Barrel first, or not to barrel first....

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Tpat_11, Dec 7, 2018 at 2:18 PM.

  1. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Was wondering if any of yall had any opinions on this. Am getting ready to brew my first Flander's Red Ale and keep it in an oak barrel for over a year, most likely upwards of three years if I can wait that long lol. What are your guys' opinions on doing a primary fermentation in a stainless conical first before aging in the barrel vs. putting the beer straight into the barrel after its cooled from the boil.
  2. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Either way, make sure you brew an extra gallon for angels' share.
    SFACRKnight, Tpat_11 and jbakajust1 like this.
  3. telejunkie

    telejunkie Aspirant (238) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    +1 @GreenKrusty101

    I'm actively using a 10-gallon barrel, and have used this process twice now. I brew a 14 gallon batch, fill the barrel up with roughly 8.5 gallons for primary and the other 5.5 gallons goes in a bucket for a clean ferment. When active fermentation is done, I top off the barrel from the bucket and the remaining beer goes in a keg. Once carbonated, fill a couple small growlers with it and use that for topping off, especially if you're planning on aging a couple years....

    I've got an oud bruin that I just kegged that was 6 months in barrel which I did one extra top off. 6 months seems like it was plenty btw and that was the second beer in the barrel, 4th use of the barrel overall (bourbon>maple syrup>imperial stout>oud bruin)
  4. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (866) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    You could certainly do either and arrive at the same, or very similar, end product.

    That said, what's your recipe, what kind and size of barrel do you have, and why do you want to age it that long?
    Tpat_11 likes this.
  5. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,334) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I take it this is already an inoculated barrel?
  6. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Have you aged the same kind of beer in a barrel for over a year vs. 6 months? If so i was curious if you noticed a big difference between the two.
  7. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    No, this is a brand new barrel. This beer will be the first going through it.
  8. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    6lbs 10oz of Pale Malt (2 Row)
    2lbs 6oz of flaked maize
    2lbs 6oz Vienna Malt
    8oz Special B
    .75oz of Fuggle Hops (60 min)
    1 pkg Wyeast #3763 Roselare Blend (Using 1L Starter)

    Barrel is 5 gallons

    I wanted to try and let it sit in the barrel for up to 2 to 3 years as I read that they tend to get more dry at that point so I wanted to see how it turned out. At the same time I wanted to brew a younger batch and compare the two, and if I get a wild hair, maybe try some blending of the two.
  9. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (866) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    OK so far. What's your SRM look like?

    First generation Roeselare isn't very characterful. You might want to make a couple beers before this to get your microbes in the proper proportion. I'd also think about dropping your hops totally in those beers to accentuate what your lactobacillus can do.

    First use?

    Without getting into a lengthy dissertation, the more time a beer is left in the barrel the more oxygen it is exposed to. That's usually not a good thing. Packaging a beer as soon as it's reached the flavor profile that you desire is the best practice, IMO.

    Also, if you haven't already, reading the Milk the Funk wiki will help tremendously. Good luck!
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  10. Supergenious

    Supergenious Disciple (343) May 9, 2011 Michigan

    If this is a new barrel definitely try a couple clean beers first.
    I’ve only used one 5 gallon barrel. With that limited experience, I think 2-3 years is way too long for that size barrel (you need bigger). I think they work great for clean beers that stay in it for only a few weeks or months, but anything longer and you get way too much oak character. I did a couple sours in mine and I think they would have been better without. Then again ever barrel is a little different and everybody has their own preferences. Good luck!
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  11. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Was going to brew this today. Shooting for an SRM of 12.5 - 13

    Yes this will be its first use. Since I planned on brewing this today, should I put this in my stainless conical to ferment and use a different beer for the barrel's first time?
  12. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (866) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Yes. IMO, at least twice, maybe three times before using it for a sour beer.
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  13. honkey

    honkey Zealot (543) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    First use barrels give a LOT of oak flavor. If you do a primary in it, you’ll get more oak even than just aging in it. Honestly, I would run some “clean” beers through it first. Fill the barrel with boiling water, brew an imperial stout, ferment 3 gallons in the barrel, leave 2 gallons for blending back to dilute the oak flavor, run a barleywine with the same process, and then an ESB. After that, fill with your long term funky beer. I’ve done primary fermentation with stouts, porters, Old ales, and esb’s in 59 gallon barrels and the oak overpowers everything in the first few uses. You’ll have that same phenomenon compounded by the increased ratio of the surface area in a small barrel.
  14. honkey

    honkey Zealot (543) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    Also, multiple years in a 5 gallon barrel is going to be insane... I used to distill and filled 5 gallon barrels with whiskey. The rule of thumb was 1-1.5 months of aging per gallon. Normally beer is aged significantly less than 1/4th that amount of time. I would think that a couple months in a 5 gallon barrel will give all the oak flavor you’d want, but is obviously not going to let the microbes work as long as you might want. With that in mind, I would age a Flanders for a month or two in a 5 gallon barrel, rack into a keg, and let that sit for 3 years if you so desire.
    BigIslandfarmer and Tpat_11 like this.
  15. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Brewed this beer last night and decided to take yall's advice. Put it in my stainless conical instead of the barrel and everything seems to have went great with constant air lock activity less than 12 hours later. But I did run into something I've never seen before. My preboil gravity was 1.069 with 7.5 gal of volume. My post boil gravity was exactly the same 1.069 at 5 gallons after a 90 min boil. Granted, I did check the gravity a couple min after i pitched my decanted starter because I forgot, but I wouldn't think that would make a difference. Anyone else run into that?
  16. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,469) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    7.5 gallons of 1.069 wort, boiled down to 5 gallons, would have a post-boil OG of ~1.103.

    Let's say the beer from your starter that made it into the wort had a gravity of 1.010. You would have needed almost 3 gallons of it to bring the overall gravity down to 1.069.

    Something is wrong with one or more of your volumes and/or readings.
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  17. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Well %$#@... lol I just went and made sure my hydrometer is still working correctly, and it is. Reads .004 high like always so i have no idea how i got those readings. Guess its just one of those freak things. Im guessing something was wrong with my preboil gravity readings from what I can discern.
  18. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,243) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Stratified sugars at runoff. Give that wort a big stir before taking your preboil reading.
    Tpat_11 likes this.
  19. telejunkie

    telejunkie Aspirant (238) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    I have not gone over a year...I try to pull a small taste every 2-3 weeks when I'm thinking it's getting close. I'll keg it when I hit that sweet spot. Part of it has to do with the funk level too...not just the oak. Especially in a smaller barrel, you'll get more oxygen ingress and could have more issues with aceto/volatile acidity, especially if not keeping it well topped up.
    Tpat_11 likes this.
  20. Tpat_11

    Tpat_11 Initiate (16) Nov 20, 2018 Alabama

    Taking your advice and have been researching a good imperial stout for one of the first to run through this barrel. I haven't done one of these before so it should be interesting. I've found a few to work with, you have any recommendations?
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  21. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (866) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

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