Author Topic: Barrel aging questions  (Read 8447 times)

Offline daft_brew

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Barrel aging questions
« on: September 10, 2011, 10:39:57 AM »
Ok, so, I've been trying to find answers to this, but nothing has really popped out. Say I want to age beer in some whiskey barrels. One, after I've aged them for x amount of months to years, can I re-use them to age another batch? I'm assuming after all that time that the beer would have pulled all the properties and characteristics of the whiskey out of the wood, thereby replacing it with the characteristics of the beer. And two, how do you go about properly cleaning the barrels for sanitation purposes without removing the flavors of the whiskey and having the wood absorb the cleaner?

Mercy is appreciated, for this is my first post.

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 11:39:53 AM »
Ok, so, I've been trying to find answers to this, but nothing has really popped out. Say I want to age beer in some whiskey barrels. One, after I've aged them for x amount of months to years, can I re-use them to age another batch? I'm assuming after all that time that the beer would have pulled all the properties and characteristics of the whiskey out of the wood, thereby replacing it with the characteristics of the beer. And two, how do you go about properly cleaning the barrels for sanitation purposes without removing the flavors of the whiskey and having the wood absorb the cleaner?

Mercy is appreciated, for this is my first post.
1st off Welcome to the forum and especially this little corner of the forum.   I don't think you will get flamed for much around here except blatant badness. If you are trying to conserve your barrel, it is true that the wood will impart less and less flavor over time. However the integrity of the wood will remain and it will be a functional aging vessel as long as it does not leak your
beer out. That said, when the flavors diminish from the wood, you can venture off into sour beer land and get many more
good journeys out of the cask. Read about those adventures on the mad fermentatialist's blog and or burgundian babble belt site.

If your barrel held whiskey and is a fresh dump the alcohol from the booze will sanatize the interior. If It were me, I would just add more whiskey to the barrel and slosh it around a bit....good to go...if I were worried about  sanatization.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2011, 11:42:26 AM »
Ok, so, I've been trying to find answers to this, but nothing has really popped out. Say I want to age beer in some whiskey barrels. One, after I've aged them for x amount of months to years, can I re-use them to age another batch? I'm assuming after all that time that the beer would have pulled all the properties and characteristics of the whiskey out of the wood, thereby replacing it with the characteristics of the beer. And two, how do you go about properly cleaning the barrels for sanitation purposes without removing the flavors of the whiskey and having the wood absorb the cleaner?

Mercy is appreciated, for this is my first post.
Welcome to the nice, polite AHA forum.  You'll like it here once you figure out the inside jokes.
If you get a fresh whiskey barrel, then you won't need to do much sanitation: just add beer.
If it is an older barrel that has been in storage for a while you will have to hydrate it so the wood will swell up enough to hold liquid.  These barrels hold 53 gallons so that would take a lot of sanitizer.  Try to find a fresh one with some whiskey still in it.  
It will lose some of the character each time you reuse it, but you can always add some whiskey to a barrel to rinse it out and sanitize it before adding beer.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline daft_brew

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 09:38:10 AM »
Thanks for the kindness :) I've been lurking for a while but I'm literally overflowing with ideas that I want to try but are still a ways off. This info definitely helps. Do you think it would be possible to replicate this kind of aging on a smaller scale by buying several smaller french oak barrels and filling them with premium spirits for, say, 6 months or so, then emptying and refilling with beer? I'm trying to get both a big picture and smaller scale idea here.

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 10:04:14 AM »
Well I have seen how the Big Boys do it in the Commercial arena.
I am small potatoes compared to that but I may have more Love in my barrel...lol.
I cannot brew enough to fill a big barrel so I dealt with a 10 gallon (50 liter)

Here is a project that is ongoing as I type and you may find it of interest or have seen it go past.
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1746.msg46814#msg46814
google that "solera" term.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 10:36:40 AM »
Try out the infusion spirals.  They provide a lot of surface area and I think fit into a carboy opening.  Our local brewery (Cigar City) uses these in their bright tanks for wood aging some of their beers.  They also use a variety of spirits barrels for one-off beers. 
I have a small oak barrel also, but it has been infected with an acetic bacteria and that is tough to get rid of.  Boiling water is the most effective cleaner for that I am told.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2011, 07:20:09 PM »
Try out the infusion spirals.  They provide a lot of surface area and I think fit into a carboy opening.  Our local brewery (Cigar City) uses these in their bright tanks for wood aging some of their beers.  They also use a variety of spirits barrels for one-off beers. 
I have a small oak barrel also, but it has been infected with an acetic bacteria and that is tough to get rid of.  Boiling water is the most effective cleaner for that I am told.
personally if I get acetobacter infection in a wooden vessel, it is time to make it into a vinegar cask or a rain barrel...or firewood.
i have realized all the work that maintaining a barrel brings a body. it is truly a labor of love as you become tethered to the
thing and must keep it full....full....full....full....full....well you get my meaning.
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Offline daft_brew

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 11:07:04 AM »
Thank you all for the information. I'm all for trying that solera contraption. I could use some bodybuilding...

Online mtnrockhopper

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2011, 07:43:01 AM »
There is a sulfur candle that winemakers use to sanitize barrels, but I agree that freshly dumped liquor barrels should be pretty clean. 

Good prank - replace your lady's yankee candle with one of those sulfur candles!
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Offline denny

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2011, 08:37:51 AM »
There is a sulfur candle that winemakers use to sanitize barrels

Just ask Gordon how well those work for bourbon barrels....
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2011, 09:58:16 AM »
There is a sulfur candle that winemakers use to sanitize barrels

Just ask Gordon how well those work for bourbon barrels....



??
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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2011, 12:53:25 PM »
There is a sulfur candle that winemakers use to sanitize barrels

Just ask Gordon how well those work for bourbon barrels....




I see nothing wrong. Excellent work.
Jimmy K

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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2011, 01:05:12 PM »
I have an 11gal barrel I use for beer.  You don't need a whiskey barrel, you can always add a little whiskey to get that flavor.  A barrel does more than impart residual whiskey flavors.  It gives tannins and allows for some microoxidation as well as concentrating flavors through evaporation.

You might look for a Hungarian oak wine barrel, they are similar in quality to French oak and cheaper than either French or American.  Try Vadai World Trade Enterprises.  Wine barrels come in different toasts, as opposed to whiskey barrels that are charred on the inside.  The lower heating of wine barrels means you'll get notes like vanilla, coconut, and coffee from the wood.
Lennie
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Offline tygo

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 09:21:58 PM »
I just noticed that is a picture of someone holding that flaming barrel on his back.  That person is a lunatic.

If I were going to buy a new barrel I'd get one of these:  http://morebeer.com/view_product/11051//Wine_Barrel_-_New_Oak_-__Vadai_Hungarian_-_50L_13.2gal
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Barrel aging questions
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2011, 09:46:08 PM »
I have an 11gal barrel I use for beer.  You don't need a whiskey barrel, you can always add a little whiskey to get that flavor.  A barrel does more than impart residual whiskey flavors.  It gives tannins and allows for some microoxidation as well as concentrating flavors through evaporation.

You might look for a Hungarian oak wine barrel, they are similar in quality to French oak and cheaper than either French or American.  Try Vadai World Trade Enterprises.  Wine barrels come in different toasts, as opposed to whiskey barrels that are charred on the inside.  The lower heating of wine barrels means you'll get notes like vanilla, coconut, and coffee from the wood.
+1 to Vadai. Sandor gave me one heck of a good deal on my fresh dumped...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2011, 10:08:19 PM by 1vertical »
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