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Old 12-27-2012, 10:07 PM   #1
Jul 2012
Washington, DC
Posts: 92
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Hey All-

I went on a bourbon distillery tour at Buffalo Trace in KY and left with a 53 gallon cask. Kind of an impulse buy but I'm still jacked about it.

I'm working on some sort of bourbon porter recipe for it (suggestions are welcome!).

My main concern now is prepping it. I spoke to someone who recommended I fill it with water for a few days to rehydrate the wood, then pre use I sanitize with boiling water, and soak it with a bottle or two of bourbon for a few days (to add some fresh flavor).

Also concerned about how I would fill it with that much boiling water.

Thoughts on this process? Suggestions?


Isn't Oaky pretty?

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Primary: Snake Dog Clone, Belgian Chamomile Pale,
Secondary: Oaky Hard Cider, Saison
Bottled and waiting on:
Drinking:, Gingerbread Porter, Nutbrown Variety (Chocoalte, Hazelnut, Vanilla, Bourbon, Coffee, regualr), ESB, Bourbon Porter, Honey Wheat IPA, Meyer Witbier, Galaxy SMaSH

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Old 12-27-2012, 11:43 PM   #2
android's Avatar
Jan 2009
Ames, Iowa
Posts: 3,062
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saul, i have absolutely no experience in this realm, but I might suggest you pour a bottle of whiskey or something in there and slosh it around to help the hydration issue.

as for sanitation: are you planning to fully ferment in the barrel or age in there? either way, i would think the booze would keep most of it at bay, and it might be interesting to see what micros are already in there and how they influence the beer.

nice score! now get to brewing up a huge batch(es) of beer!
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:06 AM   #3
Aug 2012
Pennington, NJ
Posts: 564
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SOUR BEER! Get some friends and do a Flanders Red or Lambic! You won't regret it,
Check out my blog! Lambic brewday!

Fathom Brewing


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Old 12-28-2012, 12:18 AM   #4
Jun 2011
South China, Maine
Posts: 277
Liked 17 Times on 15 Posts

Any idea how long its been sitting without liquid in it? My club got a barrel from allagash that had recently been used and it required no sanitization or hydration. It was in my possession for 2 weeks with no fluid. It leaked in a couple spots for less than 12 hours, negligible losses.

Between brews we fill with water treated with campden tablets to keep the barrel hydrated and bugs under control. Our first beer turned out pretty good, no unintentional souring.

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:32 AM   #5
Nov 2011
Victor, Idaho
Posts: 131
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Absolutely fill it with water and let it hydrate for a few days. Then Fill it with hot water (boiling ideally) to allow it to pasteurize. You just need steam or water over 180 degrees for ten minutes to kill anything. When you empty it, make sure to store it full or be sure to rehydrate before filling. This is key to check for leaks but also those whiskey barrels fail after time. Filling it with water prevents any wasted wort! And I have had great results with buffalo trace barrels. Great flavor. Lots of vanilla and oak

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:49 AM   #6
Apr 2009
Posts: 89
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Fantastic impulse purchase!

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:53 AM   #7
Jan 2012
Nashville, TN
Posts: 123
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That is awesome! Get a few friends to brew up some 'Kate The Great' to age in that baby!

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Old 12-28-2012, 01:20 AM   #8
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Nov 2012
Windom, MN
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from the looks of it, it won't work. you better send it to me for proper disposal.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:23 AM   #9
Darkness's Avatar
Oct 2011
Turners, MO
Posts: 493
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I have had mine a while just keep it wet and you are good Click image for larger version

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The small barrels are three gal from a brewery distillery in Saint Louis Mo
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:48 AM   #10
Sep 2012
Thurso, Québec
Posts: 470
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You will need to fill it with water for a week, I'd say, just to make the wood rehydrate and inflate. 99% chance that it will leak for a while, so do it in the garage or something like that. The wood will inflate and it will stop leaking, and now you're good to go.

If it doesn't stop leaking, you can fix it with wax (capping wax used in wive bottling, or bee's wax)

For that big, boiling water is a point... you will need imagination! But anyways, here how I do for my little oak casks. From what I've been told.

So now your barrel is full of water, and you are ready to sanitize it. Next steps are:
- Empty it
- Fill it about half of boiling water, then shake it for a while to get rid of any wood debrits inside (some put a metal chain inside to scrape the inside surface)
- Empty, then refill with boiling water and Sodium Metabisulfite (1 tbs / gallon)
- Let sit for 24h, turn/roll it regularly
- Empty, rinse good 3 times.
- Refill it with clean water, let it sit for another 24h.
- Empty, and you're good to go.

Always keep full of water when not used.

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