon barrel. When you are ready to fill, if you used whiskey to keep the barrel wet, just dump it out (but keep it!) and fill the barrel. If you used the holding solution, rinse thoroughly before filling. Age for a minimum of 3 months, 6 months should be better.

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Old 09-26-2012, 01:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstar26t
I have a couple Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey Barrels and a Woodinville Bourbon Barrel. If you aren't going to fill it right away, it's a good idea to keep it wet in a sanitary way. Put some whiskey in and change it's position each day, rotating from the head to the staves. If you don't want to move it everyday, fill with a holding solution of Potassium Metabisulphite (k-meta) and Citric Acid. 1 teaspoon of Citric Acid (5.25 grams) and 1.5 teaspoons of k-meta (11.25 grams) per gallon. Top up with water every so often as it evaporates. I do not like spirit heavy barrel aged beer so I opt for the Citric Acid and K-meta solution since it strips out some spirit flavor. Smaller barrels will contribute more flavor faster, they will also allow more oxygen in. I coat 2/3s of my 8 & 10 gallon barrels with paraffin wax to try and mimic the same surface area to volume ratio with respect to oxygen permeability as a 53 gallon barrel. When you are ready to fill, if you used whiskey to keep the barrel wet, just dump it out (but keep it!) and fill the barrel. If you used the holding solution, rinse thoroughly before filling. Age for a minimum of 3 months, 6 months should be better.
Now that is solid advice.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:20 PM   #9
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I forgot to mention that the Dad's Hat barrels (which I'm assuming the OP has) have a lot of char chunks on the inside, almost 2 cups worth. The Woodinville barrel didn't. You want to make sure you get the chunks out so they don't clog your transfer or your kegs down the line. My goal is to get the barrels neutral for doing sours. I'm careful about making sure the beer is clean before transferring to the barrel. The barrel will get rinsed before the next batch but the less sediment, the better I feel. I don't have a filter so I crash the beer (30F) for a couple weeks and fine it before transferring into the barrel. If you transfer cold, keep in mind it will expand as it warms in the barrel. I like to purge and then pressurize the barrel with CO2 and transfer counter pressure to keep oxygen exposure to a minimum. I use the old stainless steel nail trick for taking samples so I never have to remove the bung/stopper.



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Old 09-27-2012, 01:46 PM   #10
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Thanks for the information, great advice. It is a Dad's Hat 10 gallon barrel. I am planning on making a hopped up Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. I was figuring 8 gallons to allow for some headspace but I have not brewed yet so I could alter the volume. I think I am going to go the way of using Whiskey in it until I fill it as I do want the flavor to come through

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