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Old 02-02-2013, 03:29 AM   #1
swampcider
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Default whiskey barrel

just got a whiskey barrel from the building supply store....whats the best way to get it ready for my cider thats already done fermenting in plastic water cooler bottles? its going to sit for a year in the barrel too. I picked the apples/mashed/pressed and racked the 10 carboys,sure as hell dont want 50 gallons of vinegar to give away for xmas presents next year!!!
granted its already 6.5% and that might be enough to kill the baddies.
my plan is to fill it with 15 gallons of water which is a bit more than 1/4 full. add 15 camden and put it on its side...mark the barrel into four parts...
roll 1/4 more every 24 hrs till done and stand on each end for 24 hrs each.
i'd rather star san it and let her dry for a few days now that i think of it.
Anybody have any lessons to teach about this?

just entered 3 ciders in my first compitition in eugene today! wish me luck!

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Old 02-02-2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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I don't use barrels myself, but there's good info to be had onlline. Just google 'oak barrel cleaning' or 'wine barrel maintenance' and you will get some ideas on how to prepare it. Good luck!

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Old 02-02-2013, 12:01 PM   #3
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Wow, that's an ambitious project.

New or used barrel?

Either way, rinse like hell first.
I'd add more campden to the water, shooting for 100-150ppm personally, definitely do not use starsan or any other sanitizer, they will leach into the wood. Also keep an eye out for leaks (I lost ~30 gallons of apple brandy the other day to a leaking barrel).

I'd also dose the cider with a healthy amount of campden to protect from too much oxidation and potential infections, as well as check the pH and adjust it if I feel it's too high. You're also going to need another 5-10 gallons of cider to keep the barrel topped off through the year to account for what you loose to evaporation. It's going to be worth it to set up a regular schedule of opening the barrel, testing you sulfur and potentially adding more as needed, as well as topping up, maybe every 2 weeks.

The heavy char of the bourbon barrel is gonna give some serious smoke notes to the cider, so taste it regularly to be sure you don't overpower the cider. Also, consider aging it a little bit more in the bottle post barrel, as the character will change a bunch over the first few weeks/months.

Also, with 53 gallons of this stuff, you should seriously consider sending me a bottle

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:49 PM   #4
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The big question is, is the barrel already contaminated. If it has been stored properly burn a sulphur stick and your good to go...if its just been sitting you may want to hit it with hot water and a heavy dose of sulphites

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Old 02-02-2013, 05:30 PM   #5
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Well, i actually did 268 gallons this year 95% by myself and hope to go public in 2 years when it tastes like i want it. Sorry to hear about the 30 gal. brandy...thats alcohol abuse indeed!

Thanks for your imput and i will be bottling after the year is up.Are you saying that flavor changes are different when bottled than sitting in a closed barrel? Its not just time you say? Of course more time is always better i know....Just entered a 12mth old HALA-KAHINKI {pineapple in hawaiian} 9.3%....WOW! is all i can say...WAY SMOOTH

So,i'm good at records and have a calender in cider room for assorted rackings,ect.. and will mark every 2 weeks to inspect and adjust as weather gets warmer. Suggestion as to space left upon filling? None is my guess..Its done its dance mostly,except a malic maybe....Its my new baby,so will be a helicopter parent anyway.

Why test for sulfur routinely? Safety measure? I lean towards least amount of that stuff and have been good so far...but havent risked 50 gal...!

thanks for quick return and links to sites too. i'm stoked to get going on this barrel. about 20 yrs ago ,i did 3 barrels every year with friends in northeast kingdom ,VT.
But wasnt on the storage end of the process....anyhoo....peaceoutgary

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Old 02-02-2013, 05:33 PM   #6
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And what IS a heavy dose of sulfites? Filling with 50 gallons water dosent seem logical and a pound of k-meta...????

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Old 02-02-2013, 07:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampcider View Post
Well, i actually did 268 gallons this year 95% by myself and hope to go public in 2 years when it tastes like i want it.
Are you are already licensed, bonded and all that..setup and approved for commercial availability?
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampcider View Post
Are you saying that flavor changes are different when bottled than sitting in a closed barrel? Its not just time you say?
Yes, especially over the first few weeks. Flavors will start to blend together to form a more complete beverage with fewer layers.

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Originally Posted by swampcider View Post
Suggestion as to space left upon filling? None is my guess
Bingo, none!

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Originally Posted by swampcider View Post
Why test for sulfur routinely? Safety measure? I lean towards least amount of that stuff and have been good so far...but havent risked 50 gal...!
It's a two-fold measure. First it'll protect from infections which might be embedded in the barrel or the headspace. Second, it'll help protect the cider from oxidizing while in the air permeable barrel.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:25 AM   #9
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Makes sense to me....Am going to put a half gal. of everclear in it and roll slightly every few days to remove some of the smokyness. My buds did it and said the result was good. Dont mind the oaky,but no smoky.

Do i fill with water/k-meta during the short time empty?

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Old 02-03-2013, 11:32 AM   #10
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saranac...i have just started the daunting task of getting all that lovely paperwork in order. Oregon has a Nanobrewery category that I'll fit into to get my feet wet.
Kinda takes a wee bito fun outa brewing indeed........

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