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Old 02-06-2010, 08:00 PM   #1
thatleetboy
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Sep 2006
Toronto
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I've managed to grab several old (5-7yrs) oak barrels from a fellow who was pretty serious about making his own wine at home. They seem to all be about 10 gallons, American Oak, although one is just a bit larger, and is French.

I've rinsed and somewhat cleaned out one of them, and now, a couple of days in, the staves have finally swollen enough that it seems that it will be abled to hold whatever I put inside.

I'm having trouble finding much info about putting beer in a barrel. Is there anyone who might have a link or two to share? Or perhaps are experienced, and can answer a question or two?

I should also mention that I've never actually attempted to make a wild beer before, but I really want to try using these barrels to age in.

Cheers
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Old 02-07-2010, 03:30 AM   #2
Jaymo
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Mar 2009
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If you haven't read it, I highly, highly recommend reading Wild Brews! Not only does it have tons of information on sour/brett beers in general, but also has a section on barrel use and maintenance.

 
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Old 02-07-2010, 03:07 PM   #3
jessup
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it's really, really difficult to find any info on using oak barrels, esp with beer. i've found tidbits of information scattered about, but no single reference for using oak that could act as a guide with examples of possible problems or scenarios. the book suggested, wild brews, does have a good section on using oak for wild & sour beers. it really just goes over the importance of oak on brett.

use campden tablets & water to keep the barrel swelled or swollen between batches. when aging beer, top off as regularly as possible since a void may promote mold growth on unoccupied areas of the barrel. use an airlock since any additional fermentation in the barrel will build up pressure. if you use a bung/stopper with no airlock, pressure will build up and when you pull out the bung you will get a gushing effect and the barrel may foam for many, many hours (if not days). use vinegar to clean the outside of the barrel, don't use any toxic cleansers on it!

when i had a new barrel the seams at the croze were seeping thick sugary beer and fruit flies laid eggs which hatched little nasty looking worms. digusting! a good cleaning with a knife and acid solution fixed the problem but you can only imagine the thoughts in my head as i sipped the beer from that batch. fyi: they were only on the outside, a thorough cleaning of the inside produced zero actual bugs.

a quick google of oak barrel maintenance turned this up:
http://morebeer.com/public/pdf/wbarrel.pdf
http://www.ginopinto.com/instruction...aintenance.pdf
http://www.winebarrels.com/carenew.html
http://www.boomchugalug.com/barrel_instructions.htm
edit: http://www.babblebelt.com/newboard/b...esentation.ppt


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Old 02-07-2010, 09:10 PM   #4
thatleetboy
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Thanks for the tips.

I am carefully reading Wild Brews, perhaps too carefully too slowly. I'm only on page 162, just a few pages shy of the chapter on barrels, although it's not called that in the index, so I guess that's why I asked.

jessup > thx for the links, I also found the mad fermantationist a good read. There really isn't much out there that's easy to find, I assume that's because it isn't a very mainstream activity. I will take your advice on airlocks, I was going to use a stopper, so I'm glad you warned me.

After several days, the first barrel now seems to be pretty solid, I only lost a cup of liquid overnight. I have just filled it with iodophor solution as I don't have any Campden tablets.

Cheers
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:05 PM   #5
maskednegator
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How long did they sit empty? If I'm reading that they sat empty for 5 years, you've got a great chance of turning beer into vinegar with those barrels.

 
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:14 PM   #6
thatleetboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maskednegator View Post
How long did they sit empty? If I'm reading that they sat empty for 5 years, you've got a great chance of turning beer into vinegar with those barrels.
They're five year old barrels: NOT empty for five years.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:28 PM   #7
ryane
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Nov 2008
Washington
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a vinegar barrel could actually be a good thing, you can make some amazing stuff on your own

if you do I would find some chestnut, toast it and add to the barrel for extra flavor

 
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:02 PM   #8
maskednegator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thatleetboy View Post
They're five year old barrels: NOT empty for five years.
Roger. In that case, they're probably nicely mellowed out and ready for some sour beer loving.

 
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:14 PM   #9
PiMaxC
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Nov 2009
Pennsylvania
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This thread made me think, what about pumping smoke into the barrel for a while before you fill it, I think you could impart a little more flavor that way.

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:55 PM   #10
jessup
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PiMaxC View Post
This thread made me think, what about pumping smoke into the barrel for a while before you fill it, I think you could impart a little more flavor that way.
one word: displacement. when you fill up the barrel any smoke would be displaced by the liquid. you could always add the cooking stuff, liquid smoke, though. i think the standard for preserving barrels is to light a sulfur stick and let the smoke into the barrel and cap to keep the smoke in there. that prevents anything from growing. the point is, smoke in a barrel is nothing new.

taken from: http://morebeer.com/public/pdf/wbarrel.pdf
"When you store a barrel dry, you no longer have this constant source of protection and so you will need to add it directly to the dry barrel itself. The best way to do this is to burn a sulfur stick (or pastille, a small disc) in it. This is done by lighting the sulfur, putting it into a flameproof holder and lowering it into the barrel. The barrel is then closed up (most sulfur burners have a built in bung) to allow the gas and smoke to fill the inside of the barrel It is important that the burning sulfur be suspended in the middle of the barrel as it burns so that you do not burn the interior surface of the wood. This sulfur burning treatment will need to be repeated roughly every six weeks and should be maintained so that you are able to smell the presence of sulfur in the barrel at all times.
The standard dosage of sulfur is roughly 1/3 of a stick per 60 gallon barrel - roughly a 1” x 2-3” piece or a 5 gram pastille. If you are treating a 30 gallon barrel, then just break the standard dosage amount in half and save the unused portion for future treatments. Elemental sulfur remains inert forever until it burns, so you don’t have to worry about it going bad over time."

 
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