Quantcast

Oak Barrel Musty Smell...

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Component

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Hello,

Found an old 10 gal oak barrel that was previously used for red wine. The barrel was stored empty in a basement for a long time. It's in great condition but the inside smells like old musty basement... Do you think there's a way of cleaning out that smell or should I just it as a decoration? For the moment, I only swelled the barrel to watch for leaks. I've read that people use Sodium Percarbonate to clean barrels but can't seem to find any of that product locally... Would Oxiclean work instead, eventhough it has other ingredients? Thanks for your help :)
 

pursuit0fhoppiness

GTA Brews club member, pharma technologist
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
322
Reaction score
59
Location
Toronto
Musty old basement is just the aroma I love in a sour beer! But seriously, I'd give it a good clean. You don't know what could've started living in there over the years. Don't want to risk a lot of time going down the drain.
 

BrewSomeMore

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
112
Reaction score
28
I agree some must is good. Best to let sit with Citric/Metabisufite solution to get rid of the critters that could really spoil ones batch.
 
OP
C

Component

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
I would use 1 tsp Citric Acid to 2 tsp Potassium Metabisufite per gallon to remove odors. Oxiclean is a no no in wood barrels.
How long should I let it soak? 24hrs? Then rinse 3 times? Thanks again for your precious advice :)
 

BrewSomeMore

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
112
Reaction score
28
I would let sit for a week or so and rinse a couple times if that barrel has been sitting for awhile.
 

Brewsit

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
330
Reaction score
79
Location
Fort Collins
You'll probably have a fun time trying to get it to seal up again... get a walmart kiddy pool for the barrel to sit in on its end, fill with water and start rotating it end to end every day or so until it will hold water :)
 
OP
C

Component

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
You'll probably have a fun time trying to get it to seal up again... get a walmart kiddy pool for the barrel to sit in on its end, fill with water and start rotating it end to end every day or so until it will hold water :)
Good trick, thanks!
 

cactusgarrett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
1,941
Reaction score
609
Location
Madison, WI
get a walmart kiddy pool for the barrel to sit in on its end
Or put it in a laundry room utility tub. One trick I've done, too, is you can taste the rinse water. It doesn't taste "good" by any means, but you can get a feel for what the barrel contribute toward any beer that would go into it. If you can taste "just barrel" or are good with what you taste then you would be good.

This is one of those "what's your time/effort worth" questions. If you dump a ton of time into this and have worries about any beer you plan on putting in, you might be better off just buying a used 10gal barrel from a local distillery for $50-100.
 
OP
C

Component

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the advice :) Indeed, it doesn't make much sense to invest too much time in this project, but it keeps me dreaming of what will happen if it does all work out in the end! Fingers crossed :) Cheers!
 

mashpaddled

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
269
Location
Denver, CO
I'd try a rinse but if it's been sitting for a while and only had wine there's a good chance of mold growing on and into the wood. You should consider taking the barrel apart and sanding down the interior to fresh wood and then give it a soak and sanitizing rinse after putting it back together.
 

Brewsit

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
330
Reaction score
79
Location
Fort Collins
I'd try a rinse but if it's been sitting for a while and only had wine there's a good chance of mold growing on and into the wood. You should consider taking the barrel apart and sanding down the interior to fresh wood and then give it a soak and sanitizing rinse after putting it back together.
I would not do that for a lot of reasons. One, the inside of the barrel is charred and holds the wine character - if you sanded it down to fresh oak you might as well just toss some oak chips in your fermenter and be done. Secondly, taking a barrel apart is a recipe for disaster - getting it put back together properly especially after reshaping the inside, you'll never get it back together properly.

Get some literature on the subject of using barrels with beer - specifically Wood & Beer by Peter Bouckaert is a good place to start.
 

OldDogBrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2020
Messages
383
Reaction score
287
I would not do that for a lot of reasons. One, the inside of the barrel is charred and holds the wine character - if you sanded it down to fresh oak you might as well just toss some oak chips in your fermenter and be done. Secondly, taking a barrel apart is a recipe for disaster - getting it put back together properly especially after reshaping the inside, you'll never get it back together properly.

Get some literature on the subject of using barrels with beer - specifically Wood & Beer by Peter Bouckaert is a good place to start.
You can shave a barrel, rechar and still get some character from the previous beverage in it, Kilchoman has done that in the past with overwhelmingly flavoured red wine barrels, but they are actual professionals when it come to working with wood
 

mashpaddled

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
269
Location
Denver, CO
I would not do that for a lot of reasons. One, the inside of the barrel is charred and holds the wine character - if you sanded it down to fresh oak you might as well just toss some oak chips in your fermenter and be done. Secondly, taking a barrel apart is a recipe for disaster - getting it put back together properly especially after reshaping the inside, you'll never get it back together properly.

Get some literature on the subject of using barrels with beer - specifically Wood & Beer by Peter Bouckaert is a good place to start.
Wine barrels may be toasted but generally not charred. Some are not fired at all. If he wants to hit it with fire again he could easily do that.

Barrels are routinely dismantled, at least partially, for repairs.

You could roll over to Purpose Brewing and ask his thoughts on this particular subject but my guess is that he would say not to even waste time trying to rehabilitate a potentially moldy barrel.
 

Brewsit

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
330
Reaction score
79
Location
Fort Collins
Barrels are routinely dismantled, at least partially, for repairs.

You could roll over to Purpose Brewing and ask his thoughts on this particular subject but my guess is that he would say not to even waste time trying to rehabilitate a potentially moldy barrel.
And those repairs are done by highly qualified coopers... if you can’t name the parts of a barrel off the top of your head, it’s likely you won’t be able to put it back together again.

Peter would tell you to not waste your time on a moldy or tainted barrel. And that any barrel that is not being used needs to be filled with a holding solution.

now, you could take the barrel apart, inspect and cut it up to use oak chips in a fermentor/keg to get a similar result, although probably over a longer period unless the vessel allows micro oxygenation.
 

goodolarchie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
Messages
152
Reaction score
84
3 Weeks later, how's your barrel doing? Rescuing an old dried barrel can be a real struggle, toothpicks and a precision hammer are your friend.

Once you've sufficiently swelled it (which could be 7+ days of continuous hot water fills), the most likely spot you'll see continuous long term leaking is where the head meets the staves. You might grab a big block of paraffin wax and a propane torch, stand it upright on one head, and melt wax into that seam. I've had to do that even on recently dumped wine barrels that have high mileage.
 
OP
C

Component

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Amazingly, it swelled up nicely and stopped leaking after a few days. It's been filled for the last couple of weeks with the above mentionned holding solution. The inside smells pretty decent at the moment. The plan is to use it next week end (if all goes well). I'm tempted of fermenting straight in the barrel, using a starter I made a few weeks ago with Wyeast 3726 combined with the dregs of a few bottles of Oud Beersel Oude Pijpen. Still wondering if I should ferment in stainless first and then transfer to the barrel. What do you think?
 
Top