I just purchased the above from a local craft distiller. This is really a wine barrel (thicker staves) that was used to age 100% corn whiskey. It was dumped about a month ago - but the inside remains somewhat moist. Unfortunately - they really took every bit of the booze out - so I will likely need to hit it with something nuetral to refresh it - and sanitize the interior. The whiskey aroma is not strong at all - but I am sure the first batch will have plenty of whiskey character. The exterior is like new - only a few leak marks around the head which should seal when swelled.
I have a couple of questions:
1.) Should I swell the barrel with water first? (and should I stand my water to prevent chlorine or should that be ok) and then maybe hit it with a liter of something?
2.) Really thinking long term - start with something light - like a saison, biere de guarde or Belgian pale, and perhaps solara this for a couple of years, maybe just until the brett starts peeking in? I know everyone likes RIS or BSGs in these, but that is a LOT of dark heavy beer to deal with... I am happy to blend out of the barrel - so not terribly concerned about too much oak, at least after the first batch moves through.
Will be building a cradle with casters so it can be moved around a bit as needed. This will be in my garage - and subject to Texas summers and winters...
Any advice on getting this setup for success is welcome - I am at about a 12 gallon max batch size, so a LOT of brewing is in my future. I have just enough primary fermentation space to fill half the barrel at a go. Good thing I have a week off coming up! I may have bit off more than I can chew. Excited and a bit scared at the same time.