Author Topic: Barrels  (Read 865 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Barrels
« on: February 17, 2015, 02:40:51 AM »
Would a barrel ever be a wise investment for a rookie all grain gent like myself? I came across this ad today here on the forums and it caught my eye.

Without REALLY going down the rabbit hole, can a barrel aged beer (on the homebrew scale) make for a tasty beer vs. traditional fermentation?

http://www.woodinvillewhiskeyco.com/barrels/

Offline rjharper

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2015, 02:56:55 AM »
I'm sure a barrel could be a lot of fun, but they take a little work, and they are spendy.  Personally I'm much happier using cubes soaked in whatever liquor I want. Waaaaaaaaay cheaper and easier :)

Offline coolman26

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2015, 03:18:49 AM »
And those barrels are way high IMO. Plenty of other places that have them for less.  I'm liking the oak spirals from the barrel mill.   
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2015, 01:17:31 PM »
I'm sure a barrel could be a lot of fun, but they take a little work, and they are spendy.  Personally I'm much happier using cubes soaked in whatever liquor I want. Waaaaaaaaay cheaper and easier :)

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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2015, 02:35:11 PM »
A wise old homebrewer once told me this: focus on making great beer first, then start making weird beers.

I see his point in that there is no reason to make a barrel aged Barleywine or whatever if you can't make a great Barleywine to begin with.

And fwiw, I still haven't made it to the weird beer stage. ;)


I would also like to third the cubes and spirals comment.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2015, 02:38:19 PM by AmandaK »
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2015, 03:17:28 PM »
I bought two of those Woodinville barrels. Mine were from Rye whiskey. So I decided to make a Rye Barleywine and a Rye Imperial Stout to put in them.

They are an absolutely great investment and you can use them over and over again (though the best whiskey flavor will be after they are initially dumped.) You can even use them for fermentors since the are 8 gallons. You can turn it into a sour project at some point in time after you get bored.

Just be sure to check the beer regularly as it ages. Because of the greater surface are you will pick up the flavors very quickly. A 5 gallon bbl I used a few years ago gave a RIS a great, deep barrel flavor after only 2-3 weeks.

BTW: These barrels smelled fan-damn-tastic!
« Last Edit: February 17, 2015, 03:48:46 PM by majorvices »

Offline smkranz

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2015, 08:22:36 PM »
I bought two of those Woodinville barrels. Mine were from Rye whiskey. So I decided to make a Rye Barleywine and a Rye Imperial Stout to put in them.

They are an absolutely great investment and you can use them over and over again (though the best whiskey flavor will be after they are initially dumped.) You can even use them for fermentors since the are 8 gallons. You can turn it into a sour project at some point in time after you get bored.

Just be sure to check the beer regularly as it ages. Because of the greater surface are you will pick up the flavors very quickly. A 5 gallon bbl I used a few years ago gave a RIS a great, deep barrel flavor after only 2-3 weeks.

BTW: These barrels smelled fan-damn-tastic!

Couldn't agree with you more.  I have used Woodinville's Bourbon and Rye barrels with great success, and they are absolutely no work.  Several of our club members just ordered more of them, and the per-unit shipping cost went down just enough (from about $45 each to about $30) to rationalize the purchase.  This will be my 4th Woodinville barrel.  Someone once asked me whether these barrels are worth the cost.  My answer was (and is) that I can rationalize pretty much any homebrewing purchase that I can get past my spouse and into the door.

I've never used them for primary, and have only aged beer and mead that was already fully fermented.  No rinsing or cleaning between batches, I just dump and fill.  After the third or fourth beer (they are fabulous for aging mead as well), they're perfect for making sours.

If you get enough folks in a club interested, they'll quote you a volume discount, but then they'll ship on a pallet and you need to have them shipped to a location (e.g. homebrew shop, brewery) with a receiving dock.  We did that a few years ago, and people liked them so much, the homebrew shop where we shipped them has since bought them for their own stock.
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Offline Pinski

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2015, 09:30:18 PM »
I bought two of those Woodinville barrels. Mine were from Rye whiskey. So I decided to make a Rye Barleywine and a Rye Imperial Stout to put in them.

They are an absolutely great investment and you can use them over and over again (though the best whiskey flavor will be after they are initially dumped.) You can even use them for fermentors since the are 8 gallons. You can turn it into a sour project at some point in time after you get bored.

Just be sure to check the beer regularly as it ages. Because of the greater surface are you will pick up the flavors very quickly. A 5 gallon bbl I used a few years ago gave a RIS a great, deep barrel flavor after only 2-3 weeks.

BTW: These barrels smelled fan-damn-tastic!

No doubt. My first Woodinville barrel just showed up at the house last night. Perfect size and smells fantastic. Can't wait to fill the thing with Imperial Porter this weekend. 
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Offline The Naked Brewer

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2015, 12:57:38 AM »
I just received one (rye) last week and am really excited to fill it.  The hardest part is picking the first beer to go into it....barley wine, wee heavy, imperial stout, imperial porter.  It's a good problem to have!

Offline bengelbrau

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2015, 02:43:11 AM »
I also had to ask myself if I could really tell the difference between oak chips and barrel aging. My palate is not keen enough to spend the hassle and expense. Besides, I have about 15 pounds of medium toast French chips left from when I was fermenting 1500 pounds of grapes a year.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2015, 12:37:37 PM »
I also had to ask myself if I could really tell the difference between oak chips and barrel aging. My palate is not keen enough to spend the hassle and expense. Besides, I have about 15 pounds of medium toast French chips left from when I was fermenting 1500 pounds of grapes a year.

There is a difference. The oak chips add oak flavor while aging in a barrel gives almost a sense of sticking your nose in a barrel. Smell your chips, then smell the inside of a barrel and see if you don't think there is a huge difference.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2015, 04:07:07 PM »
Brewing beer for barrels is a technique in its own right to make really great barrel aged beer. You've probably had a barrel aged beer or two where a brewery put something in the barrel that was overwhelmed by the barrel character or clashed with what the barrel brought. I'd encourage you to focus on making great all grain beer first and pick up a barrel down the road once you've mastered all grain.
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Offline smkranz

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2015, 05:55:05 PM »
Brewing beer for barrels is a technique in its own right to make really great barrel aged beer. You've probably had a barrel aged beer or two where a brewery put something in the barrel that was overwhelmed by the barrel character or clashed with what the barrel brought. I'd encourage you to focus on making great all grain beer first and pick up a barrel down the road once you've mastered all grain.

It's really not complicated.  Get a barrel and go.  I've barrel-aged an IPA, an American Brown Ale, Saisons, a Biere de Garde (an extract), a Russian Imperial Stout, several Belgian Dark Strongs (extract and all-grain versions), and several meads.  They're all great.  For the Woodinville Bourbon barrel which arrived last week I'm thinking maybe a Scottish ale of some sort.
  • Brew what you like.  All-grain or extract.  Fully ferment it, and if it tastes good...
  • Rack it into the barrel.  Fill it up to the top.
  • Taste it after a week or two, and when it has the barrel character you like, pull it.  If you leave it in longer than you should have, you can always blend a second batch into it to adjust.
  • Repeat.
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Offline rjharper

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2015, 07:22:52 AM »
I also had to ask myself if I could really tell the difference between oak chips and barrel aging. My palate is not keen enough to spend the hassle and expense. Besides, I have about 15 pounds of medium toast French chips left from when I was fermenting 1500 pounds of grapes a year.

There is a difference. The oak chips add oak flavor while aging in a barrel gives almost a sense of sticking your nose in a barrel. Smell your chips, then smell the inside of a barrel and see if you don't think there is a huge difference.

Agreed, but I get round that by soaking the oak in liquor. At any given time, I've proabably got jars of 2oz of oak cubes each, filled with bourbon, spiced rum or cherry brandy etc. I'll just dump the entire contents into the keg when I want that particular flavor.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Barrels
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2015, 12:23:04 PM »
I think you can get close with that technique but there something still missing. To me the difference is like smelling toasted oak and sticking your head in a barrel. I don't know how else to explain it. The barrel adds a depth of complexity you can't get with oak soaked in spirits.