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Steaming Barrels

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  • Steaming Barrels

    Just getting into some barrel aging and was wondering what folks are using for steaming barrels. Seems like the wands available are a bit pricey and figured I'd DIY something. Anyone care to share what they're doing?

    Idyllwild Brewpub

  • #2
    We have a high pressure boiler that gets up to 100 psi. I got the hose and gun from steamericas, purchased through Hotsy equipment. Had to kind of rig a bung on it to steam with a little bit of pressure. After a year or so of having to stand at the barrel holding the trigger, I purchased the actual barrel steamer from Steamericas. Its pricey but has been great. Holds just a little bit of pressure in the barrel but is always relieving it for safety. Also, the multidirectional steam ports on the wand allow for it to get up to 200 degrees within a minute.
    We've done ATP tests on barrels before and after steaming and have seen positive results. Also, lab tests on all barrels are leaving us with a pass rate in the 90% on clean beer so I'd say its doing great at sanitizing. On sour beers I like to give a quick steam on the barrels just to be sure no unwanted bugs may be in there, a little harder to test the effectiveness of the steaming once we pitch bugs on new barrels, but it has been a great piece of equipment and saved us a lot of HLT water by no longer pasteurizing.
    I've heard of some brewers trying to use lower pressure boilers as steam generators and having no luck, so I wouldn't suggest the boiler option unless it can get up around 80 psi or so. Otherwise, check out the steamericas steam generators.
    Simon Kretchik
    Barrel Program Manager
    MadTree Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, OH


    • #3
      Getting sanitary steam can be pricy. Most boilers used in industrial heating have their makeup water treated with chemicals to cut down corrosion. Just an FYI.
      Joel Halbleib
      Partner / Zymurgist
      Hive and Barrel Meadery
      6302 Old La Grange Rd
      Crestwood, KY


      • #4
        We've recently started a barrel aging program with a mix of clean and funky barrels. Our steam machine is very powerful and gets the internal of the barrel to 100'C in 5 to 7 minutes. We use a bung with a hole for the steam gun and another for the temp probe. We should put in some pressure relief mechanism but at the moment we allow the steam to vent out the side of the bung.