5-Gallon Oak Barrel is not 5-gallons

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Jan 18, 2014
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I recently purchased what was advertised as a new 5-gallon charred oak barrel from a barrel company located in the Midwest that I intended to age a new batch of hard cider in. While filling it with boiling water to swell the staves I decided to measure the volume because it just didn't seem large enough to hold 5-gallons. It held 4.4 gallons! I contacted the place I bought it from asking why their 5-gallon barrel only holds 4.4 gallons. They replied that the barrels are handmade and there are inconsistencies in their actual volumes. I replied that being off by .6 gallons on a five-gallon barrel is not an inconsistency but more like false and deceiving advertising. They provided a return shipping label and will refund upon receiving the barrel back. At least I didn't have to go the PayPal dispute route but still frustrating and annoying. Has anyone else had or are aware of this problem? I thought that going with an established oak barrel company would be on the up and up as compared to ebay, amazon or the like. The barrel was made in Mexico by what was described as a long-standing family owned and operated cooperage.
They don't include liter comparison, only gallons. It also continued to leak after 6 days of being filled with hot water with many dumps and top offs each day. Just all-around poor craftsmanship. The galv rings were rusted when it showed up, sitting around for some time, I guess?
I shipped it back this morning.
I found an oak barrel company that actually makes their barrels and they verified that their barrels are 5-gallons as advertised. More expensive but they look like a much better quality. You get what you pay for... I'll be placing an order for one of their barrels today. The shipping is ouch...
After further research and texting with a Bochart rep, I decided to go with one of their 6-gallon oak barrels. French Oak, charred with stainless steel hoops. They stated that their barrels are typically a bit larger volume-wise than the identified capacity. Shipping was very reasonable as well. Asking Santa for a second one...
I bought a 5 gallon barrel was more like 5.5 gallons, my problem was the opposite of your. I will say good it made 3 great beers for me though, no leaks
Dr_Jeff - I checked out the Barrel Mill as an alternative but they were sold out through 2023... They don't provide $$ on their website, I wonder how their prices compare to the other "legit" premium US made barrel manufacturers? The shipping can be cost prohibitive depending on location. Bochart quoted a very reasonable shipping charge; location obviously played a large part. Mile Hi Stills' shipping was too expensive.
Received my new 6-gallon barrel from Bochart today. Very nice! A gigantic leap in both craftsmanship and materials. Highly recommend this barrel manufacturer. I already want to get another one...