Author Topic: Micro Barrel Aging  (Read 554 times)

saberhagen

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Micro Barrel Aging
« on: December 06, 2013, 07:48:27 AM »
For my anniversary, my wife got me the Woodinville Micro Barrel aging kit for whiskey, because I'm lucky and she's awesome!  It's a 2L miniature barrel that holds two bottles of un-aged whiskey, so you can do tastings of it's progress and bottle it when you reach the desired flavor profile. Very cool!

My first thought upon receiving it was, "How can I age beer in this thing when I'm done!?"

So, any ideas?

My biggest questions are:

1). Increased surface area = accelerated aging time. Whiskey is done in a couple months, so how long should I age the beer?

2). Beer Style suggestions?

3). How do I prime such a small batch ( <2L ) when bottling?

4). Has anyone on here actually done this with a barrel this small?

Thanks, as always, for your collective wisdom!

P.S. Here's a link to the site, if you want to see it: http://www.woodinvillewhiskeyco.com/products/age-your-own-whiskey-kit/

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 07:59:57 AM »
White whiskey?!?  AGHHHHH!!!!

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=17557.msg221634#msg221634

But seriously, IMO you'll need more than a couple months to improve a bottle of white whiskey.  I don't care for the flavors, but there some what do.

Beer style suggestions for oak: Big stouts, old ales, barleywine, anything with strong bold flavors.  I've had oaked Belgians and found them to be nasty.  IMO the flavors don't pair well.

Beer is typically only aged a couple weeks.  Since the barrel you describe allows for tasting, you should begin tasting after maybe a week to 10 days and see where you're at.  I go longer on oak than some, but I seem to have a lower taste threshold for the tannins.

Priming - you can use carb tabs, but I've been unsatisfied with those.  You can also dose each bottle with precise measurements of sugar.  There are calculators for that, but I have no link for you.  Sorry.

I've done all my oaking with oak chips, never with a barrel although I frequently dream of it. 
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Online kramerog

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 08:15:46 AM »
A factor you have not accounted for is volume of beer versus mass of oak.  Your beer is going to see a LOT more oak than beer aged in a 50 gal barrel and probably more alcohol too.  Ultimately, you may find the flavors too strong without blending with non-oaked beer.

Use a carbonation calculator to figure out the amount of sugar.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 08:19:33 AM »
I thought about that, too, when I said a week to 10 days.  That's the time frame I give for 5 gallons.  We're talking WAY less here, both in volume and likely in time.

Maybe this could be a good way to make an oak concentrate for dosing larger batches.
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Online kramerog

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 08:30:14 AM »
The thing about less aging time is that the flavors will be really different.  I got a great tour of Goose Islands barrel aging operations and got to taste the effect of aging for different time periods.  In the first month, the flavors are mostly sweet char flavors.  After that the alcohol becomes dominant.  It takes about 9 months for the oak flavors to come through.  Of course, I'm talking about 50 gal barrels that had bourbon aged in it for 5 years or so.  If the whiskey was barrel aged for less than a year there would be a whole lot more oak flavor still left in the barrel and theat oak flavor may come through a lot quicker.

Yeah, oak concentrate may be the way to go with this stuff.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2013, 08:55:05 AM »
With the small barrel you won't want to age very long, especially since it's a new barrel that will have whiskey in it for a couple months. There will still be a ton of oak flavor left to extract. I would plan on letting the beer sit 1-3 weeks at most and blending the oaked version back into a non-barreled portion or pulling the beer out of the barrel and letting it mellow out in a different vessel before bottling. Obviously with each batch you will need to leave the beer in the barrel longer to pull the same amount of oak flavor...
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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2013, 09:02:02 AM »
I'm going to go against the flow here. I don't know about a 2L barrel but I've done some ageing in my 20L barrel and I find that the oak flavor goes from not enough to enough but not very complex to too much and then the magic happens and it settles in on just right.

From the presentation from 2013 NHC on alternative wood ageing I learned that there are complex reactions that only start to occur after ~6 weeks in the barrel. These reactions cause tannins from the wood to bind with phenols in the beer and get heavy. these will begin to drop out and leave the beer. Meanwhile, as the beer penetrates deeper into the wood it begins to extract different compounds that add complexity to the oak character instead of just more tannin.

over time the heavy tannin-phenol complexes drop to the bottom of the barrel where you can leave them as you rack out.

I aged a small rye stout (1.048ish OG) in my barrel after 2 dumps of spirits and 1 of strong beer for 6 weeks and it was just about perfect. According to all the advice out there though that beer should have been totally un-drinkable by then but it was beautiful.
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saberhagen

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Re: Micro Barrel Aging
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 03:17:41 PM »
Awesome! This has all been great insight. Since there's two basic opinions, I think I'll split the difference. I'll do 6+ weeks, hope it comes out extraordinary, if it's too much, I'll then use it to blend.

No matter what, I'll have fun with it!

I'll post back with the results.

Cheers!