barrel Ageing

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MikeFlynn74

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So the 999 thread got me thinking- It does hurt incase you were curious.

I want to do a BW and age it in a barrel. Do I barrel it after primary? Do I ferment in the barrel? How long can and should I age?
 

Brewtopia

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I'd primary as you normally would and secondary in the barrel. As far as how long, it really depends on the size of the barrel. If you have a 60 gallon wine or bourbon barrel, I'd go 6 months to a year. I did 6 months in a 15.5 gallon wine barrel for Grapes of Wrath which was just about right. As a general rule, the smaller the barrel, the greater surface to liquid ratio and the shorter the time in that barrel to achieve your desired oakiness.
 

Ooompa Loompa

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I have no experience with barrel aging, but I would guess for a nice hefty barleywine 6 months would be about right.
 

acr4

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Can't you achieve simiar results by using a glass carboy + toasted planks or cubes? I believe some wineries/commercial establishments are going to SS w/ wood pieces for sanitation, cost, and efficiency.

While a barrel sounds way neato, I would hate to lose a year-old brew to a funky barrel bug or crack or something...

BTW just tried my oaked IPA where I used 1 ounce dark toasted cubes for 4 weeks in secondary. It was ... oaky (but quite tasty) :)
 

McSwiggin'

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IMO, Barrel for secondary can = problems. If you are going to do it, I would ferment in the barrel and just leave it there. I have never done it, so I can't speak fromexperience, but I would want the yeast at it's prime to be sure it takes over from any other nasties that might be growng in there. If you rack to barrel as a secondary, I would be scared about sterlization. and if you do sterilize it, remember that wood is porous and may soak in the chemicals. Maybe if you sterilize with Potassium Metabisulfite (I think thats what the wine guys do) you would be O.K.

Remember, I am just throwing out an opinion, I really don't know.

You might check out the wine making forum on the links at the top of the page. There is a guy on there named Luc who seems to know just about everything. Drop a post in there and see how it comes out.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Speaking from experience, a 5g oak barrel will impart a LOT of flavor on its first couple uses. Buy your barrel local if you can, so you can take advantage of return policy/ real advise from a real person who stands behind the product. I have not had a problem with the barrel my brother and I use, but I have heard of problems with faulty barrels. My LHBS owner said if it leaks, just bring it bakc for a replacement.

If you are seriously considering buying a new barrel ($$$) I suggest buying the back copy of BYO for a couple months ago that was mostly devoted to barrel aged and oaked beers. It had buying tips, maintenance and may interviews with some of the top barrel aging breweries in the nation. I would say that issue is a very valuable resource for anyone looking to barrel age beer.

I would go for a secondary in the barrel, but both work just fine. There is a section in the BYO for that question as well.
 
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MikeFlynn74

MikeFlynn74

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Is there a way to really wash down the oakyness? What about getting one on a real light toast?
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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The toast will not affect the oakiness or amount of flavor, it will just impart a different flavor. You can do repeated water soaks to reduce the oak character but why. When you start using the barrel, buy a 6 pack of a similar beer to what you are brewing. Then, every couple of days take a sample and taste it. You use the 6-pack to "top-up" the barrel to prevent introducing air. When you first use your barrel, you will likely only need 2-3 maybe 4 weeks in the barrel to achieve a good oak character. After your oaking period, just rack into a carboy for bulk aging. A month would be great if you can wait that long, for the oak to mellow and meld with the whole batch (think cooking chili, its better the second day because everything has shared flavors between the ingredients). Just be sure all your racking equipment is clean and you will have no problems with sanitation.
 
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