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Old 01-23-2013, 06:28 AM   #1
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Default Barrel aging question

I am planning on aging a portion of a porter that I recently brewed in a 2.5 gallon american oak barrel that I purchased from Thousand Oaks Barrels. I was planning on adding about 8 oz of bourbon, swishing it around in the barrel for a few days, then adding the beer. (I already filled the barrel with warm water so the wood staves would swell closed). I was planning on leaving the beer in the barrel for about a month for it to barrel age. My questions are, do I need to add anything to the barrel besides the beer and bourbon? I am assuming that the Co2 will escape (along with some of the alcohol in the beer, do I need to top the barrel off from time to time for evaporation? what should I use to top if off? I am assuming that I can't serve the beer from the barrel since there is no way to carbonate the beer in the barrel? (Co2 would escape?, or if not then could I add malt extract/sugar to carbonate it?). The barrel does have an air lock. I was assuming you would only add yeast to the barrel if you were making a sour beer?

Thanks, Jeff

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Old 01-23-2013, 06:37 AM   #2
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Even if the beer's completely fermented out, it wouldn't be a bad idea to cap the barrel with an airlock or a 3-stage bung to allow excess pressure to vent out (apparently that's what they're doing at Russian River).

As for cleaning/prepping the barrel initially, check out MoreBeer's Barrel Prep Guide,

All in all, a month in a 2.5gal barrel should be more than enough oak, could end up harsh, though it may provide a little less depth than a larger sized barrel.

You could definitely serve straight from the barrel, as long as you've previously ensured that you're not going to be worrying about trub by either cold-racking or filtering the beer into the cask. For more on tapping cask ales, see CAMRA's guides on Cellarmanship.
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