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Rinse new barrel before use?

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STMF

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Hi,
I just ordered a new French oak barrel (small one, 4 gallon). I think I have read or heard that there will be too much oak flavour in a new and small barrel for longer time storage.

My plan is to use it for a Flanders Red, probably blending it before it goes to bottle.
I wonder if I should rinse it good a few times before use? Would it be a good idea to let the beer sit longer in another vessel before putting it in the barrel?

I understand that I have to taste it to know when it is "ready" but I would like to be able to store it for quite some time and then take some out, blend it and top the barrel up. Would there be any use in rinsing it with a little bit of wine in the end before use or is that just a waste?


What have you done or would you do?
Regards
 

cactusgarrett

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One stop shop for all things barrel related:
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Barrel

If you're getting it NEW new, it's probably dry. You'll have to do a rehydrating soak (or steam if you have the capability, but not many homebrewers do) to swell and seal the leaks. I would suggest doing a hot (180°F) water soak to swell and knock down some of the new-oak flavor. After that, I would recommend running a few clean beers through the barrel before using it for long-term sour storage. This will also knock down some of the harshness related to newness. Once clean and sealed, you can put a handle of cheap liquor of choice or wine and rotate to allow for a little bit of that flavor to impart into the wood. Don't expect TOO much, though, but the amount will depend on the level of char in your barrel. For a clean beer in a 4gal new barrel, I would expect an aging time of around 4 weeks.

After a few clean beers have been through, you might want to think about waxing the barrel. Rationale:
If you're planning on doing sours with it, you're likely talking long-term storage. Because this is a smaller barrel, the surface-to-volume ratio is much higher than in larger barrels (ie. more contact area). This is likely to expose any stored beer to much more oxygen, and waxing will seal it up to prevent over-oxidation.
 
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STMF

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Thank you very much for your informative response. It is greatly appriciated.
 
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