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Old 05-31-2012, 04:46 PM   #1
Jan 2012
Glendale, Ca
Posts: 143
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

I was talking with my buddy a few days ago and we got into a discussion about barrel aging. Doesnt wood contain ethanol that is extracted from contact with alcohol. Wouldn't the contents of wood contaminate beer and grain alcohol? Or is it just particular kinds of wood that contain these? I know that hard woods are better for smoking and bbqing because they contain less oils than there softer counterparts. Thanks!

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Old 05-31-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
Mar 2012
Tinley Park, Illinois
Posts: 80

I believe barrels used for aging are either charred, or affected in some other way. I think some barrels used for beer have already been used to age wine/whiskey.

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Old 05-31-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
Jan 2010
Medford, MA
Posts: 4,125
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wood doesnt contain ethanol, it contains cellulosic material that can be made into ethanol.

not sure what you mean about contaminating beer/alcohol

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Old 05-31-2012, 06:26 PM   #4
Dec 2009
Posts: 1,883
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I would think that if wood caused contamination, someone in the brewing industry would have figured it out sometime in the last several centuries.
"Anything worth doing, is worth doing slowly." ~~ Mae West

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Old 05-31-2012, 07:38 PM   #5
May 2012
Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Posts: 365
Liked 24 Times on 20 Posts

Have you tried Innis and Gunn? So freaking good. . . They did something right aging in used barrels. . .phenomenal beer.
Watershed Brewing Co.

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Old 05-31-2012, 07:43 PM   #6
ResumeMan's Avatar
Nov 2011
Oakland, CA
Posts: 480
Liked 28 Times on 27 Posts

I have some friends who do this a lot, though I have yet to participate.

I believe that, as depeanut says, the charring helps provide a seal to prevent contamination. Also, as you note, there's quite a bit of ethanol present from the liquor that was first aged in the barrels; that is really the whole point! And the alcohol absorbed in the wood and present as vapor in the interior all help keep things sanitary. And then this is all aided by the fact that it is generally pretty high-alcohol beers that are aged in them.

I've tried a few of the end products, and man are they gooood!!

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