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Matt F
11/21/10 07:36 PM  
Sources for barrels
I've been trying to acquire a used quarter cask to reuse for home brewing and have been unsuccessful. Can anyone point me in the right direction for buying smaller size barrels? I've seen several websites that sell new wooden barrels. Has anyone tried these? How did it work out?

Alternatively if anyone has been able to land a used smaller size barrel any advice would be very appreciated. If it makes a difference I'm looking specifically to age a barleywine similar to a JW Lees I had right out of a calvados quarter cask at Monks awhile back. Eventually it would be fun to throw wild brews into as well.



11/22/10 09:40 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I actually saw a bunch of barrels just yeasterday. I needed some yeast, I ended up going to a place in north Jersey I never knew about, turned out to be a homebrew shop warehouse of sorts. Like wow. There was a stack of barrels a lot taller than me, volume was in quarts but they were about 5 gallons I think. American oak, $225.
11/22/10 05:54 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels

Tuthilltown sells several sizes of whiskey-cured barrels - 3, 9, and 15 gal according to their website. They are a small-batch artisanal distillery in NY state. The 3-gal is roughly $90 with shipping.

It's not calvados, but the size and price might spur insbeeration!

11/22/10 07:00 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
There was a guy selling 5.25g corn whiskey barrels on homebrewtalk.com a few months ago, I got one from him, I recall seeing a newer post about them, but can't seem to find it again.

Also, a local distillery here sells used barrels (sort of)...here is the text of an e-mail I have saved from them...

Downslope Barrels- Oodles of people have inquired about buying our used barrels to age beer in. Up until recently, that wasn't an option because we reuse the barrels many times. We have figured a way around this with the following three step program:

You purchase a new 20 liter barrel through us for our wholesale price ($90 plus shipping)

We receive the barrel and age spirit in it for 3 months

We call you and you come pick up the barrel.

You get a discounted barrel that has had the distinction of holding Downslope Double Diamond Whiskey. Call or come by to reserve.

Our distillery and tasting room is at

6770 S Dawson Cr suite 400:

Centennial, Colorado


11/23/10 12:39 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I got my Solera 50 Liter Hungarian oak

fresh dumped red wine from Vadai wine.

I recomment the people and product good stuff.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with them, just

a satisfied customer.

Matt F
11/23/10 09:01 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Thanks for the suggestions. I went with tuthilltown. They were very helpful too.
11/23/10 03:51 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Yeah, I'd have to say NinaB had the winner there!
11/23/10 08:10 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I've bought a 5g wheat whiskey barrel from New Holland brewing in Michigan and its worked quite well. They do different whiskeys, rums, etc. and sell these 1st use oak barrels for around $150 including shipping. More info on their facebook page. Dennis Downing is the head distiller there and was great to work with to get the barrel shipped.
Matt F
11/23/10 09:06 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
For you guys who have done this did you have any need to sanitize the barrel or does the leftover whiskey keep it bug free?

If you sanitized how did you accomplish it without compromising the flavors left from the whiskey?

Thanks again.

11/24/10 08:23 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
The whiskey is plenty good for sanitizing, I didn't do anything other than put a blanket of CO2 into the barrel before racking the beer in. Turned out great.
Rob B
11/24/10 10:42 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Just curious CJ...what does the CO2 blanket do for you? The barrel is permeable to O2(air). Are you just trying to minimize O2 absorption during transfer into the barrel?
11/25/10 10:31 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Yep, just to try and minimize any O2 absorption during the transfer. Think I read about a commercial brewer doing this in an BYO article and adopted it. Probably doesn't make a huge difference in the end, but part of my process.
Matt F
11/26/10 02:43 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I wanted to provide an update. I received two 3-gallon barrels from Tuthilltown a couple days ago (fast shipping). Unfortunately I filled the bourbon one up with stout today and it started leaking from both ends. I contacted Tuthilltown and requested a replacement, I'll update this thread once I hear back but I would hold off from ordering from Tuthilltown unless you're absolutely sure of the barrel quality.

Since barrels can dry how if they're not filled how do you keep them moist (prevent contraction) when they're not in use? For example I don't have anything to put into my second barrel at the moment, how can I prevent it from suffering the same fate as my first?

11/26/10 04:22 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I have no personal experience but from my understanding you have to swell the barrel first. If you don't have beer / wine to put in it you should fill it with water in between uses to keep it from shrinking. That unfortunately doesn't help you much now, but hopefully having liquid in it now will cause it to swell and stop the leaks.
11/26/10 04:28 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
This is what I was thinking of:


11/26/10 05:53 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
I had 3 small barrels a friend gave me. When they were filled with warm water they leaked around the barrel heads. After fixing the bore beetle holes I refilled with hot water and they leaked for a few hours then swelled enough to stop the leaks.

Now they are full of beer in the garage and tasting fairly good for being 4 months old!! I plan on adding some BF4 and bretts in the future.

Wineries seem to be good about letting old barrels go. If you are doing a sour/lambic type beer their old barrels are perfect.


11/26/10 09:55 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Another source for barrels, depending on where you live, is Tom Griffin out of Wisconsin. He supplies used barrels of all sorts to micros all over the country including Goose Island and others. He'll sell a single barrels to homebrewers just as happily as 200+ barrels to a micro. Here's an article about him written awhile back now:


Ten brewer friends and I got a 23 year old brandy barrel from him that we are currently using as a bug barrel to age & sour a Belgian imperial stout. We're looking at getting a couple wine barrels in the spring as well. Luckily, he is under 2 hours away from us though, so we just go get them. No shipping charges!

11/27/10 01:11 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
We had this topic posted over at AHA and

I thought you might like to read that discussion


11/27/10 11:43 AM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Hi guys, sorry to just jump into your forum without a prior introduction. My name is Joel and I am the chief distiller at Tuthilltown. I wanted to address Matt F's concerns about our barrels.

While it is certainly possible that barrels you received from us won't hold liquid, it is important to note that you must first prime them if you want them to hold liquid. We tried doing this in-house before shipping, but had issues with spoilage & mold in transit. Since I assume you are using these for beer aging, simply filling & soaking with water (which is what we do... takes about 24-72 hours) may lead to contamination issues. There are a few techniques used in the industry to address this. One is to use what is referred to in French brandy making as "faible" which is generally the "low wine" (weak spirit) produced during initial distillation. I assume you could accomplish the same with some weakened neutral spirit which might be better for beer as it will impart less flavor. I am also partial to peracetic acid (or peroxy-acetic) as it is VERY effective and leaves no harmful residues. Of course there is also SO2, which I can't recommend but works. Also, if you use faible, neutral spirit or clean water save it! It can be used for blending down to bottling strength if desired (this water is often called "boise" and is invaluable). Oh, wait... I'm on about spirits...

Having said all of this, please let us know if you purchase a barrel from us that will not hold and we'll gladly replace it. The main reason we started the barrel sales program was to inspire creative use of a still-useful product. Innovation built our company!


Matt F
11/27/10 03:51 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
Thanks for the reply Joel. Yesterday I heard back from another rep from Tuthilltown who shipped out a replacement barrel. I'll look into swelling the barrels first in the future. I'm looking forward to trying some spirits from Tuthilltown. I have a "Baby Bourbon" waiting to be opened. Thanks again for help and excellent customer service.

One more thing. Is it possible to swell the barrels by floating them in sanitized water?

11/28/10 12:02 PM  
Re: Sources for barrels
On Sandor's website is a link on how to pretreat barrels and the method worked really well for me. I also took the liberty of applying melted bee's wax to some questionable joints. All was said and done I did NOT have even one drip.


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