Membership questions? Log in issues? Email

Author Topic: Whiskey Barrel Beer  (Read 6535 times)

Offline beerpilot

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Whiskey Barrel Beer
« on: December 16, 2010, 12:34:11 pm »
I am ordering two, three gallon oak barrels, not sure yet what they will have had in them. I am pretty certain they will have had some form of spirit, rum, bourbon or rye.  I am interested in any suggestions for recipe's and procedure.  I am assuming that aging should range in the 2 - 4 week range.  I am also thinking an Imperial Stout for the first couple of batches.  Any suggestions?

Offline ghumphrey

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 80
  • Highlands Ranch, CO
Re: Whiskey Barrel Beer
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 11:05:03 am »
I'm sure you've had time to think about this, but a few come to mind.

Wee Heavy, Belgian Dark Strong, Baltic Porter, Imperial Brown, English Barleywine, Traditional Bock, Doppelbock, Eisbock.

As for the aging - longer is better. Our club just drew out a Belgian Dark Strong that aged in a bourbon barrel for nearly 10 months. Prior to that, the barrel housed a RIS for 13 months. Both are excellent beers; nice, oak characteristics come through on both.

Offline onthekeg

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
Re: Whiskey Barrel Beer
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2011, 10:10:18 am »
I wouldn't age too long in those small barrels, there is alot of surface area and it could overpower the beer quickly.  Keep tasting it so you don't go off the deep end.

Offline hoser

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 773
Re: Whiskey Barrel Beer
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 04:12:36 pm »
I know I am late posting to this subject, but I hope you did not order those barrels.  For a barrel that small you are better off using chip, cubes, or a combination of both to achieve your oak aged character.  Surface area is a HUGE deal.  Not only will you impart a large, tannic oaky flavor rapidly into your beer (especially if the barrel is unused).  But, you have a huge exposure to oxygen at a much faster rate in a 3 gallon barrel vs. a 59 gallon barrel.  I know the use of a barrel sounds exciting, but I wouldn't go below 15 gallons, and even then that is a fairly large surface area exposure of beer to oak and oxygen, not to mention the work that goes into prepping the barrel and keeping them clean.  I have been researching this extensively as I am looking into purchasing a barrel myself.  I would read Wild Brews or look into Also, I believe in the last year both BYO and Zymurgy had very good articles on oak aging beer.

Offline tumarkin

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Whiskey Barrel Beer
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2011, 04:41:54 pm »
aging occurs more quickly in a smaller vs more slowly in a larger barrel for the reasons already noted  - more surface area for the quantity of liquid gives more contact with the wood allowing more flavor development & more oxidative process. an interesting side note for this is that in recent years, wine makers are playing with this to their benefit - quicker aging, less long term storage & thus less expense. It's beginning to transfer over to the whisk(e)y industry as well. primarily in the US with some of the artisanal distillers (more experimental, willing to try new things), but is also making inroads in the more traditional Scottish single malt distilleries. for example, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask.
Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline hoser

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 773
Re: Whiskey Barrel Beer
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2011, 06:06:48 pm »
They have the ability to blend that we as small scale homebrewers may not.  Which can correct and compensate for the quicker absorption of oak tannins and oxygen.  I suppose if you are able to place 3 gallons in the oak barrel and save behind another 3 plus gallons of beer, blending is a possibility.