Barrel aged beers

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Barrel aged beers

Unread postby Nesto » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:03 am

A friend has been wanting me to make some barrel aged beers, so he finally just went ahead and bought me a 30 liter (8 gal) bourbon barrel that was (per US law) used once for bourbon and then used a second time to age maple syrup.

I've read the barrel chapter in American Sour Beers (an excellent resource) and have done a lot of googling, so I have my basic plan down. I'll update this thread as I implement it, but the basic plan is...
1. Check for leaks. Rinse and put citric acid/k-meta storage solution in barrel.
2. Beer is still up in the air, but I'm thinking English Barleywine. Have a good recipe already for the base beer.
3. Double brew day/weekend - two batches back-to-back and into primary (conical and carboy).
4. Load barrel with some bourbon to refresh it - probably about a week before the barrel will be filled.
5. Rack to barrel when primary fermentation is complete. Will keg the extra 5 liters for topping up barrel.
6. Check often for oaking since it's a small barrel, it should go quickly.
7. Rack to keg, force carbonate, and bottle!

I'm hoping to get 2 or 3 "regular" beers out of the keg before turning it into a sour barrel. That will be fun! Would love to hear if anyone else has done any barrel aging.
Last edited by Nesto on Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Barrel aged beers

Unread postby niels » Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:05 am

Looks like a solid plan!

It's on my long term planning... I would like to buy a (new) barrel and let my father-in-law fill it up with some of his wine. After aging the wine I could use it for a few batches of beer before turning it into a solera barrel.

Keep us posted on the progress!

- Niels
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Re: Barrel aged beers

Unread postby Luis Coentrao » Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:05 pm

Nesto,
what do you think about oak cubes previously (or not) rinsed with bourbon or something similar, placed in the keg during lagering?
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Re: Barrel aged beers

Unread postby Nesto » Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:19 am

I've had good luck with oak cubes. I have usually soaked them before using. Once in wine, another time in bourbon, and most recently in vodka - used vodka because I just wanted sanitation without any flavor but the oak. I put them in a hop bag during secondary - couple times in a carboy and most recently in a Seidel 30l fermenter. Be careful of carboys - the cubes will expand a lot and it's a pain to get them out! One more reason to love the Speidel fermenters. I'm sure you could do it in a keg too, but I do recommend bagging them so you can take out easily when you get enough oak. Taste often, oak cubes can work pretty fast.
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Re: Barrel aged beers

Unread postby Luis Coentrao » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:12 pm

How often did you reuse the cubes (if ever)?
How much for a 5 gallon batch?
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Re: Barrel aged beers

Unread postby Nesto » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:08 pm

Luis Coentrao wrote:How often did you reuse the cubes (if ever)?
How much for a 5 gallon batch?

I've never tried to reuse them, not sure if that would work well. They seem somewhat "spent", but they might work a second time.

28g (1oz) is a good amount for 20 liter batch. You should taste often since the cubes work pretty fast. I think the longest I've left them in has been 2 weeks. Depends on how big the beer is and how much oak you want.
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