Author Topic: New to Casks  (Read 1343 times)

Offline Dan

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New to Casks
« on: August 06, 2010, 02:21:35 PM »
I just came back from a trip to Belgium and want to try making some lambics using a similar process that I saw at the Cantillon brewery. Is there a huge difference (besides price) between an american oak barrel and a french oak barrel? Do I need to do anything special to the barrel to season it for the first batch?

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: New to Casks
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2010, 06:47:56 PM »
Cantillon is an inspiration for many, myself included.  I am not a barrel expert, though I have 2 small barrels (7.5 gallons and 5 gallons).

French oak (or European Oak) has a finer grain structure due to a more moderate climate.  It is said to let less O2 diffuse into the beer.  American Oak can have a stronger flavor, but we don't want oak flavor for lambics.

My barrels were new, unused, cognac barrels.  These had to prepared with a sequence of washes with barokleen and water rinses.  You can read about doing this on wine forums, and Jeff Sparrow does have a section on barrels in "WIld Brews" that is a good read on the subject.  At first, the water rinse was yellow from the oak tannins, then less so.  A final rinse with citric acid added (a small %) is recommended to neutralize the caustics in the barokleen.  Due to this product having caustics, wear safety gear, including something for your eyes.

Some put a beer into the barrel to finish the preperation.  A friend used an IPA, in the barrel for a week  When your lambic is ready, take out the Beer and put the lambic in the barrel.  Once bugs and critters  are in there, that barrel is only for lambics.  The bugs and critters will take up residence deep in the wood pores, and can not be cleaned out.  This is what gives the barrels at Cantillon their magic.

The barokleen as shown at midwestsupplies (4 lb) and NorthernBrewer ( 1 lb) NAYY.
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/barolkleen-4-lbs.html
http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/wine-equipment/oak-products/wine-oak-barrels/barolkleen-1.html
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Online 1vertical

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Re: New to Casks
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2010, 09:36:07 PM »
 ::)  Good advise I would say.I would also think about the space where you will keep your barrel.
It needs to be in a compatable temp range.....or once you get the thing full you may wish to transport it
to locations to keep it in the temp range.  Just realize that water weighs 8 lbs a gallon and my 50 liter
weighed 40 lbs empty.  The things are golly heavy when full.  then you must have it elevated or some means
to transfer the liquid in and out of it.  You will want to make your life ez if you can. So put some thought
into logistics that work for you.
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Offline Dan

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Re: New to Casks
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 09:24:28 AM »
Thanks for the good info on barrels and how they're prepared.

1vertical, I've been thinking about the weight of the barrel a lot so September is going to be project month. A buddy and I are going to design a temperature controlled fermentation cabinet large enough to hold the barrel and a stand with wheels.

Online 1vertical

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Re: New to Casks
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 10:07:14 AM »
Dan,
I assume you saw the pic of my rollera....it works pretty well so far...
I gotta harvest a few gallons out of there soon ....getting ready for Kriek Beer....mmmmm
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.