Barrel Aging

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Resistance88, Jan 9, 2022.

  1. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    Tavour thread got me thinking .

    I don't know shit about it. Let's talk
     
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  2. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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  3. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    What's the average cost for storage on a barrel?
    Whhich breweries store on site vs off site? I just found out that FW stores their barrels at Boulevard. Smart move. Maybe Fremont should store their barrels in China or India to offset that 30% increase of DarkStar
     
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  4. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,858) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    This is where they stored the first Parabola when Boulevard joined the Duvel-Moortgat family. I'm unsure if this still occurs. Boulevard does have a very large industrial warehouse space separate from their brewing and serving facilities. It's unclear if this is where they age and/or if they use it to store beer pre-distro.

    It has made me wonder if this helps save large breweries money, or if it just works out to pennies in difference.
     
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  5. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    Are barrels only good for one use when aging a stout? Serious question
     
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  6. BigIronH

    BigIronH Meyvn (1,111) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    I’d like to know too. I recently got some stout barrel aged Jameson though. Talk about the circle of life.
     
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  7. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,189) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    Michigan folks can weigh in with more details, but didn’t Founders move their barrels off-site a few years back? I think to an old depot, but I could be wrong.
     
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  8. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,246) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
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    A long time ago Lost Abbey had trouble with infection from reusing barrels. I've never heard of any breweries doing so since, but some mention "freshly emptied" or "second use". Is that to distinguish themselves from breweries that reuse?
     
  9. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Meyvn (1,460) Oct 17, 2012 Texas
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    I think it is less common, but the barrels can be used again.
     
  10. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    What's the average cost for a barrel as of now?

    Answer: The prices of these barrels (particularly the whiskey and bourbon ones) will cost you from $149 to $229, depending on the quality and status of the barrel itself.

    How much use does a bourbon distiller get from one before selling it off ?

    Answer: ...with around 53 gallons of liquid per barrel, and accounting for loss from the “angel's share,” that one barrel will eventually turn into around 150-200 750 mL bottles. -Productos Furia
     
    #10 Resistance88, Jan 10, 2022
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2022
  11. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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  12. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,936) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I believe those terms are referring to having been freshly emptied of liquor and second use after liquor, as opposed to beers that are aged in freshly made wooden barrels.

    Cost of storage will totally depend on how large of a space the brewer uses and how much their rent/property costs are. I know that Firestone has a large barrel facility in Buelton. Their cost per barrel day is going to be different than a brewer who is located in a lower cost location or a brewer who only has a handful of barrels kept in an otherwise unused area of their brewing facility.
     
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  13. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,246) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
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    Yes, that was what I meant, sorry if I wasn't clear. Breweries that use those terms are making it known that they fill barrels with beer only once. That they feel the need to make that distinction makes me wonder if some breweries fill their bourbon barrels with beer more than once.
     
  14. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (2,222) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
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    Founders has their barrel aging facility in an old train station a mile or two from their brewery. It's a huge facility.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. sharpski

    sharpski Meyvn (1,226) Oct 11, 2010 Svalbard & Jan Mayen Islands
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    In every context that I've heard Brewers using the term "second use," they are referring to a second aging with beer. For example, a local brewery just emptied Bourbon barrels containing BA Stout. They immediately re-filled those barrels with a Wee Heavy. That Wee Heavy is in "second use" barrels.

    It's my understanding that Bourbon barrels can still impart significant (though diminished) flavor in a second use, but the barrel is fairly neutral flavor-wise and more prone to microorganism growth after that.
     
  16. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,948) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Here's the problem with barrel aging, there are NO guarantees that the beer won't spoil or oxidize in the barrel. Another issue is paying for the space. Shit, there are barrels of utopias out there that are over 20 years old now. That's 20 years of paying rent on the space.
     
  17. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,286) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    For many years Founders used an old salt mine somewhere underground in the Grand Rapids area. I don't know if they still do that since moving their barreling operation into this old depot building. Probably not.

    I'd be curious to find out if this old train station contains brewing equipment, or if the beer is still brewed at the original location and put into barrels which are then transported for storage in this depot building. The times that I've driven past this facility (it's easily seen right along US-131 just south of the downtown area) I've never noticed grain silos or other hints of brewing, although I'm busy driving in a busy traffic area. It would have given them an opportunity to expand their brewing operation since the main location is getting pretty land-locked which limits future expansion there.
     
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  18. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,286) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    I'm going to disagree with your first paragraph. I think 'second use' is referring to the fact that the liquor that was in the barrel is the first use, and this is the first time that the barrel has contained a beer, thus is has 'fresh' liquor characteristics from being in the barrel.

    I agree with your second paragraph that the barrel imparts less liquor flavor on its next use, but that will probably depend on how long the first beer was aged.

    With each re-use of a barrel the odds go up regarding the probability that wild yeast or other similar critters get into that barrel and infect the next beer that goes into it. There are old threads in this forum or the homebrewing forum that have mentioned something like 30%-40% of the barrels can be expected to have spoiled beer at the end of the aging period, hence another reason that drives up the cost of BA beers.

    I think any brewer who tries to use a barrel a third time had better know what he's doing and have spic-and-span sanitation procedures when filling barrels.
     
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  19. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (418) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Those Jameson variants from either stout or IPA barrels are good stuff.
     
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  20. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,286) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    New Holland has Beer Barrel Bourbon on store shelves if you want to try something local. They've been making that for 8-10 years now (I think). They used to purchase bourbon from a distiller in Indiana and put it into barrels that formerly held Dragon's Milk, but I suspect they distill their own bourbon nowadays. I had it when it was first introduced, and though it was a pretty rough bourbon, but I'm no connoisseur. Don't know if today's product is any better.
     
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  21. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (786) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio
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    If you want a stout to have significant barrel flavor, the barrel should only be used once. If, however, you want it to taste like Dragon’s Milk, feel free to reuse the barrels.

    I’m joking…kind of. New Holland used to discuss (maybe they still do, not sure) that they use their barrels multiple times. I don’t know how many, but their stout is filled at least 3 times as I recall.

    Most breweries only fill a barrel once. If a barrel is filled twice, it is often for “3rd use” beers a La 2013/2014 BCBBW.

    Because refilling does increase the potential for ‘bugs’, sanitation is a concern. I have no idea what New Holland does.
     
  22. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (3,042) Aug 17, 2013 California
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    I highly doubt it. As in the Scotch world, some distilleries are using 5th and 6th use barrels. I bet they use multiple times. I would like to see this detailed by the breweries. Are they using first-fill barrels or not?
     
  23. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (3,042) Aug 17, 2013 California
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    Exactly. Same as Scotch. The more you use a barrel, the less flavor it will impart. That said, higher ABV alcohol probably doesn't need to worry about infections like beer.
     
  24. BigIronH

    BigIronH Meyvn (1,111) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    Thanks for the heads up here as I had no idea about this but I definitely want to try that.
     
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  25. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (225) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    A lot of the stuff here is news to me. Appreciate the posts.
    Also, my top tier BA peoples are in here.
     
  26. BruChef

    BruChef Initiate (176) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    I always wondered how a barrel is prepped for aging beer-especially if it isn’t still “wet” from having been recently “dumped”. What are the sani protocols prior to filling? Also, what about foeder aged beers? Some of them are big and some are massive. If the brewer uses them to impart flavor, how many batches until it doesn’t anymore? Then what? Does it simply become a holding tank? I’ve heard that they can be sanded or scraped down to reveal new wood but that seems tedious and impractical. Especially for the bigger ones.
     
  27. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (786) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio
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    @Luscious_Malfoy @bread_c @MattOC All probably have a good handle on this and can provide expert responsss. (I always thought the foeder was primarily for letting the beer ferment and evolve as it picks up some of the past culture still present rather than picking up flavor from the wood. It occurred to me when summoning these 3 that I don’t actually know.)
     
  28. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (13,530) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Further clarification; Bourbon distillers are not allowed to reuse their barrels again for bourbon.
     
    #28 bbtkd, Jan 10, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
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  29. Luscious_Malfoy

    Luscious_Malfoy Poo-Bah (3,379) Oct 5, 2016 Illinois
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    no expert but i imagine the more freshly dumped the more bourbon flavors get imparted. however, i also imagine getting barrels super freshly dumped is a trick task.

    as far as foeders go, i think that allows for oak to make an impression on a beer but more importantly it allows for reuse since they’re large enough to stand inside them and be rinsed. they also allow for solera method brewing by being large enough to pull from who’ll still leaving some beer behind to continue to age and develop.

    as far as reusing barrels, wine barrels for saisons and wilds get reused all the time but bourbon and other spirit barrels don’t (and i’m guessing here) most likely due to infection issues and also not being able to impart such bold spirit flavors after one use.
     
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  30. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,286) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Don't quote me on this, but all liquor has to be mixed with water to get the proof down to drinkable limits. I don't know if water is added before or after aging, but if after, that will increase the number of filled bottles per each emptied barrel.
     
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  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,359) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, I've always felt that "barrel-aged" terminology is insufficient - before stainless steel, glass-lined iron or steel, aluminum and other modern materials, ALL beer was fermented and aged in and served from wood. BUT brewers did not want infections or wood flavors and so vessels (fermenters, aging casks, most kegs) were lined with pitch or coated with lacquer, varnish or other protective linings.

    Those methods preserved the wood for decades and, in the case of pitch, also added a flavor - liked by some, disliked by others. No self-respecting brewer of the past would have ever wanted their beer flavored with spirits or wine (at least, that's my opinion:grin:).

    Gone up in price since the days (1960s-1980s) before brewers used them to flavor their beers with non-traditional methods.
    [​IMG]
    Remember walking past these stored outside a Rickel's one day in the early 1970s and getting a strong whiff of whiskey. Stopped and pulled the top one of the nested stack and surprised to see actual whiskey in the bottom of the second one. After that, whenever I saw them for sale, I'd always go "take a whiff" (as Lead Belly sang--- about something else).
     
  32. JuliusPepperwood

    JuliusPepperwood Aspirant (224) Jul 21, 2013 North Carolina

    I work at a small brewery but here is how we prep new barrels for being filled:

    -We fill the barrel with steam for an hour or so. This swells up the wood staves so they are water tight, helps rinse out any loose wood pieces, and sterilizes the barrel (to a degree).
    -We let it cool then purge the barrel with CO2 to get all the oxygen out.
    -We use a bulldog transfer arm to fill the barrel from the bottom up.
    -We typically put Imperial Stouts in them so it is fully fermented beer and the alcohol and IBU's help prevent bacteria and wild yeast from growing.
    -We periodically check the beer for infection and to see how well it is picking up barrel character.
    -If we are not going to use a barrel for a while we use sulfur wicks to keep wild yeast from growing inside it. They are paper strips with a coating and you light them on fire and seal them inside the barrel. The smoke kills and impedes anything from growing inside the barrel. It should be done once a month or so if you are going a long time without filling it.
     
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  33. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Poo-Bah (8,699) Sep 25, 2011 England
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    Speaking to Torrside, they said they generally will use a bourbon or peaty whisky barrel three times, with differing results to the flavour of the beer, twice with something a little more delicate like Sherry.
     
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,283) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    How barrels are used by brewers will vary based upon the specific breweries and their production goals.

    I suspect that for smaller breweries they will typically just use a barrel that contained spirits once since a subsequent reuse will have a diminished flavor of the spirit (e.g., bourbon).

    Larger breweries perhaps have more flexibility since they have warehouses containing hundreds of barrels and they can blend the product as they choose.

    @PapaGoose03 mentioned that even with a brewery using a barrel for the first time there is a chance of infection. From my conversations with some commercial brewers they have mentioned that something like 1/3rd of their barrels could be ‘dumpers’ due to contamination. The costs of this wastage needs to accounted in the prices of the brands.

    Cheers!
     
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,283) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Do you have an estimate for what percentage of barrels will suffer from infection/contamination?

    Cheers!
     
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  36. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (786) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio
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    It's added after. There is an entry proof, then there's a dump proof. Then there's the proof it is bottled at, unless it is a Barrel Proof (BP) offering.
     
  37. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,858) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    That's part of what started this discussion - how much does moving aging facilities to cheaper cost of living areas impact cost per ounce? For both production cost and retail.

    Was this cost savings why Boulevard aged Parabola for Firestone Walker the first year they were under the same company?
     
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  38. JuliusPepperwood

    JuliusPepperwood Aspirant (224) Jul 21, 2013 North Carolina

    Like I said we are small, we only fill 6-8 barrels a year but our clean beers have always stayed clean. We're thrifty so we get a wet barrel and we fill it with a stout, age it about 6 months and it's ready. We'll refill it with a stout and let it age a year for similar results. And then lastly we'll fill it with a lower abv sour ale and age it a year for a subtle barrel character. I doubt many other breweries use a barrel 3 times.
     
    #38 JuliusPepperwood, Jan 10, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
  39. JuliusPepperwood

    JuliusPepperwood Aspirant (224) Jul 21, 2013 North Carolina

    I did read an interesting article about the life of a bourbon barrel. It followed the life of a barrel that was used at a distillery, then used at a brewery, then a coffee roaster aged beans in it, then a maple syrup producer aged syrup in it, and then finally a local BBQ place took the barrel and smoked meat by burning the oak staves.
     
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  40. Luscious_Malfoy

    Luscious_Malfoy Poo-Bah (3,379) Oct 5, 2016 Illinois
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    was going to say, has to be after dumping because you have certain lines of bourbon that don’t cut it with water (Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel comes to mind)
     
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