Author Topic: Rejuvenating Spirit Barrels  (Read 682 times)

Offline jshell

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Rejuvenating Spirit Barrels
« on: September 29, 2016, 01:46:38 PM »
I recently acquired two used bourbon barrels from a local distillery. Both barrels are dry and require rehydrating having sat at the distillery for some time before they sold to homebrewers. One of them has a light bourbon smell to it still while dry, while the other does not. I'm thinking of rehydrating both with water until the point they don't leak, and then a handle of spirits each to let them soak up some spirit character again/disinfect them prior to adding beer for aging. I am considering adding tequila to the one that has less of a smell to it to change the profile from bourbon to tequila, or even pick up some slight bourbon character to complement the tequila. My questions are, is it viable to change the spirits profile of a barrel like that, and how long can I keep re-spiriting a barrel to rejuvenate character out of it before it becomes non-viable and then I should turn it into just a barrel for aging my sour beers in?

Offline jim atlas

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Re: Rejuvenating Spirit Barrels
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2016, 03:52:34 AM »
If you fill them with water and soak them for any real amount of time, you'll strip whatever flavor in them out.   Try soaking the outside several times.  Then put a few gallons of hot water in and bung up tight with a rubber/silicon bung.  Wait a few minutes for the water to cool then remove the bung.  Of you hear a vacuum, then the barrel won't leak.  If there isn't a vacuum, then try to locate the leak etc. 
Filling and soaking is a last resort.

Don't be surprised if you get quite a bit of flavor from the "neutral" barrel.  Beer, even the most aggressive ones, is real delicate. 
But to respirit a barrel, I suggest 1/2-3/4 of a fifth .