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Old 12-09-2011, 07:41 PM   #1
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Default Bourbon Barrel decision

I'm going to be brewing batch No. 4 this weekend. This is going to be my first "adventurous" brew - meaning not straight from a kit.

I'm going to be doing a bourbon barrel old ale. I plan on letting this age a long time - like at least six months - but here's my dilemma:

There's a small-batch distillery here that sells 5-gallon, used bourbon barrels for $100 each. I really like the idea of aging my old ale in one of these. (The bourbon they make is really good stuff, so no worries about the flavor.) But I just worry a little that doing that might be a bit over my current experience level.

I could always just go the route of buying some oak cubes, soaking them in bourbon and putting them in a carboy with the beer. That would probably be easier and simpler, but it doesn't seem nearly as "cool."

What do you guys think?


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Old 12-09-2011, 07:44 PM   #2
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If cost is no concern, go for it! That's the joy of homebrewing - you get to try stuff. There's plenty of info on here for barrel aging.

If cost is a concern, see if you can get 'em down to $50 for the barrel, then go for it!


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Old 12-09-2011, 07:46 PM   #3
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I would kill or die to have a five gallon bourbon barrel. Once it started leaking I would take it apart and use pieces of it jusy like oak chips we can both buy in the store.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:52 PM   #4
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Go for it!!! Lagunitas and Russian River Brewing both have beers they age in bourbon barrels and it is wicked good...different, but good
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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Just be sure they're freshly emptied,no staves drying out & shrinking apart. Basically,it has to still be moist with a significant amount of bourbon still in it. That's the way the distillery in Cinci sold them when I worked down there.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:10 PM   #6
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I thought when they tapped a barrel for bottling they knocked a hole in it with an ax, rendering it unusable. Is that just for Rum?
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:34 PM   #7
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I've seen them drill a hole in the bung,then use this tool to pull it out.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
Just be sure they're freshly emptied,no staves drying out & shrinking apart. Basically,it has to still be moist with a significant amount of bourbon still in it. That's the way the distillery in Cinci sold them when I worked down there.
This is what I worry about. I was told "they're not über fresh, but they should make fine beer barrels."

I know the guys that run the place, so if I got a barrel and it didn't work, I'm sure they'd refund my $100, BUT... I'd likely lose out on the 5 gallons of beer I brewed.

Right now, I am leaning toward just getting the oak cubes. I'm leaving for the LHBS (actually it's Rebel Brewer, but they're the closest LHBS to me) in a couple hours to pick up my order. I'll probably just pick up some oak cubes while I'm there.

If I change my mind and decide to go with the barrel, I'll only be out $3 for the cubes.

If anyone else has any words of advise, I'd love to see them. Thanks!
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:50 PM   #9
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I used oak chips myself. they work faster ime. I soaked 4oz (half a small bag) in 5 jiggers of Beam's Black the entire time my dark ale recipe ws fermenting. I put the mix in a tight lidded plastic container (the kind oscar meier puts their deli meats in). It soaked up 2/3's of the bourbon in that couple of weeks.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:55 PM   #10
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Yeah, I considered chips, but since this is an old ale and I am going to be aging it for several months, I figured cubes would be best. If I was just doing a standard bourbon barrel ale that would only be in secondary a few weeks, I'd got with chips, I think.


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