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Thread: Oak wine barrels and color

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Holyoke, Ma
    Posts
    10

    Oak wine barrels and color

    possibly a discussion to have amongst vinters, but I would like to know if anyone has had experience with red wine barrels the potential for them to color a light colored beer. I understand that litres of wine can be absorbed in a barrel, so I assume that some of the color can leech out into the product. After initially rinsing one barrel, there is a noticible color extracted. I don't want to waste a lot of hot water diluting the color if it is not neccesary (I have 12 barrels). Thanks
    Jason Dunson Todd
    Head Brewer
    Paper City Brewery

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    1

    Wine oak barrels

    We're in the process of aging an IPA that's about 10.3 SRM in oak wine barrels that have been used many times for wine. After 1 month we got some oakiness in the beer but no apparent wine color or flavor.

    This beer is probably a bit darker than what you're referring to but that's been our experience. We did many cold and hot water soaks before putting the beer in the barrels. The biggest problem we've run into is that our staves are only 3/4 - 1 inch thick and don't hold a lot of pressure therefore making secondary fermentation a bit tough.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Holyoke, Ma
    Posts
    10
    Thanks. I've only used whiskey barrels in the past and did not have the the crystalized wine lees to deal with. like I mentioned, after an initial hot rinse there was significant color that was leached out of the barrel. Maybe a good "scrubbing" of some sort will reduce that. I have a five gallon oak barrel that I have used for cask beers. getting condition is next to impossible mostly the preasure leaks out the end of the staves. I find there isn't much transfer against the grain, but certainly once the beer or gas finds a way into the "channels" of the grain it can escape. I think this might happen in the bung hole tavelling the length of the stave to the ends. Traditionally there would be a metal bushing installed. It is also possible that gas would leak out around the headboards or where the croze was cut for the heads. The wine barrels I have have parafin at that point, where the small five gallon one does not. Wonder if the ends of the staves could be sealed?
    Jason Dunson Todd
    Head Brewer
    Paper City Brewery

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1

    Wooden Cooperage and brettanomyces,

    Todd:

    I was a wine maker in Washington State in the mid-80’s. You need to have red wine barrels shaved when using for light colored beer. When buying wine barrels have a wine from a barrel sample tested by a lab for brettanomyces, and other bad bugs. Check the barrels for volatile acid {VA} like Acetic acid. If you are making Lambics you may want some of the “bad bugs” like brettanomyces, but once it is in your wooden cooperage about the only way to get rid of is to burn the wooden barrels. Keep all other processing away from the infected wood. Also your equipment can get infected. If a winery has bad bugs it my not tell you because it can devalue the winery if it is ever sold.

    I am hopping to brew Lambics and other beers of Belgium in the North West.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Riverbank, California
    Posts
    5
    Like Gary mentioned watch out for the bad bugs found in used wine barrels, they are often the reason why the winery dumped the barrel to begin with. As for the color issue, I think that you will find that after the first few uses you won't get wine color, and unless the barrel has been used realatively few times you won't likely get much oak flavor or color either. If you want your beer to pick up a strong oak flavor try re-cooped or new barrels. You might want to experiment with the different types of oak barrels out there as well, an american oak barrel will give much different flavors than that of a French oak barrel. Most of the cooperage houses out there have the information on what type of oak will produce certain flavors. In regards to the sealing question, sealing the ends of the staves is a great way to cut down on your losses.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    St. Helena, CA. USA
    Posts
    1

    wine barrels

    We sell new, used and recoopered American, French and Hungarian barrels for winemaking and to several breweries as well. Kevin Burton of Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage has tried em all and knows as much as anyone around about using wood in brewing. He can be reached at burtonbeer@hotmail.com.
    Dan at New Glarus Brewing (608.527.5850) is a veteran of using wood tanks.
    We have even made a prototype small barrel (firkin "A") to see about making fermentation tight vessels. Wood in brewing is coming back! Phil

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