50 gallons of Hard Cider in a barrel

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Marek

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So I just finished talking with the local apple orchard in town, and I'm going to be buying a "package" they have for sale. It's a used 50 gallon whiskey barrel filled with fresh cider. Now comes the questions though..how do I ferment it using the wild yeasts already in it? How long will it take? Once its fermented do I bottle it like beer? What do you all think?

Thanks for the help,
Mark
 
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Marek

Marek

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$250, and the kit comes with the barrel, the cider, the air lock, the stopper, and a bung.
I don't know if it's a good deal or not but I really don't care I just wanna have some fun with this :)
 

Bender

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$250, and the kit comes with the barrel, the cider, the air lock, the stopper, and a bung.
I don't know if it's a good deal or not but I really don't care I just wanna have some fun with this :)
How are you going to move it? The liquid alone weighs about 400 lbs.
 

lapaglia

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Take an SG reading and leave it alone. The wild yeasts are in it you just have to hope that you get a good yeast to take over and not something nasty. Thats the problem with wild yeasts you never know what takes over. If it was me, and its not, Id throw in a bunch of crushed camden and use a commercial yeast. Thats a lot of cider to take a chance on.

Either way once it finished and sets for a month or two you can transfer it to a racking bucket and bottle 5 gals at a time.
 

ScottUV

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Wow! I'd love to see a picture of that. I don't have any experience with wild yeast so I don't know how reliable they are, but if something were to go wrong I'd hate for you to lose 50 gallons of cider. I'd say you should drop in a few campden tablets and use prepared yeast. Let us know how it goes! I hope we can trade some of our brews in the future! Good luck
 

mrfocus

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You must add sulfite. It will kill any nasty bacteria that could proliferate and eventually cause you harm when you drink the stuff. If you don't add yeast afterwards, the natural yeasts can survive the sulfite and will be much stronger after (since they don't have any competition).

Ideally, the amount of sulfite would depend on the pH of the must, but I think it is something between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons. (2.5 to 4 teaspoons for 50 gallons).
 

HarvInSTL

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How are you going to move it? The liquid alone weighs about 400 lbs.
I'd rather know where you are! Best offer we have had so far is $6.50/gallon and that place is almost 120miles away.

*Edit*
It appears that you are in Fairfield County, CT. Darn not close to me.

*/Edit*
 

Pogo

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Hmm...

Cider for $5.00 a gallon, plus you get a 50-gallon oak barrel thrown in!

SWEET!!!

Check with the vendor...since the barel is airlocked and all, he may have already treated the cider, and pitched a commercial yeast culture, too.

Pogo
 

rabidgerbil

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I'd rather know where you are! Best offer we have had so far is $6.50/gallon and that place is almost 120miles away.

*Edit*
It appears that you are in Fairfield County, CT. Darn not close to me.

*/Edit*
That was the first question I had too, now if I could just find something like that around here...
 
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Marek

Marek

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How are you going to move it? The liquid alone weighs about 400 lbs.
It actually weighs 550 lbs. including the barrel, I'm gonna have to get a couple buddies and some beer and we'll figure it out I guess :D
 

curbdawg

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New to this site but love reading these threads. My step father and I have been brewing cider in 55 gallon whiskey barrels for a few years now. We live in western mass, and buy directly from the orchard press for $3.20 a gallon for anything over 50 gallons. They do about 3-4 different blends of cider each using between 4-6 types of apples. We buy the barrels which they can get and usally cost between 80-$100.(the price goes up each year) Basically we have them lift the full barrel into a pickup truck with their forktruck. When we get home we siphon out about 3/4 of the cider into trash cans with clean plastic liners. We load the keg(s) into our basement than re-siphon to fill barrels. We don't add yeast, although i'd like to try it at somepoint. The fresh pressed cider always has fermented just fine with adding sugar. We've done honey batches, cranberry batches, and blueberry. We usally get about 23-24 cases of 22oz bottles when we are done.
 

blackwater

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Just got my 50 Gallon white oak barrel and filled with cider for $160 total!!!! Took 3 of us 15 minutes to get it into the Cellar which stays between 45- 50 degrees. Have no clue what to add.
 

Tusch

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Blackwater, you might want to up the heat a bit. Most yeasts, including wild, would prefer to be at least in the mid 50's if not higher. Hard task to do with 500ish lbs of brew, but a different location might be needed.
 

blackwater

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Blackwater, you might want to up the heat a bit. Most yeasts, including wild, would prefer to be at least in the mid 50's if not higher. Hard task to do with 500ish lbs of brew, but a different location might be needed.
OK. Not sure how I'm going to 1) move it, friends are still reeling from the first move into the basement. and 2) get the temp up as the temp is what it is in my NH basement. (unheated)
 

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Ok first black water

Use a handtruck/ appliance dolly which a 600 pound capacity, then just be careful and use dolly straps to stop it from falling off, or just toe straps if useing a regualr hand truck. Also you could raise the tempature in your NH basement by heating it either have a HVAC tech run a couple heating supplies into your basement from your home heating plant, or put a small space heater in the basement to raise the tempature 15 or 20 degrees (note please fallow all instructions on the space heater)...or you coule use a 55 gallon aquarium heater but you would have touble with the heat staying all in one genral location in the liquid, you would get some movement of heat becasue of the bubbleing of fermentation but not as much as required... youd probably have to circulate the cider in the barrle somthing like every 30 min - 1 hour for best heat distribution... at about the same rate a aquirium pump your circulate the water in a 55 gallon aquirum...

So I just finished talking with the local apple orchard in town, and I'm going to be buying a "package" they have for sale. It's a used 50 gallon whiskey barrel filled with fresh cider. Now comes the questions though..how do I ferment it using the wild yeasts already in it? How long will it take? Once its fermented do I bottle it like beer? What do you all think?

Thanks for the help,
Mark

If you must do this the old fashioned way then i would at least scrub as stated with sulfite to at least contol your bactiera, do find out if its already treated... and if it is add in some old english style or new england style cider yeast... and i would sugest doing yourself a favor and sterilize with Camp tabs (although i dont like them) and then pinch in a good new england cider yeast... it will save you possible heart ake later and stomic ake

Cheers
 

Firstnten

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Hmm...

Cider for $5.00 a gallon, plus you get a 50-gallon oak barrel thrown in!

SWEET!!!

Check with the vendor...since the barel is airlocked and all, he may have already treated the cider, and pitched a commercial yeast culture, too.

Pogo
Yeah sounds too good to be true...
 

blackwater

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Alright! I did it. 550 lbs of whiskey barrel rolled off while on a piano dolly and onto my knee!!! After screaming for my buds to get it off of me and lying on the ground for a 1/2 hour in pain we proceeded to push this thing 80 ft. along my dirt basement floor as the wheels dug into the ground. We finally tipped it up and got it out the door into the night. We then put the barrel on a hand truck dolly and strapped it in. We laid down the dolly so the barrel was on its side with the dolly underneath. Realizing that we had about 125 yards to push this thing on the snow covered NH ground with ice underneath I suggested that we tie the dolly to the back of a truck and pull it out of the back yard, around to the front of the house, and into the front living room. So one of us drove the truck and two of us balanced the barrel on the dolly making sure it didn't roll. This took a very loooong time. We looked ridiculous!!
So......... After 3 hours we finally had the barrel in place and I don't ever want to think about moving that damn thing again. I don't even want to look at it!! It's 65 degrees in it's new spot and as of this morning still no bubbles.

Is there a way that I could have killed the yeast by it being that cold down there?

I put these pills in it to kill the wild yeast when I started a week ago, I then waited two days and put in new yeast and 50 lbs of sugar. So I guess we'll see.

Ok first black water

Use a handtruck/ appliance dolly which a 600 pound capacity, then just be careful and use dolly straps to stop it from falling off, or just toe straps if useing a regualr hand truck. Also you could raise the tempature in your NH basement by heating it either have a HVAC tech run a couple heating supplies into your basement from your home heating plant, or put a small space heater in the basement to raise the tempature 15 or 20 degrees (note please fallow all instructions on the space heater)...or you coule use a 55 gallon aquarium heater but you would have touble with the heat staying all in one genral location in the liquid, you would get some movement of heat because of the bubbling of fermentation but not as much as required... youd probably have to circulate the cider in the barrle somthing like every 30 min - 1 hour for best heat distribution... at about the same rate a aquirium pump your circulate the water in a 55 gallon aquirum...


Cheers
 

Tusch

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How long has it been back up to temperature? If it is airlocked, with brewer's yeast, and at a more moderate temperature, give it a couple days before you worry. While, with proper nutrition, fermentation should start within a day, it can take several days to start. And perhaps being in the cold did force the yeast into a dormant stage. All that means is that they need to be woken back up, which all the moving and the new temperature should do. If it doesn't start fermenting after a couple days, go ahead and pitch some more yeast. How much did you pitch? With this large of a batch, you would need a fairly substantial amount of initial yeast.
 

blackwater

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Thanks,

I put in 9 packets that were rated for 5 gallon batches so hopefully enough. I drilled a hole in the wooden plug and put a plastic tube going from the plug to a bucket of water. Then I dripped candle wax around the plug and around the tube. It's only been in it's new room since 8pm last night so I guess I'm rushing it.

Is there an airlock which would be better than what I set up with the wax and such?

Thanks,

Chris

How long has it been back up to temperature? If it is airlocked, with brewer's yeast, and at a more moderate temperature, give it a couple days before you worry. While, with proper nutrition, fermentation should start within a day, it can take several days to start. And perhaps being in the cold did force the yeast into a dormant stage. All that means is that they need to be woken back up, which all the moving and the new temperature should do. If it doesn't start fermenting after a couple days, go ahead and pitch some more yeast. How much did you pitch? With this large of a batch, you would need a fairly substantial amount of initial yeast.
 

gwood

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Man, I've always wanted to do this when I drive by the orchards by my in-laws. Awesome.

If this has only been sitting for a day at 65F you still need to give it some time to make a determination. The airlock seems like it will work fine, you'll just have to keep and eye on it. I would hope it's bigger than the standard three piece though.

Thanks,

I put in 9 packets that were rated for 5 gallon batches so hopefully enough. I drilled a hole in the wooden plug and put a plastic tube going from the plug to a bucket of water. Then I dripped candle wax around the plug and around the tube. It's only been in it's new room since 8pm last night so I guess I'm rushing it.

Is there an airlock which would be better than what I set up with the wax and such?

Thanks,

Chris
 

curbdawg

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I never used a blowoff tube. I would say leave the bung hole fully opened to let oxygen in there. That might help to get the fermenting started. After it boils over hard for a couple days then you can airlock it, or use your tube idea. Did you add any yeast nutrients? Oh and thats crazy how you moved that full barrel!!! We use to siphon out about half or more before even attempted to move it
 

blackwater

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Thanks you guys!
I got some yeast nutrients today as well as 3 more packets of yeast to kick this thing into gear. Yeah- Talk about a busted knee. I've been hobbling around for 2 days talking huge Motrins.
 

BrewinJack

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Sorry about the knee, i didnt think the idea with the dolly would be that difficult... have moved full 60 gallon water heaters (about 400 pounds) all by my self with one, but granted never more then 60 feet or so and its normally just outside to dump them over to drain the water out... other then that sounds like your getting things going... you used 50 pounds of sugar on treated cider which probably put your OG pretty high up... id guess like 1.07ish... your yeast is gonna take time to get started thats alot of mass to cover... i had a five gallon batch of cider take 3 days to start once, but then again the OG on that was about 1.25ish... it will just take time to start, unless it was treated with chemicals prior to sale... then when you put in the Tabs last week you effectively shocked the system...think of it as like a swiming pool where the two weeks prior to first use you are required to overload the pool with a very large ammount of chemicals to completely clean the system, effectivly bring it to a zero level... if it were treated prior to sale then you brought to to that zero level and now the yeast is having to start completely from scratch... it wont hurt anything i dont think, it will jsut take longer to start because an entirely new enviorment must be built for the yeast to grow... i have had this problem with Camp Tabs before, which is entirely not there fualt that I'm an idiot but i would just as soon not use them... unfortunatly you had no choice it would take you days to pasturize 55 gallons of cider with heat and probably cause a massive contamiation problem in the progress, and likely unlike me you read the directions properly before adding them... if the cider wasnt treated before sale then liekly you are still having same problem just on a smaller scale... what type of yeast are you useing??? good luck let us know how this turns out... oh and when the thing finally starts your living room is gonna smell like a dirty apple press... you might want to actully think about moving it somewhere more secluded, sorry

Cheers
 

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Warning drunk:

Why do you use the ellipsis instead of periods... All the time...
 

BrewinJack

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Warning drunk:

Why do you use the ellipsis instead of periods... All the time...
Warning not drunk

No... i also use periods. I used to watch... alot of old... Star Treck and tend... to.. talk like captin... Kirk... actully it doesnt have anything to do with it i actully end up thinking about what im gonna say before i am done typeing my previous statment. Its simple... to me it is

Cheers
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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No... i also use periods. I used to watch... alot of old... Star Treck and tend... to.. talk like captin... Kirk... actully it doesnt have anything to do with it i actully end up thinking about what im gonna say before i am done typeing my previous statment. Its simple... to me it is
Cheers
That sounded more like yoda than Kirk.
But... My God.... 50 GALLONS of cider. - I.. Don't... Think... that would be good for the body.
Unless it is served by an Orian slave girl. Scotty, beam her up. :mug:
 

BrewinJack

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That sounded more like yoda than Kirk.
But... My God.... 50 GALLONS of cider. - I.. Don't... Think... that would be good for the body.
Unless it is served by an Orian slave girl. Scotty, beam her up. :mug:
Yoda say, that is is not the volume of the cider which a problem to your body may present, but the motion of your body after the volume is consumed...yes... The slave girl of Orian, will help with this, she must.;)

Cheers
 

blackwater

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Love this forum!

Well the cider tube has stopped bubbling. It went great guns for about 2 weeks and has now slowed to nothing. Is that it???? Can't be right????? I can still here some simmering when I put my ear to the barrel but no bubbles in the water bucket that the tube rests in.

Huh?

Should I Add stuff or not or just chill out and let it happen. I tasted some last night and it tasted very yeasty. Blah....

Wish I new more about it.
 

Tusch

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If you have the ability, take out a small sample and take a hydrometer reading. Personally, I would let that sucker sit for minimum 3-4 months before even thinking about bottling.
 

tallor242

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A stop to vigorous fermentation after a couple weeks is pretty normal. Since yeast reproduction is going to be exponential during fermentation, it doesn't matter whether you're doing 1 gallon or 500. Time to let it sit for the rest of winter. Taking (and drinking) hydrometer readings can't hurt, though!
 

felix

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yep, sounds like a nice normal cider fermentation to me. You'll need a (sanitized) wine "thief" from your local home brewing supply shop to take a sample.
Good luck :)
 
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