Author Topic: age in 15 gal rye barrell  (Read 544 times)

Offline PANDREWS

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age in 15 gal rye barrell
« on: August 11, 2014, 09:08:35 AM »
Here's a set of questions for everyone.  I have a 15 gallon rye barrel.  I am going to fill it with barleywine.  I think, with the equipment on hand, I can make 10 gallons.  Should I try to make 15 gallons in order to minimize the head space?  Would oxygenation be a problem?  Should I go from primary into secondary, then into the barrel, or primary, into the barrel for a week, then keg it?  I'm thing primary, then a cold secondary, followed by a week in the barrel, then into kegs.  Any thoughts?  Thanks.
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Offline denny

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 10:04:08 AM »
My experience is that you want to minimize the headspace.  Brew 2 10 gal batches on consecutive days.  Use 1/2 of the second batch to fill to 15 gal. and save the rest to top up when the angels take their share.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 10:40:37 AM »
What are you trying to achieve by barrel aging?  In 1 week, you will get maybe a little char plus (plus mixing with any rye slopping around).  You need something like 2-4 months to extract the rye flavors absorbed by the barrel.  If you want wood flavor, you want something like 9 months of aging.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 10:43:35 AM »
fill it to the brim as denny says. save the rest of the second batch in a secondary for top ups as it evaporates or 'evaporates' into your tasting glass. this will also leave you with an un-oaked portion to blend back if you decide want less oak.

no need to secondary before going into the barrel. that is your secondary. you can cold crash for a couple days if you want to drop most of the yeast out but that's not necessary.

leave it in the barrel for a lot longer than a week. you will get mostly rye flavor from the first week. after that for 3-4 weeks you will get harsh tannic wood flavors, then for another 3-4 weeks some of those harsher tannins will drop out and some deeper wood flavors will develop.

If you are an AHA member check out the alternative wood ageing presentation from the 2013 NHC. He goes into detail about the time line for wood ageing. many homebrewers will get scared when they taste the beer after two or three weeks and it's super oaky. but given time those tannins bind with phenols in the beer and drop out. during that time the beer sinks deeper into the wood and begins to extract the really desirable flavors.

smaller barrels do pass o2 faster than larger ones and this is a concern with long ageing on a smaller scale but with a big barley wine it's not going to be much of a problem. a little o2 exposure will actually benefit the beer a lot. if you want to minimize it to more closely emulate a full 31 or 62 gallon barrel you can use paraffin or bees wax to seal some or all of the staves on your barrel to slow down oxygen ingress.

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Offline rjharper

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 11:09:09 AM »
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
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Offline leejoreilly

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 02:23:59 PM »
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

Yeah, but not NEARLY as cool...

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 03:38:11 PM »
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.
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Offline PANDREWS

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 09:56:10 PM »
I thank everyone for for time and input.  I am going to use the barrel, since I already have it.  It will be a fun project building a stand for it.  It is good to know that the beer will change not just in the short term but also in the long term; that the wood flavor has a life cycle also.

Making twenty gallons, barrel aging fifteen, and using the other five to top off might increase my patience - since I can sample from the five gallons.  Let's see, there's the angel's share, and then there is mine.  Or I could use oak chips in it and do a comparison.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2014, 04:14:17 AM »
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.

Interesting to hear about the beeswaxing.  I just do the Solera method, but for those who oak with cubes, chips or spirals, I heard someone (John Palmer or Jamil, maybe?) say that using an oak bung allows for slight oxidation on aged beers in glass.  You need to be a bit of a wood carver to make one, I suppose, but an oak dowel in a rubber bung might get similar results.  For me, I have the barrel and it is working well enough, so I'm sticking with it.
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Offline Steve in TX

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2014, 05:06:08 AM »

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.

Interesting to hear about the beeswaxing.  I just do the Solera method, but for those who oak with cubes, chips or spirals, I heard someone (John Palmer or Jamil, maybe?) say that using an oak bung allows for slight oxidation on aged beers in glass.  You need to be a bit of a wood carver to make one, I suppose, but an oak dowel in a rubber bung might get similar results.  For me, I have the barrel and it is working well enough, so I'm sticking with it.

Jamil recently mentioned that he no longer promotes this method with glass vessels. Wood expands and beer ends up on the floor.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2014, 07:49:32 AM »
I've also never seen anybody say the whole dowel-through-the-stopper thing actually made a noticeable contribution to the beer. At best you get a little oak. At worst you get beer on the floor and a cracked carboy.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2014, 10:54:44 AM »
Interesting to hear that, as well!  Like I said - I'm sticking with my 5 gallon Balcones Bourbon barrel and doing a Solera method for my Flanders batches.  Bretted saison is in glass or a sour-dedicated bucket.  Eventually I may get one of those wide mouth plastic fermenters for fruit beers, but I have enough buckets to justify using them for primary, rather than buying new.

Cheers to the extra info, guys.  I keep learning this hobby, which is part of the fun.  Only a year and a half in on the sours and wood aged beers, (about 8 on regular ales and lagers), so it's good to hear from those of you with more experience.
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