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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 05:16:18 PM

Title: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 05:16:18 PM
So we have a few new craft distillers that have popped up in the Chicago area of late and I started to inquire about used barrel availability to age some beers.........

I am specifically looking for the 20L or 5.28 US gal size since that's basically a batch size for me. The first location informed me that they only deal with the 55 gallon size and gave me the name of two other locations to try.

I heard back from one with my inquiry: $150.00 cash for a 20L barrel!!! Seriously? American Oak. When I verified the size at 20L I was kind of blown away and said no thanks I'll keep looking..........

Am I right or wrong that their price seems ridiculous?
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Jeff M on February 01, 2014, 05:23:35 PM
I think the problem is that it takes a cooper about the same amount of time to make a 5g or 55g barrel.  Ive seen prices for new 5g barrels range for about half as much as a 55g barrel.  Considering a 55g barrel takes about 5x as much material as a 5g barrel something is definitely out of sink. 

They may just gouge homebrewers, or they may reuse their barrels and add spirals or chips for new oak character.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 05:32:05 PM
I think the problem is that it takes a cooper about the same amount of time to make a 5g or 55g barrel.  Ive seen prices for new 5g barrels range for about half as much as a 55g barrel.  Considering a 55g barrel takes about 5x as much material as a 5g barrel something is definitely out of sink. 

They may just gouge homebrewers, or they may reuse their barrels and add spirals or chips for new oak character.

Seemed to be a gouge to homebrewers to me, I've seen new small barrels for $125 American oak and they wanted more for a used barrel, I'm still waiting to hear back from the other place I contacted.

Just trying to get a feel for what a reasonable price would be so I know what is realistic if I find one.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 01, 2014, 05:46:21 PM
I paid - well the wife did as presents - around $100 and $120 for new cognac barrels made from French Oak back around 2001-2003 ish. The last time I saw what new ones go for, I though I should have invested in barrel futures.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Pinski on February 01, 2014, 06:10:57 PM
I don't know fellas, If you look at a barrel and think about the material, time and skill that goes in to making one do you really think $100-150 is a gouge?  How much do you suppose you could make one for including consideration of valuable time? 
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 01, 2014, 06:17:59 PM
My neighbor got me one for $90 from here (he bought 3, but only needed 2):

http://www.homebrewing.org/Used-5-gallon-whiskey-barrel_p_2187.html

But they are presently out of stock.  Must be a run on the market!
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Pinski on February 01, 2014, 06:24:53 PM
My neighbor got me one for $90 from here (he bought 3, but only needed 2):

http://www.homebrewing.org/Used-5-gallon-whiskey-barrel_p_2187.html

But they are presently out of stock.  Must be a run on the market!

Not to mention current "aftermarket" demand greater than it's been in recent memory. To my point above.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the cost is cheap. Just another example of supply and demand. Similar to cornies lately.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 06:56:57 PM
My neighbor got me one for $90 from here (he bought 3, but only needed 2):

http://www.homebrewing.org/Used-5-gallon-whiskey-barrel_p_2187.html

But they are presently out of stock.  Must be a run on the market!

Not to mention current "aftermarket" demand greater than it's been in recent memory. To my point above.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the cost is cheap. Just another example of supply and demand. Similar to cornies lately.

I get the supply and demand thing for sure as well as what it takes to make a barrel but we are talking about used barrels, probably more than once and once the distillers are done with them they get rid of them one way or another. It just seems that they are trying to recoup their initial investment on the used market and then their continued use is also finite.

Like I said, if that's the going rate then so be it, I'll take it into consideration, I just wanted to see what others experience is buying them.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Pinski on February 01, 2014, 07:46:37 PM
I'd be interested to know what the distillers pay for new barrels.  As I understand it, they tend to use barrels once as they are after the fresh char and oak characteristics. Us brewers on the other hand want the barrels used from distillers so that we also get the characteristics from the aged spirit.  Our use potential is generally less finite than the distillers from a volume production perspective, especially if we get them soon after they're dumped at the distillery. We've got a barrel at the pub on its 5th batch of barrel aged beer and its still yielding good character.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 01, 2014, 07:50:22 PM
I'd be interested to know what the distillers pay for new barrels.  As I understand it, they tend to use barrels once as they are after the fresh char and oak characteristics. Us brewers on the other hand want the barrels used from distillers so that we also get the characteristics from the aged spirit.  Our use potential is generally less finite than the distillers from a volume production perspective, especially if we get them soon after they're dumped at the distillery. We've got a barrel at the pub on its 5th batch of barrel aged beer and its still yielding good character.

Bourbon must use a new charred oak barrel by law, then it is sold. Many other spirit makers will use those several times more, and can blend from a second use barrel and later uses to get the flavor they want.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 07:51:03 PM
That's my understanding as well and I know a couple local breweries that use the barrels from the distilleries 5-10 times and then get rid of them.

I was offered a 15 gal the other day for $50 but was told it is maybe good for another batch or two of beer aging. Unfortunately that's just too large for my batch size and didn't want to deal with a double batch to fill it.

I figured though if it was $50 a smaller one would be comparable, not 3x the price:)
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 01, 2014, 08:18:13 PM
That's my understanding as well and I know a couple local breweries that use the barrels from the distilleries 5-10 times and then get rid of them.

I was offered a 15 gal the other day for $50 but was told it is maybe good for another batch or two of beer aging. Unfortunately that's just too large for my batch size and didn't want to deal with a double batch to fill it.

I figured though if it was $50 a smaller one would be comparable, not 3x the price:)

If you brew sours, a barrel can last almost forever.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Scot (one T) on February 01, 2014, 08:57:45 PM
I work at a craft distillery and deal with barrel requests on a daily basis.  We use 30 gallon barrels and have a long waiting list for used barrels at $200 a piece.  I guarantee the price of used barrels will not go down with the current demand for them. We don't use smaller barrels so I cannot attest to their price, but the 30 gallon and the 55 gallon barrels are roughly the same price new.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: thirsty on February 01, 2014, 09:31:07 PM
100-150 bucks doesn't seem too crazy for something like that if it's made by hand. I sure as heck wouldn't know how to make my own barrel.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: AmandaK on February 01, 2014, 11:18:58 PM
Oh that's nothing. A local craft distiller here is selling their 10 gallon barrels for $200 and 30s for $260. $150 is a steal.

Sent from my XT1060 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 01, 2014, 11:41:46 PM
Well, based on everyone's input I'll need to reevaluate my budget and desire because I'm not willing to drop 150 on a 20L barrel......
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Joe Sr. on February 01, 2014, 11:44:09 PM
I think $150 is a little high, particularly for pick up.

There's a guy in Milwaukee or Madison who had some he'd ship that came in around that price.  Last time I checked was maybe a year ago.

For the price, I'm sticking with chips and plan to use some cubes or maybe a spiral as well.

Koval is walking distance from me, but they only have much larger barrels than I could use.

15 gallons is not to much to fill if you try.  Double batch it with a concentrated wort and then top up.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: a10t2 on February 01, 2014, 11:44:34 PM
Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Joe Sr. on February 01, 2014, 11:55:46 PM
Farmhouse Brewing Supply is the place I talked to (I searched my old e-mails).

He had rum barrels at the time that were $110 for a 5gal and 150 for a 10 gal.  $17 to ship to Chicago for a 5.

This was 2012, so maybe $150 is fair these days.

The Balcones barrels are supposed to be a good deal.  If you can work out a pallet shipment to Chicago, I'm in.  I've never had a good response from them (or from my LHBS) but others have.
Title: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Stevie on February 02, 2014, 12:24:29 AM
Last time I called balcones they were asking about $90, maybe it was $75, to pickup a barrel. Only issue is they operate on bankers hours and are closed on the weekends. I am only down that way Friday nights or on the weekend. They had rye and rum, but the empties are constantly rotating and often not available at all.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 02, 2014, 12:28:32 AM

Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
ya but they're selling the whiskey for profit already so the overhead is paid for and since they use the barrels more than once(I believe) it's already been paid for even if it was only once
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Stevie on February 02, 2014, 12:36:56 AM


Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
ya but they're selling the whiskey for profit already so the overhead is paid for and since they use the barrels more than once(I believe) it's already been paid for even if it was only once

It's all the demand. 15 years ago fast food places paid somebody to take their frier oil away, now the sell it.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: dkfick on February 02, 2014, 02:25:14 AM
I would add that not all barrels are created equal. The cheap barrels from Balcones are quite thin and allow a lot more O2 transfer. I picked up some from Journeyman and they are about twice as thick. About the same thickness as a full size barrel is made from. I am much more happy with this.  Though I will say I am happily still using my Balcones barrel as well.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: euge on February 02, 2014, 02:44:12 AM
And don't some of these barrels end up with Scotch whiskey maturing in them over thar in Scotland? Gotta be a huge demand with the homebrewers picking around the edges of the market (leftovers).

However, I'm a little shocked actually at the price for the 20L.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: Jeff M on February 02, 2014, 04:00:02 PM

Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
ya but they're selling the whiskey for profit already so the overhead is paid for and since they use the barrels more than once(I believe) it's already been paid for even if it was only once

Im afraid thats not the way capitalism works;)
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 02, 2014, 04:19:39 PM

Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
ya but they're selling the whiskey for profit already so the overhead is paid for and since they use the barrels more than once(I believe) it's already been paid for even if it was only once

Im afraid thats not the way capitalism works;)

Recovering costs from sales of byproducts - every industry tries to do this, plus it could be argued that the bourbon makers are adding value to the barrel, since bourbon barrels are highly sought after by other users.  I am happy with my sole Balcones Barrel.  I hope it will serve my souring needs for quite a while.  Interesting to hear about relative thickness and varying porosity between barrels, I never thought that much about it.  Guess these coopers have quite a skilled trade going...
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on February 02, 2014, 04:46:05 PM
Balcones is probably the cheapest, but not by much, but I believe they are only selling by the pallet these days.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: morticaixavier on February 02, 2014, 05:21:35 PM

Don't forget the price of the whiskey you'd need to fill it with first...
ya but they're selling the whiskey for profit already so the overhead is paid for and since they use the barrels more than once(I believe) it's already been paid for even if it was only once

Im afraid thats not the way capitalism works;)

Recovering costs from sales of byproducts - every industry tries to do this, plus it could be argued that the bourbon makers are adding value to the barrel, since bourbon barrels are highly sought after by other users.  I am happy with my sole Balcones Barrel.  I hope it will serve my souring needs for quite a while.  Interesting to hear about relative thickness and varying porosity between barrels, I never thought that much about it.  Guess these coopers have quite a skilled trade going...

You can alleviate some of the extra o2 concerns by coating the outside of the barrel. I used bees wax but paraffin would work.

If you coat all but the heads it is supposed to be similar to a large barrel. I haven't sampled my sour in a couple months. It's about due.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on February 03, 2014, 03:46:10 PM
And don't some of these barrels end up with Scotch whiskey maturing in them over thar in Scotland? Gotta be a huge demand with the homebrewers picking around the edges of the market (leftovers).

However, I'm a little shocked actually at the price for the 20L.

Tequila distillers also use those used barrels.

I don't think homebrewers are the ones driving up the price on used barrels anywhere near as much as commercial brewers. It seems every start up is going directly into a barrel program even before they have a core line up established.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: denny on February 03, 2014, 04:07:08 PM
Keep looking around and you never know what you'll find.  A guy in our club contacted a distiller in well-known Kentucky.  They not only gave us 2 60 gal. barrels, they also paid the shipping from Kentucky to OR.  Of course that's not going to happen every day, but you never know what you might find.
Title: Re: Shocked at Price! really?
Post by: duboman on February 03, 2014, 09:01:56 PM
Keep looking around and you never know what you'll find.  A guy in our club contacted a distiller in well-known Kentucky.  They not only gave us 2 60 gal. barrels, they also paid the shipping from Kentucky to OR.  Of course that's not going to happen every day, but you never know what you might find.

Yup, I'm continuing to look, in fact I just contacted 2 in Lexington, KY as I will be there in a couple weeks for a college visit with my oldest, Hoping to hear back that they have some for sale at a reasonable price:)