Author Topic: Problem with Empty Barrels  (Read 663 times)

Offline hopaddicted

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Problem with Empty Barrels
« on: July 09, 2010, 06:06:39 AM »
I read something somewhere (maybe radical brewing), about keeping a used wine barrel (50-60 gallon) empty being an issue. Is it actually an issue to keep a wine barrel empty? If so, how much beer at a minimum should be in there?

I was planning on asking some local wineries for used barrels to store my collection of sours I am looking to start. I was only planning on doing five gallons at a time, then beginning to blend once I got an idea of what my beer tasted like, so that I could tweak the recipe until I eventually had a full barrel of blended ages.

I would wait to start collecting the barrels, but I move with my work potentially every three years or so and am in a very populated quality wine area, so I think it will be fairly easy to find what I am looking for.

Appreciate any suggestions...
Primary: Lambic
Secondary: Oktoberfest, German Pilsner, Double IPA,
In Bottles: Lucknow IPA clone, Rough Rider Brown Ale clone,
John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2010, 06:43:11 AM »
I'm not sure how big a wine bbl is, but a bourbon bbl is 53 gallons and will start to leak if not kept wet.  Not to mention the oxidation you'd get with only five gallons of beer in it.
I revived an old bourbon bbl once by filling it with water, which was at first leaking out through every stave at a gallon every 20 seconds, but sealed up completely in 12 hours.
Maybe if you kept the bbl upright with some water pooled on top of it and some CO2 "layered" on the beer......
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Offline bfogt

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2010, 07:01:06 AM »
I'd think it would be tedious to take a few wine barrels full of liquid with you when you move so often.  You're looking at something designed to stay stationary that is holding at least 425 pounds of liquid.  A moving company wouldn't touch it.

But if you want to store them until your beer is ready to fill them, you're going to need to circulate a solution of Sodium Metabisulphite regularly (3 to 4 months) and you'll leave them full and have to turn them frequently. 

My perception is that used barrels are getting easier and easier to come by.  A place where I'm probably getting a port barrel sells them for $45 but only a couple at a time a few times a year as they bottle their product.  With the microdistillery boom and proliferation of barrel aged beers on the market, it's not difficult to find them anywhere in the country.

Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2010, 12:21:54 PM »
Thanks!

I wasn't really planning on filling them for another year or so, I am just brewing the sours to occupy the barrels and it'll take a while to have sufficient quantity to fill it (and I'd rather have a year of aging to ensure taste is acceptable before I start blending). 20-30G in a 50G barrel should be no problem then right? Not worried about a bit of oxidation.

My next move is likely to be only a few hours away and I am hoping to plant some roots (and some rhisomes) on this next move, as my oldest is almost school age now. I guess I'll hold off a little and rely on plastic fermenters until I have a sufficient quantity ready for the barrels. Probably will pickup a couple of 20G Wine fermenters, so I don't have too many buckets dedicated to Sours.

Is Lacto as much of a brewery contamination risk as Brett, or not really?
Primary: Lambic
Secondary: Oktoberfest, German Pilsner, Double IPA,
In Bottles: Lucknow IPA clone, Rough Rider Brown Ale clone,
John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale

Offline tom

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2010, 05:22:50 PM »
A local microdistillery sells their used 5 gallon barrels. Maybe there's one near you.

When our club bought 2 bourbon barrels we let them dry out and we had to soak them in a baby pool to reseal them.
Brew on

Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2010, 05:56:08 PM »
I may look to 5G barrels for my gose, but wanted something bigger for the lambic and Flanders brown. I have a local winery that I def can get 5G barrels from, my boss (a former homebrewer, and beneficiary of lots of my HB) knows the owner well.

So only issue ultimately of barrel being empty is it drying up and needing to be soaked to seal back up, right?
Primary: Lambic
Secondary: Oktoberfest, German Pilsner, Double IPA,
In Bottles: Lucknow IPA clone, Rough Rider Brown Ale clone,
John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale

Offline tom

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2010, 07:20:29 PM »
That and other bugs getting in to it.
Brew on

Offline bonjour

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2010, 07:23:25 PM »
when bugs get in the wood they stay there.
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Offline pyrite

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2010, 07:23:59 PM »
When my oak barrels are not in use I top them off with water and a solution of citric acid and potassium metabisulfite.  However, people in my homebrew club just burn a sulfur stick to sanitize it while keeping it empty and dry so that the barrel does not loose it's oak or bourbon flavor.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Problem with Empty Barrels
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2010, 10:05:02 PM »
People need to be careful with burning sulfur in a barrel. Anyone who needs to understand why should just ask Gordon.
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