After the first couple of beers (maybe 3) that I put in my fresh barrel I started washing it out with hot water, letting it dry for a few days (with bunghole pointed down), putting a fifth or whatever liquor I want to "refesh" the barrel, letting that soak for a few days, then racking whatever beer I want on that.
So far the barrel has not gone down the "sour" side.
Some examples of what I have done are as follows:
Scotch and Wee Heavy Sherry and Baltic Porter Rye Whiskey and Rye Wine (Barleywine with 30% rye)
I always have one on tap. 70% 6-row, 5% munich, 25% flaked corn. I used to use corn meal and a cereal mash but this last batch I used flaked maize to save time on the brew day. No efficiency difference and I think I like the flavor better. Magnum hops for bittering and MT Hood for FWH and knock-out additions. I keep playing with the IBU's and this last one was around 50 which I think is about right.
The motorized mill at my local homebrew shop doesn't use the sheaves. They have some kind of connection between the motor and the mill that bypasses them. Does anyone have info on motorizing the mill that way?