Back in October 2016, I went to a garage sale at the Eagle Rock Brewery. Most of the guys who are involved with that fine establishment have been and still are avid home brewers. The garage sale was a treasure trove of goodies, and I scored this sweet, 59.6 gallon used wine barrel for $50. I believe the wine barrel was originally used at a vineyard in France. The Eagle Rock Brewery guys used it to barrel age a sour. Here’s the barrel just sitting in my garage:

Barrel on the hand cart

I needed to be able to lay the barrel on its side in order to fill it. Morebeer.com sells metal wine barrel racks for about $100, however, their profile was too tall, and I needed the rack to be on casters. It would eventually live underneath my basement stairs, so I needed to make sure that it took up as little space as possible. I also thought that it would be a lot easier to deal with if I could roll it around while full, hence the casters. So I built this:

Wooden barrel cradle

The barrel sits nicely in the cradle, and it looks pretty smart too, if I do say so myself:

Barrel sitting in the cradle

Now, I needed to fill it! The most laborious process here involved brewing 60 gallons of Flanders Red. Sadly, my home brew setup only allows me to brew 5 gallons at a time, so, this took four weekends of hard work. I pitched two packets of Roseleare Ale Yeast when I brewed the first batch, but after that, I just added more wort. Since this would be a sour beer, I didn’t need to be as fastidious about my sanitation as usual. In order to speed up the process considerably, I cooled the wort by tossing in 10 pounds of ice. Brought it down to about 65ยบ in a matter of minutes! Also, since the recipe called for a 90 minute boil, it helped get my gravity close to the target original gravity of 1.061.

On October 30, 2016, I finally filled the barrel! Here it is, up to the brim:

Barrel full to the top!

I got the gravity relatively close to the target – my final number was 1.060. I calculated this rather unscientifically by taking a gravity reading for each 5 gallon batch, adding them all together, and dividing by 12. So, assuming each batch was exactly 5.000 gallons, this number will be totally accurate!

Here is the full barrel, tucked neatly under the stairs:

Barrel safely stowed under the basement stairs.

I’m going to taste this after 6 months of aging, on April 30th, 2017. I plan on aging it for 18 months, so I plan to filter it and transfer it to kegs on April 30th, 2018. I can’t wait to share with all my friends!

 



3 Responses to “The Beer Barrel/Flanders Red Experiment”

  1. 1 Dan Hakes

    Awesome dude! I love it. Have you considered running it as a solera style system? This would mean that every year you would keg half of it, then refill it with fresh beer. The old beer educates the new beer.
    Keep up the good work!


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