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Barrel Aging A Traditional Burton IPA

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conan71

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I’ve been thinking for awhile about doing as authentic an historical Burton IPA as possible. I’ve looked into oak barrels, but all the ones I can source on the internet seem to be medium char.

Consensus seems to be that the barrels used to age and ship IPA to India were not charred but steamed and that’s how the beer naturally picked up a brett character. I’ve also found charts online which have aging time conversions for smaller barrels due to the ratio of liquid vs. surface area.

I brew all-grain and was planning to use straight Maris Otter, as that would seem to have a more authentic malt, and come out with a 1.065-1.075 OG.

Basically, I’ve done quite a bit of research, but have yet to read an account from someone who has done this approach.

As Wyeast’s Burton strain is available Jan-March, I’m about to pull the trigger on this batch pretty soon. I was thinking of doing 10 gal, and oak aging in a barrel and doing the other with un-toasted chips in a carboy.

Two questions: has anyone found a source for un-charred barrels, and second, do you feel you get much oak character from chips?

The main reason I wanted to age in a barrel was for the beer to experience the temp and humidity changes this style would have experienced back in the day.

Would love to hear some feedback from others who have done this.
 

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