Author Topic: Oak Barrel situation  (Read 970 times)

Offline VinnyV1981

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Oak Barrel situation
« on: March 22, 2016, 02:04:36 AM »
I just got an oak barrel 5 gallon size from my grandfather. It's old around 50 years or so. I filled it with water yesterday and it was leaking from the staves. I soaked it over night and same problem. I wanted to know if sanding the edge where the staves meet is possible. I really want to put a batch of some dark beer in there it smells like my childhood.


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Offline wingnut

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2016, 11:17:32 AM »
Looks like try filling and draining multiple times..

https://www.bluegrassbarrels.com/frequently-asked-barrel-aging-questions


My concern is if you sand the staves you will have to tighten the hoops, or they will never butt up to eachother again, or you could inadvertantly change their shape enough that they will no longer work correctly.  I have not heard of any copperages sanding staves, they just wedge them together inside the hoops and then tap the hoops into place.

There is also something called "barrel wax".   I have not used it, but it is reported to reduce oxidation by preventing gas exchange through the stave gaps.   

Good luck!
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2016, 11:48:20 AM »
Sanding the staves won't do anything but make the problem worse. Try hot water, like 180 degrees. Just understand these things don't generally last 50 years unless kept killed regularly.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2016, 03:31:52 PM »
Agree that sanding the staves is not the right course of action. When the staves dry out completely the wood contracts and changes shape in a way that ruins the tight fit that you need for the barrel to stay liquid-tight. Sanding might straighten the edges but would also increase the amount of space between the staves. You would have to remodel the entire barrel to account for the new space.

Soaking with water--for days and a time--both inside and outside might swell the staves back into a tight fit. If you are close to a complete seal then barrel wax or other minor barrel repair options could get you to a good seal.

You also have to wonder what has taken up residence in the wood over time. It might be moldy inside in which case you don't want to use it no matter the seal. Sterilizing the barrel may kill off anything unwelcome in the barrel but not necessary remove any toxins (particularly from the mold) or completely expunge the organic matter that could leave unpleasant flavors. I'd probably take the barrel apart and look at the inside before even committing to trying to get a good seal.
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Offline crakers540

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2016, 01:47:06 AM »
There is a string on this forum that speaks to this.

   Topic: Restoring a very old barrel -- feasible?  (Read 14359 times)

I would do further research via google to see how to properly recondition a barrel.  Since it is small (5 gallons), I think securing the rings properly, then submerging it in a hot water bath (hot enough to kill unwanted microbes and extract unwanted toxins, say 150F or so) would be a good place to start.  Again, google it and see what is truly recommended.

Offline crakers540

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2016, 01:48:03 AM »
Wish I had one to play with. Ageing beer in a barrel would be fun.

Offline VinnyV1981

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2016, 01:37:54 AM »
The barrel sealed with the exception of a slight trickle from the head right below the spigot. I'm gonna try the barrel wax in the groove. Any particular wax I should use? I can't wait to age some dark thick beer in it.


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Offline FaradayUncaged

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Re: Oak Barrel situation
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2016, 12:17:52 PM »
The barrel sealed with the exception of a slight trickle from the head right below the spigot. I'm gonna try the barrel wax in the groove. Any particular wax I should use? I can't wait to age some dark thick beer in it.


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Before purchasing my barrel I read from multiple sources to use the 'barrel wax' previously mentioned or beeswax.  Beeswax seems to be readily available and not too expensive.