Half Oak barrels for aging?

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COLObrewer

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Hey, Anyone ever try using one of the half oak barrels for aging barley wine? You know the ones they sell for planters. I saw some at the local grocery store, looks like they had red wine in them, pretty clean, they might be hard to get sealed but if it's possibly maybe I could make a wooden top and seal with some weather strip on the edge or something, sort of like a mini-cask of old. Might have to put another metal ring at the "top" that used to be the middle. ;)
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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It's just a full size oak wine barrel cut in half at the side bung, like these:


I'd have to plug the half bung hole or cut it again below that, drill a hole in the new lid for an airlock, etc, etc, Anyone done this? There is a thread that talks about using one for a mash tun but no actual post on if it worked or not.
:tank:
 

Gordie

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I've never heard of anyone doing it... possibly for good reason. By the time they get sawed they're more than likely not water tight. I'd give it a dry run with something less valuable than beer at first and also clean the daylights out of it and sanitize everything obsessively. I've seen what happens to cast off barrels... it isn't pretty...
 

samc

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Oak chips in a traditional carboy/better bottle or keg would be a lot easier.
 

Catt22

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Using any of those barrels for aging/conditioning a beer will almost certainly result in a bacterial infection of some kind. Not a good idea. They are probably whiskey barrels and not wine barrels as IIRC, wine barrels are used repeatedly while whiskey barrels are used only once so they are more commonly found at nurseries and such sold as planters and such. The barrels shown are open and exposed to all sorts of potential sources of infection. Don't know where that location is, but if it's a nursery or home improvement garden dept, there will likely be some nasties floating around from all the bags of compost and potting soil. An intact barrel (not a half barrel) would be a better option and then I would want it to be relatively fresh with the bung replaced immediately after it was emptied to help keep undesirables out.

You have probably heard of using fresh whiskey barrels for making bourbon barrel conditioned beers. These barrels are typically acquired at the distillery immediately after they are drained of whiskey and then subsequently filled with beer as soon as possible thereafter. I've got a beer in the primary right now to go into a fresh barrel on April 11th. Bourbon Barrel Double IPA with OG of 1.094 is the goal. Mmmmm!
 

stageseven

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I was looking at mini oak barrels a while ago online when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to brew or not. I came across this website that looked pretty interesting. Not sure if anyone around here has tried it before, but they have small barrels for pretty cheap that look like they'd be good for aging part of a batch. My main concern was that they might not be strong enough to stand up to the pressure created during carbonation.
 

leboeuf

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I also agree that this would not work. The barrel needs its top half in tact to be water tight. It's the bow in the planks that provide the force to seal everything up.
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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Why does all this make me want to try it MORE! What's wrong with me? I have answers (or solutions in my mind) for all these probably very sound suggestions, so why am I still going to do it? I'm just that kind of dood I guess? Really has no-one ever tried this?
 

giligson

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First off:

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use this to age your beer unless you are trying to make the worlds funkiest lambic or vinegar. There used barrels are dirty, dirty, dirty (and not in the good way). you would literally have to dissasemble them, plane down the staves and reassemble again.

Second:

I was looking at mini oak barrels a while ago online when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to brew or not. I came across this website that looked pretty interesting. Not sure if anyone around here has tried it before, but they have small barrels for pretty cheap that look like they'd be good for aging part of a batch. My main concern was that they might not be strong enough to stand up to the pressure created during carbonation.
They look hencho en mexico to me. Have a look here:
http://cgi.ebay.ca/tequila-oak-barrel-Mexican-Art-Handcrafted-cap-3-lt_W0QQitemZ320351988150QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item320351988150&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1215|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318
 

Catt22

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Why does all this make me want to try it MORE! What's wrong with me? I have answers (or solutions in my mind) for all these probably very sound suggestions, so why am I still going to do it? I'm just that kind of dood I guess? Really has no-one ever tried this?
Nope, never tried it and don't plan to. I don't like to put a lot of time, expense and effort into my beer only to have it go south when that situation could have easily been avoided.

Go for it if you insist! Some of us can only learn the hard way I guess. Post back and let us know how it turns out; if you survive, that is!
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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"Worlds funkiest lambic"

Definately sounds like an award I would strive to win, maybe use some locally captured yeast for it.:p
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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So, I'll get one from fleabay here: ONE HALF OAK WINE BARREL-TABLE- PLANTER- POND- FOUNTAIN - eBay (item 310131649873 end time Apr-25-09 12:27:48 PDT)
They say its "freshly cut off a full used red wine barrel when ordered to insure a tight, clean and fresh half barrel" . . . RIGHT!
Or, maybe find one from a local winery and cut my own.
Then proceed to clean any large chunks out, Cut it down a little more so the half bung hole isn't a problem (Unless I cut my own in the first place) Then fashion a plywood top to be cinched down or simply weighted, Fill with water to be certain it will hold it's own. Then get some sticky back weatherstripping and stick it on top of the sides, drill a hole in the top for a airlock, clean further maybe with some boiling water and walaa, you're ready for your very own high gravity ale red wine influencing conditioning vessel. Call me crazy :D but it will make a great beer, barley wine, lambic or other . . . . . or not, still, I don't see why anyone would DIE from it. :confused:
P.S. One should probably have a cave to put it in or at least a cellar for it to be authentic, among other reasons.
 

Catt22

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The beer is sure to oxidize conditioning it that way. The plywood might contribute some interesting formaldehyde essence with that woodsy lumberyard aroma. Worst case I don't think it will kill anyone. Might give them termites or something though.
 

LooyvilleLarry

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I would suggest something like this Kelvin Cooperage | Wine Barrels

And for any guys out there looking to do Bourbon Barrel beers, distilleries sell their old barrels off. Just contact one and they should be able to hook you up.:mug:
I was thinking the same thing.. Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine. DAMNNNNN..
Ryan, know anyone in Bardstown? I'm in the 'ville too.
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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The beer is sure to oxidize conditioning it that way. The plywood might contribute some interesting formaldehyde essence with that woodsy lumberyard aroma. Worst case I don't think it will kill anyone. Might give them termites or something though.
You don't think it would create enough CO2 to blanket itself? If I left very little headspace? Maybe purge with CO2 a little? I was wondering about the "essence of glued wood" possibilities also, maybe use oak laminated plywood? I'm not sure of the plywooding process though.:confused:
 

Catt22

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I was just ****ing with ya on the plywood. I doubt it will do any harm. The blanket of CO2 thing is dicey at best. Active yeast would consume any available oxygen in a closed fermenter and the CO2 they produce would push everything else out for the most part. Once the vigorous ferment is complete, then the CO2 will dissipate and O2 will infiltrate both to a level of normal air. This can only be avoided by using an airtight fermenter as we usually do. With an intact bourbon barrel it can be filled very close to the top and an air lock affixed. So long as the ferment is somewhat active enough CO2 will be produced to protect the beer. IMO, it's best not to leave the beer in the bourbon barrels too long. A couple of months or even less is enough.
 

happymonk

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"They are probably whiskey barrels and not wine barrels as IIRC, wine barrels are used repeatedly while whiskey barrels are used only once so they are more commonly found at nurseries and such sold as planters and such. The barrels shown are open and exposed to all sorts of potential sources of infection."""

The above pictures are positively wine barrels. There is no brown spirit that stains the inside of a charred white oak barrel red. Wine barrels are toasted not charred. The metal bands also are a give away, as well as the shape, and wood reinforcement across the end of a couple of the barrels. Also, BOURBON barrels are used once and the Bourbon is aged a minimum of 4 years in the barrel with a grist bill of no less then 50 % corn. Whiskey is a generic term for cheap blended booze that can be aged in whatever as many times as one likes. The brewery I work for currently has ten used red wine barrels full of Old Ale, where it will stay for a year. I have sampled some that has already been in for a year. It is a very worth while endevor. We have one full time beer aged in used Bourbon barrels, it is a stout.

My advise is to get 3 brewers together and do a group brew and fill an entire barrel. Then it is an exercise in patience. I personally have a group brew of a brandy barrel filled with mead. Mmmmm. One of our wine barrels dried out before we filled it. We set it over a drain and ran hot water in it until it sealed back up.. Then filled it. The best bet is to get directly from distillery prefferably the day they dumped it. Good luck..


"""Ryan, know anyone in Bardstown? I'm in the 'ville too"""

I do, I go pick them up from the distillery twice a month. Let me know if you want one we get charged $80-100 each. The prices have sky rocketed in the last year, due to the weak dollar all the Scotch makers started buying heavy. We usually pick up a couple extras every trip. I am at the BBC on Mian St ask for Joel. I also take our used barrels to Kelvin Cooperage, Denver and the rest of the gang out there are really god guys to work with. They have lots of good wine, brandy, and Bourbon barrels out there.
 

Nightbiker

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why bother carbonating in the barrel? Age it, then keg or bottle it, carbonate the 'normal' way (I prefer forced carb -that way you maintain control). I wouldn't go putting pressure to the barrels -it would promote seepage if nothing else. Besides, I wouldn't keep 'em in the barrel for extended periods due to oxidation and contamination risks, but thats just me. I'm hoping to getting a small brew-party going and making a barleywine for an oak cask, two or three of us brewing to make a good batch to kask, and let that baby age.... mmmmmmmm beeer....
 
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I know Four Roses sells them, they are in Lawrenceburg though. Not sure about Bardstown distilleries they have to get rid of them somehow.....
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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why bother carbonating in the barrel? Age it, then keg or bottle it, carbonate the 'normal' way (I prefer forced carb -that way you maintain control). I wouldn't go putting pressure to the barrels -it would promote seepage if nothing else. Besides, I wouldn't keep 'em in the barrel for extended periods due to oxidation and contamination risks, but thats just me. I'm hoping to getting a small brew-party going and making a barleywine for an oak cask, two or three of us brewing to make a good batch to kask, and let that baby age.... mmmmmmmm beeer....
Carbonating? Pressure? Just trying to keep it blanketed for the reasons you state, (O2 and etc.) No pressurizing at all, it is for aging.;)
BTW, still looking for a barrel, have contacted a local distillery.
 

dragonlor20

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Carbonating? Pressure? Just trying to keep it blanketed for the reasons you state, (O2 and etc.) No pressurizing at all, it is for aging.;)
BTW, still looking for a barrel, have contacted a local distillery.
Any updates on if this was completed or how it turned out?
 
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COLObrewer

COLObrewer

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Any updates on if this was completed or how it turned out?
Got sidetracked with many other things. I have procured a half barrel, it still has the red wine stain/crust in it. Maybe next year, heheh.
 

ThreeDogsNE

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The joints between the staves of that half barrel pictured are not likely to be watertight much above the banding, if there. Note that the banding on the end is heavy, holding the wood tightly together to seal the joints. The other bands maintain the barrel shape, but are not as heavily loaded. Cutting the barrel in half creates a bunch of new ends to compress. They are not compressed above the banding. You will need to cut it down to near the bands to get a decent seal. I don't envy you the task of getting that cut straight enough to be able to seal. Trying to make it into a clean watertight container in which your beer will age safely sounds like more effort and risk than I would want to take on.

Personally, I would cut it up as a lifetime supply of oak cubes, to be added to Cornie kegs for aging. That, or use it as a planter for a hops bine.
 
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