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Barrel aging?

Anyone have any familiarity with barrel aging? I snagged a 5 gallon used whiskey barrel and was planning on filling it up with some imperial stout to let it age. My question is this…would it be ok to rack over a batch that I just kegged a few weeks ago and let it age or should I brew a fresh batch and rack it over after fermentation? I don’t think that I want to ferment in the barrel but just age in it but at the same time I know I will lose a lot of carbonation with it in the barrel. Should I overcarb it and rack it in there and just let it sit for a while then I can transfer back to a keg later and put a little more carbonation back into it?

u will not be able to keep (much) carbonation in the barrell. My suggestion is to use it as a secondary/aging vessel, before you keg.

I have never really thought about barrel aging because I was under the impression that most if not all bourbon barrels were huge and would need to be filled by a group.
Where did you snag a 5 gallon?

You can find 5 Gallon New Barrels on Ebay for about $100. Small price to pay for the ability to do your own barrel aging.

You wont know the oak/bourbon flavor it contributes until you try it. If it is fairly strong you might not have it in there very long. I would just go with a new beer. Once you start using up the flavors you will have to add staves/cubes and such to get back the flavor that you loose. Or (try) to do a few clean beers and then turn it into a sour barrell.
Smaller barrells also let a lot more oxygen in than the large 59g barrels due to the larger surface area.
You also have a chance of your beer becoming sour (which is not a bad thing) depending on how long you are letting it sit.

This is getting a little off topic because their barrel already seems to be whiskey aged but if you bought a new 20L oak barrel could you just toss in a bottle of bourbon and let it soak up into the wood to get that taste? Has anyone done this? Any idea how long you should to get the flavor into the wood?

[quote=“cam0083”]I have never really thought about barrel aging because I was under the impression that most if not all bourbon barrels were huge and would need to be filled by a group.
Where did you snag a 5 gallon?[/quote]

there are all kinds of barrel sizes. 5, 7 13, 30, 59
THe large 59 g ones you can usually get really cheap buying the other ones new are quite expensive.
I have only found one winery that has 30g available

Tossing in a bottle of bourbon in even a small 5g barrell is not going to cover much it would be a small little puddle in the barrel. When you are not using your barrel it should be filled with a meta solution.

A little carbonation going in will slow any oxidation, but it will be flat when you pull it out. I wouldn’t hesitate to put the kegged batch in the barrel, the sooner you get it going the sooner you’ll have barrel-aged beer (3 months?)

As far as barrels, if you get a new charred barrel (the kind used for aging whiskey) it might impart a lot of smoky flavor (like it does to the whiskey). I’d maybe go with a wine toast, medium or medium-plus. A whiskey barrel still have quite a bit of whiskey soaked into the wood so a fifth probably wouldn’t be overkill although I don’t think it is a lot less either. Its wood not sponge.

Soak your barrel first, it will seal leaks and leach out some of the heaviest of the oak flavor. With wine you have to break in a new small barrel, the first batch can only b in for a few weeks before it gets oaked. each successive batch can stay in longer, after a few batches you can leave it in for three months. I don’t like over 3 months in a 5gal small barrel, that is a lot of micro-oxidation since there is a lot of surface for the volume.

I got it from Adventures in Homebrewing for $79 plus shipping. It is an 11 liter whiskey barrel that was used by Balcones Distilling here in Texas I believe. It still has a little liquid in it and it smells great. There are no leaks currently. I rinsed it out a couple of times and left it filled with water in my garage fridge until Sunday when I plan to fill it up.

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