Oak Barrel Aging

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

abdoyle

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
Philadelphia
I'm in the process of making a batch of brewer's best "whiskey barrel stout". the ingredient pack contains some charred wood chips, but i have a 5 gal oak barrel i've been thinking about putting to work. currently the only thing thats been in the barrel has been bourbon. has anybody had any experience aging beer in barrels? my main concern is the clean up of the barrel. after aging i'm sure to get spent yeast and some additional settling of particles on the bottom of the barrel. i'm concerned about the settled yeast/particles damaging the barrels, but i could be completely wrong. any input?
 

Sippin37

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2010
Messages
1,025
Reaction score
39
Location
Chicago
I know most secondary in the barrel so there shouldn't be much concern about yeast/trub collecting in the bottom. Even so that won't ruin the barrel at all. Google homebrewing bourbon barrel or something along those lines, there are plenty of blogs that will give you some good info.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,357
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Redding Ca
I have a few barrels that I have used for years. I have re-coopered them and then reused them many times. I love barrel aging. What I do is primary for at least 3 weeks. I normally go 4 if I am going to barrel age. Transfer to secondary and let settle for at least 24 hours then transfer to my barrel. Remember it is going to pick up flavor FAST!!! you need to start tasting this after a week, when you LOVE it give it 1 more day then transfer into keg. If you bottle add priming sugar and MORE YEAST! Then rinse the barrel out with warm water several times and what I did is bought 3 gallons of cheep ass Black velvet to put in the barrel to keep the barrel wet when not in use. After the BV sits in there for about 6 months you could sell it for $100 a bottle! Its AMAZING!!!! you can use the barrel a few times before you need to re-cooper it again. Every time its used it will take a little longer to get the same oak/vanilla/caramel/bourbon flavor..

Happy Barreling!

Cheers
Jay
 

ndinh

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
236
Reaction score
28
Location
Los Angeles
I just barreled a Belgian Tripel and it turned out great....a bit boozy but great nonetheless. I put a bottle of bourbon in it and let that sit for a couple of weeks. After 2 weeks in primary, I transferred the beer over and left it for another 2 weeks in the barrel (bourbon removed). It's been in a keg for about 2 weeks and has finally smoothen out a little. I used hot water to rinse and am keeping a bottle of bourbon in there to keep it wet and sanitized. The bourbon will kill off everything.
 

pvault98

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
206
Reaction score
13
Location
Altadena
.... you can use the barrel a few times before you need to re-cooper it again. Every time its used it will take a little longer to get the same oak/vanilla/caramel/bourbon flavor..

Happy Barreling!

Cheers
Jay
Jay, how do you recooper the barrel? I was just doing a little google searching and couldn't find anything on it and I don't really want to disassemble my barrel and not be able to put it back together again. Any info would be greatly appreciated!
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,357
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Redding Ca
Oh you bet. This is the EASY way. I have done it with a FULL tear down but this works just as good and is SIMPLE! What I was pull the rings off 1 end and remove the cap. then put the rings back on and tight. This is VERY important as you are going to be burning the CRAP out of this barrel and the edges of the staves cannot get burned and need to be tight as hell so the flame does NOT get to the edges of the staves. Then you can get in there and scrap out the old char. I used a 4" grinder and a stainless wire wheel. There are several ways you can do this. You can burn it with a torch or ask 1 of your distilling buddies to give you a 1/2 cup of their 190 proof moonshine toss it in the barrel and light. Let it burn for about 3-4 min (till you see a light alligator char start to form) then put out with your garden hose douse it REALLY REALLY well! Use your torch to do the lid you took off. You want to get it to whats called light alligator char. When you see it you will know what it is. Pull the rings put your cap back on, hammer on the rings and water test. if it leaks fill with water until the leaks stop. It really is that simple. I have reworked 1 of my barrels 3 times the last time I did a full tare down. To do that you just want to number one end of every stave so it will go back together easy. Then scrape and sand the inside of each stave. STAY AWAY FROM THE SIDES! There is no need to touch those and if you do you will have a BITCH of a time getting it to stop leaking.
Let me know if you need any further help. It was a blast..

Cheers
Jay
 

pvault98

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
206
Reaction score
13
Location
Altadena
Awesome thanks Jay, really appreciate this info. I still have one or two uses left before I need to do this, but it is great to hear it is possible to do on your own.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,357
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Redding Ca
You bet. I should do a YouTube video of it the next time I tear one apart. It really is fairly easy. Just know if you do FK it up. Baaaa Its just a barrel. and you got your use out of it anyway...



Cheers
Jay
 

BadNewsBrewery

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
1,255
Reaction score
147
Location
Annandale
Please do a youtube video - I'd watch it!

As for the barrel - I should keep bourbon in mine, but I typically keep a holding solution of citric acid, potassium metabisulfite, and water - like this. They also have a good cleaning solution in there. Just make sure you get it really really clean. Trying to get crap out of the barrel is definitely difficult if it gets a film of gunk.

As for aging - others have said it, but it gets oaky QUICK so be on the lookout and taste your beer frequently.

Lastly, make sure you fill the barrel completely with water prior to adding anything and confirm it doesn't leak. Until they swell up, they can leak like a siv, and you don't want that to happen with your tasty beer.
-Kevin
 
OP
A

abdoyle

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
Philadelphia
i'm about a week and a half from transferring my brew to the barrel. my next question is should i use an airlock on the barrel or will it be ok with the regular barrel plug?
 

pvault98

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
206
Reaction score
13
Location
Altadena
i'm about a week and a half from transferring my brew to the barrel. my next question is should i use an airlock on the barrel or will it be ok with the regular barrel plug?
use an airlock, it will off gas if nothing else. also keep in mind that all wood has the potential of having brett in it, even if you didn't pitch it so there is also the chance of having brett working on your wort.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,357
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Redding Ca
i'm about a week and a half from transferring my brew to the barrel. my next question is should i use an airlock on the barrel or will it be ok with the regular barrel plug?
I personally don't use an air lock. But I do transfer to a secondary for a very short while before I transfer the the barrel. Also I forgot to add. I purge the barrel with CO2 pryer to adding the beer. My solid silicone bungs stay put. I can see where an air lock might be a good idea for the first few days though.

Cheers
Jay
 
Top