Just a WAG, but maybe it is a pellicle with lots of hops in it?
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I've had plenty of success with oak cubes soaked in my liquor of choice. It's a whole lot easier than messing with barrels
this is part of my point. part of barrel aged character as opposed to wood aged character is the micro oxygenation that happens. This takes time to occur and will be different in a plastic, glass, or stainless vessel than it would in a wooden vessel.
that being said, working with barrels is pretty easy once you've set it all up. I spent a pleasant afternoon 'painting' my barrel with melted bees wax and since then it has been no work at all.