Author Topic: Advice on barrels  (Read 4439 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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Advice on barrels
« on: October 17, 2011, 03:43:01 PM »
So I am getting one of those 20L whisky barrels that were posted on here a while ago. Should be here in about a week or two. I was hopeing to brew a smaller beer as a starter this last weekend but ingredients didn't make it in time so that got pushed back to this coming weekend.

The small beer is a 1.034 heather ale and I will be putting a 1.110 Barley wine on the cake hopefully the next weekend (I know 1 week is pushing it even for a small beer, but it should be doable) The barley wine on the other hand will take several weeks to work it's way through primary I would imagine.

finally the question. If I get the barrel a week or two before the BW is ready to go in what do I do to keep the barrel fresh. It's a fresh dump (will go on the truck just a day or so after dumping) so I will be getting a barrel only a week or so from being full.

My options as I see them are

1) I have 1 gallon of the same recipe barley wine at teh end of it's primary that I could toss in there as soon as it arrives. I would then turn the barrel every day to keep all surfaces moist (that is a really dirty sounding word isn't it?)
2) wrap the barrel in plastic (or leave it wrapped if it comes that way) until I have 5 gallons to fill it
3) fill it with water and camden till the BW is ready (I don't like this option as I would imagine it would wash away alot of the tasty whisky flavour)
4) I will be partigyleing the BW and the small beer will probably be ready in about a week (or for that matter the heather ale) so I could put one of those in the barrel but I would think that a) it would be totally overwhelmed by the oak/whisky and b) I would lose alot of whisky flavour to the smaller beer.

Other ideas? Suggestions? advice?
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2011, 04:47:48 PM »
Best not to fill it with water, camden tablet or not.  You'll lose too much character. 
Set the barrel on it's end and pour some water onto the top of it, where it can collect and keep the wood from drying out.  Keep it inside, out of the sun if you can.  It should be fine for a few weeks.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 04:53:31 PM »
Yeah, that or soak it in a tub of water so it stays tight.  Maybe put it in a shower and run water over it every day.
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 09:44:30 PM »
It will be ok. RDWAHAHB.  I would get some more whiskey like what was in the thing
or something mellow like crown royal...
and add it back to the barrel...keep moving it around...inside the thing until you are ready.
It won't keep forever like this but you should be ok for a week or so...
No campden for sure.  and No sulfur strip!  I would also refrain from using plastic to wrap it
as well...if the humidity raises inside the plastic it becomes a perfect environment for molds and
other bad things...Right before you use it, you could do a boiliing hot water soak to check for leaks,
the hot water will serve to swell the wood as well. Dump that water after no more than a few minutes
just to check for leaking.....immediately fill with your beer. Just my 2 cents.
read this...it is good advice....
http://www.vadaiwinebarrels.com/index.asp?action=page&name=23

Edit: note that those instructions are for a new oak bbl...yours is already somewhat conditioned.
welcome to the world of " hey...I gotta brew....gotta keep my barrel full."   ;D :D :D
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 09:51:39 PM by 1vertical »
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2011, 07:43:09 AM »
It will be ok. RDWAHAHB.  I would get some more whiskey like what was in the thing
or something mellow like crown royal...
and add it back to the barrel...keep moving it around...inside the thing until you are ready.
It won't keep forever like this but you should be ok for a week or so...
No campden for sure.  and No sulfur strip!  I would also refrain from using plastic to wrap it
as well...if the humidity raises inside the plastic it becomes a perfect environment for molds and
other bad things...Right before you use it, you could do a boiliing hot water soak to check for leaks,
the hot water will serve to swell the wood as well. Dump that water after no more than a few minutes
just to check for leaking.....immediately fill with your beer. Just my 2 cents.
read this...it is good advice....
http://www.vadaiwinebarrels.com/index.asp?action=page&name=23

Edit: note that those instructions are for a new oak bbl...yours is already somewhat conditioned.
welcome to the world of " hey...I gotta brew....gotta keep my barrel full."   ;D :D :D

Cool, thanks for the advice all!

1Vert - I hear that. Havn't even recieved the barrel yet and already thinking that way. I figure I'll fill it with this BW, maybe another one or two, maybe squeeze in an RIS before it goes sour then mini-solera!
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2011, 08:10:30 AM »
Mort, you are gonna need bung plugs straight away. I highly suggest the white silicone style
in the size needed. And get one that is drilled for your airlock too...I have 3 of em...one solid,
one drilled with a single hole and one drilled with 2 holes that I use when racking to a keg.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 08:12:02 AM by 1vertical »
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2011, 08:38:37 AM »
Mort, you are gonna need bung plugs straight away. I highly suggest the white silicone style
in the size needed. And get one that is drilled for your airlock too...I have 3 of em...one solid,
one drilled with a single hole and one drilled with 2 holes that I use when racking to a keg.



Do you ferment in the barrel? Primary or just a 'secondary'? or just the souring step? I will pick up some plugs (just can't bring myself to type bung plugs, woops there I go)
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 08:59:38 AM »
LOL. Mort, I primary in bucket then transfer to the oak. There was still
residual fermentation in the works. And then I put the Bret cultures into
the barrel there was definately fermentation.  During that time I had a bubbler
on the thing. When the bubbler settled down I changed over to the solid bung
to keep any fruit flies...fingers crossed still.....out of the thing. I also spritz the
opening liberally with everclear..every time I even think about opening the thing.

I had to keep the thing full you know, and so I bought a case of negra modelo
and have topped it up with that commercial beer because it is affordable and close
to my base beer in style and design...when I do topping off, it is back to the bubbler
for a while.....I will harvest it again in the new year after I brew 5 gallons of base beer
to utilize to replace the harvested beer...but you see, my bbl is 50 liters...

My concern now, is what has happened to the contents this summer in the warmer
months of storage in my house...I tried to keep it cool as I could.......not planning
on sampling for a few more months.....
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 09:06:50 AM »
Yeah the heat is gonna be an issue next summer. I can fit it in my ferm fridge as long as I don't need to put anything else in there. Guess I will have to brew alot this winter so I don't need to brew in the 100+ summer.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 03:13:30 PM »
Heat is not much of an issue for flavors if you have already fermented the beer before putting it into the bbl.  They have warehouses of whiskey in barns in Kentucky, aging for years.
I learned the trick about adding water to the top of an upturned bbl while touring a distillery in Denver.  They said it worked just fine to keep the barrel hydrated.
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 morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2011, 08:53:59 AM »
Heat is not much of an issue for flavors if you have already fermented the beer before putting it into the bbl.  They have warehouses of whiskey in barns in Kentucky, aging for years.
I learned the trick about adding water to the top of an upturned bbl while touring a distillery in Denver.  They said it worked just fine to keep the barrel hydrated.

cool that's good to know.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 02:22:48 PM »
Heat is not much of an issue for flavors if you have already fermented the beer before putting it into the bbl.  They have warehouses of whiskey in barns in Kentucky, aging for years.
I learned the trick about adding water to the top of an upturned bbl while touring a distillery in Denver.  They said it worked just fine to keep the barrel hydrated.

cool that's good to know.
I'm not sure what oxidation does to whisky, but it is bad for beer.  And oxidation reactions will occur faster if it is warmer, for what it's worth.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 03:21:28 PM »
Heat is not much of an issue for flavors if you have already fermented the beer before putting it into the bbl.  They have warehouses of whiskey in barns in Kentucky, aging for years.
I learned the trick about adding water to the top of an upturned bbl while touring a distillery in Denver.  They said it worked just fine to keep the barrel hydrated.

cool that's good to know.
I'm not sure what oxidation does to whisky, but it is bad for beer.  And oxidation reactions will occur faster if it is warmer, for what it's worth.

Yeah that's what I was thinking. and barrel aging is partially about oxidation but you don't want it to go to fast. Trying to balance the 'right' amount of oxidation with suficient time to pick up wood/whisky character. This is going to be a learning experience!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 03:24:38 PM »
Taste it often :)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on barrels
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 03:39:48 PM »
Taste it often :)

ahh shucks do I HAVE to? ;D
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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