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Brewing a German Lager in a Wooden Barrel

I’ve been wanting to brew a traditional German Holzfass (wooden barrel) beer for a long time, (think Oktoberfest where the wooden barrel is tapped with a spigot hammered into barrel). I’ve read a lot of barrel aging threads and articles, but they seem to mostly apply to secondary fermentation for stouts, porters, etc… for flavoring purposes.

Has anybody done a light-barrel conditioned/carbonated German lager? If so, what is the process? Do I rack from the primary into the barrel and lager in the barrel? Force carbonate with CO2, or add priming sugar? Any advice is appreciated. Prost!

What type of barrel for you have?

Not a lager, nor a wooden barrel, but into a korny, yes, and ale yes… My cask conditioned ale was racked at 5 points, there abouts, above what is my FG. I did cheat and used gas to seat the top. Lay it on its side, and when ever you walk by, roll it about… You are getting the yeast back into suspension. Give it a couple of weeks or more.
I’d say for a lager, finish it completely, then with some fresh wort, transfer to your keg… This is where one of those online calculators would be ideal. Brew Cat should be able to help with pre-conditioning your wooden keg… Near boiling water pumped from your BK into your keg? And repeat? Sneezles61

I’m thinking it would be a new 5-gallon oak barrel.

There is a book “Wood and Beer” you should read it before you start. What type of lager are you thinking. I’ve done a Baltic Porter but only left it in the barrel for a short period then lager in kegs. The problem with the 5 gallon barrel is to much beer comes in contact with the wood. I think when beer is lagered in wood it’s done in very large barrels

The germans dont brew in the wooden barrel. Thats the main reason you dont see anyone doing primary fermentaion and doing only secondary in them. They do lager and tap barrels with great lagers in them ready to drink. BUT its not like you think they are not going for oak flavors or barrel flavors in the beer. They coat the inside with what is called Brewers Pitch to keep the beer from getting those flavors. Brewers pitch is a blend of pine and other resins, made to make a water tight and food safe coating that is used for wood or metal containers. They heat the brewers pitch and pour it in and roll the barrels till all is coated inside. They normaly prime naturally so when the beer is put in the barrel it is mixed with krausening, fresh wort taken from the most recent batch made. They are allowed to purge the barrel with co2 just not carbinate with with it. You can prime the whole barrel with priming sugar and then once carbinated lager in the barrel till you are ready to tap it.

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Fascinating Damian! Sneezles61

If you are going for oak flavor then there are a lot less expensive ways to add it using cubes, chips or spirals.
I’ve never used a barrel but my understanding is that there are diminishing returns with regards to oakiness with each batch/use.

I’ve been looking around for my copy of the book but if I remember there is a section on different woods for different beers. Maybe beechwood. I have run about 6 beers through my five gallon oak barrel and never left it more than 2 weeks .

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