Author Topic: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?  (Read 946 times)

Offline mchrispen

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1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« on: February 24, 2014, 04:03:45 PM »
Hi folks,


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.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 05:12:14 PM »
Consider having some friends help with the first fill. You'll want to full our up at a go.

if it had whiskey in it I'd keep it sealed up tight until you're ready to fill. You can hit it with a fifth of something if you want but you don't really have to.

It's going to get infected sooner rather than later once you start putting beer in it unless you empty it and steam it between uses.

I like the idea of a solera. Get some friends together to fill it. Then once or twice a year pull around half out and replace with new beer. However, unless you introduce bugs it will take a bit to develop.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 05:15:44 PM »
I would certainly not put water into it.  It sounds like it is already hydrated.
As a matter of fact I would probably not refresh it with bourbon either.  There will most likely be a lot of that flavor still in the wood.
Get some friends together and fill it ASAP.  Start with a big beer first and see how it goes.
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Offline Scot (one T)

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 11:10:43 AM »
All good advice. I wouldn't go to the trouble of building a cradle with casters, though.  Go to your local discount tool or home improvement store and pick up a furniture dolly.  They run under $15 and work perfectly.   Position the empty barrel on it and screw/nail a couple of 2x4 s to keep it from rolling.  Less than a 5 minute project.

http://www.harborfreight.com/movers-dolly-93888.html
« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 11:14:08 AM by Scot (one T) »
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 12:53:25 PM »
The furniture dolly is a great idea.


I put a fresh bung into the barrel as soon as it got home - hoping that will help. It is going to get a couple of weeks before I can get it filled up - I have a couple of people recruited.


Every seems to leaning toward a strong dark beer... I still think something like a saison, tripel or strong golden might be interesting. That would at least qualify as a big beer.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 02:12:15 PM »
The big beer will be easier to handle the volume because it will age better. lighter beers like saison will do better once the barrel starts to sour, at least in my opinion smaller beers are better than bigger beers for souring.
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Offline sambates

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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 06:14:37 AM »
If you're opposed to having fifty-some-odd gallons of a dark beer on hand then I'd think about barrel aging a barleywine. It's a lighter beer and it would work well in blending with a variety of beers, both light and dark, to make interesting blends.
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2014, 11:15:15 AM »
I saw Morebeer  document - good advice.


- - -


My first 12 gallon batch of golden strong is slowly fermenting - very slowly. So if this is representative of WLP570 - I need to rethink things.  I was hoping I could move the golden into secondary within two weeks, but at this rate - going to be a month or more. Just upped the temperature to 74F and pitched another large starter to see if it will move along.


Barleywine is an interesting thought, will have to do some reading on yeast and fermentation temp requirements. If something like Notty is appropriate, then at least I am not breaking the bank on vials...

Offline Jeff M

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2014, 12:35:20 PM »
Why not just buy 1 vial and make a starter???
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2014, 01:22:27 PM »
I am currently limited to a 2 liter starter/stir plate, which works, but Mr Malty seems to want 4-5 liters for 12 gallons over 1.080 gravity. So multiple starters are needed... or I need to invest in a 4 liter erlinmeyer and stop being so lazy.


I love dry yeast for the convenience and reliability (esp. Notty). And get frustrated at the costs (relative) for a vial or pouch of liquid. Fully understand the benefits of While Labs and Wyeast - but sometimes I cannot fully plan out a brew day a week in advance. I am cheap enough - I should plan a lot better!

Offline Jeff M

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Re: 1 Use 53 gallon American Oak Toasted Barrel... where to start?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2014, 04:20:40 PM »
I am currently limited to a 2 liter starter/stir plate, which works, but Mr Malty seems to want 4-5 liters for 12 gallons over 1.080 gravity. So multiple starters are needed... or I need to invest in a 4 liter erlinmeyer and stop being so lazy.


I love dry yeast for the convenience and reliability (esp. Notty). And get frustrated at the costs (relative) for a vial or pouch of liquid. Fully understand the benefits of While Labs and Wyeast - but sometimes I cannot fully plan out a brew day a week in advance. I am cheap enough - I should plan a lot better!

Id suggest making a 5g batch and pitching the correct amoutn of slurry into a 12g batch.  Make small batches a natural starter:D  OR go buy a 1g clear jug for 6 dollars and use that!
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!