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Old 08-12-2013, 02:20 PM   #1
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Default Gluten and oak barrels

I've got a question, and hopefully you more knowledgable folks can help. For background, I am not gluten free, but my girlfriend is. I often make cider for her to drink.

I am going to get a used bourbon barrel for aging (should be gluten free already, right?).

The first thing I'll age in the barrel is a breakfast stout, containing gluten. After this I'd like to age a cider in the barrel. After the aging of the beer, I would clean it with hot water (boiling, if required) and then soak it with bourbon again. Then it would have fermented cider (about 7-8%) in it for about a month.

Is this safe enough to be gluten free? Will cleaning the barrel, and the presence of alcohol effectively denature any gluten? I could increase the cleaning to include metabisulfates and citric acid.

I've chosen this order based the planned availability of cider this fall, and the fact that the breakfast stout would benefit from a strong oak and bourbon flavour, while the cider needs less.



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Old 08-12-2013, 04:38 PM   #2
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This will not work. Wood is too porous to clean thoroughly enough. At best, it will be "gluten reduced".

Now you got me thinking. I want a bourbon barrel aged cider. I have the barrel. Does the barrel prevent enough air from getting through? I'm just worried about getting bourbon vinegar. Although....



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Old 08-12-2013, 05:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osedax
This will not work. Wood is too porous to clean thoroughly enough. At best, it will be "gluten reduced".

Now you got me thinking. I want a bourbon barrel aged cider. I have the barrel. Does the barrel prevent enough air from getting through? I'm just worried about getting bourbon vinegar. Although....
Is there no way to effectively remove a contamination of gluten from a porous surface like wood?
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:43 PM   #4
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Also, I spoke with the distiller, who told me they do a double distillation. The first is with the mash, the second is only spirit through a more complicated still. Then it's just spirit in a barrel.

He said they have not tested and are not certified gluten free. But distilled alcohol is gluten free, and they are making distilled alcohol in the traditional manner. So I'm willing to declare the barrel gluten free.

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Old 08-12-2013, 05:50 PM   #5
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I might be wrong but any grain alcohol will indeed have gluten, your GF cant drink any spirit she wants can she?
We have a distilery on the island that distills potato vodka (since long island used to be a giant potato farm) and they clearly display a sign for "gluten free" spirit.

I would double and triple check your sources and make sure you dont do all this work just for your GF to have a reaction.

Cheers!

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Old 08-12-2013, 06:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnyhitch1
I might be wrong but any grain alcohol will indeed have gluten, your GF cant drink any spirit she wants can she?
We have a distilery on the island that distills potato vodka (since long island used to be a giant potato farm) and they clearly display a sign for "gluten free" spirit.

I would double and triple check your sources and make sure you dont do all this work just for your GF to have a reaction.

Cheers!
I'm fairly certain distilled alcohol is gluten free. Can anyone here who is a glutard and drinks whiskey confirm this?
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:49 PM   #7
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Distilled spirits are gluten free. I drink whiskey, but also the amount of gluten that could possibly be in there after stilling would be minimal. However, the stout would be full of gluten. As long as you are not doing one for wheatards?

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Old 08-12-2013, 07:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivegot2legs View Post
I am going to get a used bourbon barrel for aging (should be gluten free already, right?).
Gluten is a combination of two glycoprotein found in a handful of cereal grains. Wood does not contain gluten. Because of its molecular mass, and proteinatious nature, gluten is also not present in distillates - even if the source grains contained it. Proteins do not get concentrated during distillation - they are not volatile enough to leave the boiler.

But there is a caveat - some distilled liquors may be post-distilled flavoured with grain-derived additives. These may or maynot contain gluten.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivegot2legs View Post
The first thing I'll age in the barrel is a breakfast stout, containing gluten. After this I'd like to age a cider in the barrel. After the aging of the beer, I would clean it with hot water (boiling, if required) and then soak it with bourbon again. Then it would have fermented cider (about 7-8%) in it for about a month.
If your SWIMBO is truly gluten intolerant, instead of being on the anti-gluten bankwagon, than this is a bad idea. Wood is porous - its going to be hard, if not impossible, to remove all of the gluten from the barrel.

Bona fide gluten intolerance is an allergy, meaning that even minute quantities of gluten (like the small amounts that may transfer to a cider after aging a stout) would be enough to start a reaction.

Now, if SWIMBO is just on the current (and false) bandwagon that gluten is some horrific toxin that's going to kill us all (despite being a part of our diet for hundreds of thousands of years, but I digress), than the trivial amounts remaining will be low enough to be considered gluten-free.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivegot2legs View Post
Is this safe enough to be gluten free? Will cleaning the barrel, and the presence of alcohol effectively denature any gluten? I could increase the cleaning to include metabisulfates and citric acid.
None of those will destroy gluten, and denaturing does nothing to effect the properties of an allergen (SWIMBO's immune system will recognized gluten in its natural and denatured forms). There is no reliable way to get rid of materials absorbed into wood, due to its porosity.

I'd also add that - gluten aside - you probably don't want to do this. Because of its porosity, wood tends to hold onto flavours and pass them onto subsequent batches. Meaning your cider will very likely end up tasting like your stout. Moreover, there is a high 'contamination' risk using barrels, particularly with organisms like brettanomyces and lactobacillus (which can literally eat wood). Contamination in quotes, as the characteristic imparted is desired by many brewers.

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Old 08-12-2013, 08:04 PM   #9
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Yeah, your problem is trying to do a beer first in the barrel. That will render it as a potential cross contaminant, and its not going to be washable. You can do the cider first, then the beer, but you will a migration of flavors.
Unless they add mash back into the distillate, you shouldn't have a problem.

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Old 08-12-2013, 08:37 PM   #10
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She is actually gluten intolerant, and not just crazy.


Based on your help, I'll do the cider first. This should guarantee a gluten-free beverage and a delicious bourbon flavour.

I then plan on cleaning and reseasoning the barrel with bourbon, then to be used for a Kentucky breakfast stout. Finally it will become a sour barrel for a Kriek.

Anybody see an issue here?

Thanks for the help so far.



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