Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

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It’s under a week now until I put this beer into the barrel so I decided to crack on with flavouring the barrel.

First off the barrel is full of water and that needs draining. I also had those cruddy bits that flushed out of the barrel still around the bung. First job was just to scrape off that muck for no good reason really, it just spoils the clean lines!

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On removing the bung I found the barrel was still pretty much full though the water level had fallen slightly - I guess a little more absorption by the wood. The water that came out was a little discoloured from the charring and at first did have some bits but nothing that worries me. The water was more clear of bits as the water drained. I didn’t flush the barrel out any more.

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Looking inside the barrel as best I can it looks clean and in good condition.


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I decided I’m going to use JD to flavour the barrel and I used most of a bottle as you can see in the picture.
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After putting in the JD I gave the barrel a swirl and a roll to coat the inside and I put the barrel back on it’s stand. Two or three times a day now I will swirl and roll the barrel and put it back on it’s stand in a different orientation to give all the surfaces a soak. I’ll repeat this until I fill the barrel with the stout.
 

Brewnaldo

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It’s under a week now until I put this beer into the barrel so I decided to crack on with flavouring the barrel.

First off the barrel is full of water and that needs draining. I also had those cruddy bits that flushed out of the barrel still around the bung. First job was just to scrape off that muck for no good reason really, it just spoils the clean lines!

View attachment 72556 View attachment 72561

On removing the bung I found the barrel was still pretty much full though the water level had fallen slightly - I guess a little more absorption by the wood. The water that came out was a little discoloured from the charring and at first did have some bits but nothing that worries me. The water was more clear of bits as the water drained. I didn’t flush the barrel out any more.

View attachment 72557
Looking inside the barrel as best I can it looks clean and in good condition.


View attachment 72558
I decided I’m going to use JD to flavour the barrel and I used most of a bottle as you can see in the picture.
View attachment 72559 View attachment 72560

After putting in the JD I gave the barrel a swirl and a roll to coat the inside and I put the barrel back on it’s stand. Two or three times a day now I will swirl and roll the barrel and put it back on it’s stand in a different orientation to give all the surfaces a soak. I’ll repeat this until I fill the barrel with the stout.
I'm very interested to see how much bourbon takes root in there.
 
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I chose today as the day to transfer my imperial stout from the fermenters into the barrel, being three weeks in the fermenter.

First I got set up with the two fermenters and the barrel. Then to answer the question from @Brewnaldo concerning how much bourbon is absorbed by the barrel I drained the bourbon into a measuring jug. 600ml went in and about 460ml came out so not a lot taken up by the wood. This was after five days and frequent rolling of the barrel around the garden to keep all the surfaces wet. The barrel has had two weeks full of water so the barrel was already well soaked when the bourbon went in. I do want all the bourbon in the barrel so after measuring what was left I tipped it back in. I did have a taste of the drips left in the jug and there was a hint of oak in there.

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I rehearsed the transfer two or three times in my head to make sure I was working to a plan - like the driver of a bobsleigh imagining driving the course beforehand (well maybe not as glamorous but you get the idea).

This is a look inside the two fermenters before the transfer. The final gravity is 1025 so is a little higher than I’d thought I might get so the ABV will be 11.3%.

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The beer itself looks as you might expect - black! The flavour at this point is nicely balanced and smooth with a mild alcohol taste on the finish. I think this will condition out but isn’t at all harsh even now.

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Time for the transfer.

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Here is a look inside the two fermenters at the end of the transfer.

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Having almost filled the barrel I lifted the syphon tube out of the barrel and into a jug to capture the last of the beer. I thought this would allow me to fill the barrel to the top with a little more control (from the jug) and maybe give me a little left over.

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I had more left over than I thought so I filled four and a bit bottles with the left overs to enjoy as a regular imperial stout. These are 500ml bottles which are really a bit big for an 11.3% stout but it’s what I’ve got 🤷‍♂️ The fifth bottle was topped up a bit more with the dregs from the bottom of the two fermenters so is a bit of a runt and may not make it.

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The barrel is now in the brewshed at 13-14C where it will stay until it’s picked up the bourbon and oak flavours. I’ll give it a little taste test each week to determine when it’s done.

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I rehearsed the transfer two or three times in my head to make sure I was working to a plan - like the driver of a bobsleigh imagining driving the course beforehand (well maybe not as glamorous but you get the idea).

This is a look inside the two fermenters before the transfer. The final gravity is 1025 so is a little higher than I’d thought I might get so the ABV will be 11.3%.

View attachment 72813 View attachment 72814

The beer itself looks as you might expect - black! The flavour at this point is nicely balanced and smooth with a mild alcohol taste on the finish. I think this will condition out but isn’t at all harsh even now.

View attachment 72815
Time for the transfer.

View attachment 72816
Here is a look inside the two fermenters at the end of the transfer.

View attachment 72817 View attachment 72818

Having almost filled the barrel I lifted the syphon tube out of the barrel and into a jug to capture the last of the beer. I thought this would allow me to fill the barrel to the top with a little more control (from the jug) and maybe give me a little left over.

View attachment 72819 View attachment 72820
I had more left over than I thought so I filled four and a bit bottles with the left overs to enjoy as a regular imperial stout. These are 500ml bottles which are really a bit big for an 11.3% stout but it’s what I’ve got 🤷‍♂️ The fifth bottle was topped up a bit more with the dregs from the bottom of the two fermenters so is a bit of a runt and may not make it.

View attachment 72821
The barrel is now in the brewshed at 13-14C where it will stay until it’s picked up the bourbon and oak flavours. I’ll give it a little taste test each week to determine when it’s done.

View attachment 72822
That's some brewshed, be good to see a tour of the set up when you have time mate.
 
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Well jell (as the kids would say). Awesome set up, mate. How on earth do you find the time to fill TWELVE kegs?
Better than that, it’s 13 kegs (so far) 😉

I can ferment 4 at a time and every so often I’ll just brew four beers in a week or so. I’m retired, my children are grown-up, I built a low-maintenance garden, and my wife is supportive so finding time isn’t too much of a problem for me. 🥳
 

phildo79

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Better than that, it’s 13 kegs (so far) 😉

I can ferment 4 at a time and every so often I’ll just brew four beers in a week or so. I’m retired, my children are grown-up, I built a low-maintenance garden, and my wife is supportive so finding time isn’t too much of a problem for me. 🥳
Waiting for the day, mate, waiting for the day.
 
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A few questions about the barrel, how do you draw a sample? Will you keg this once you are done or bottle? How long will you be leaving the stout in the barrel and are there any issues with evaporation? Sorry about the excessive curiosity!
 
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A few questions about the barrel, how do you draw a sample? Will you keg this once you are done or bottle? How long will you be leaving the stout in the barrel and are there any issues with evaporation? Sorry about the excessive curiosity!
Don’t be sorry, ask away. I’m hoping this thread might be useful for other folk wanting to try the same so the more questions the better in that regard.

I’ll draw a sample by removing the bung and using a pipette to draw off a sample.

I’m in two minds about kegging or bottling. I might even do both but the bottles will need to be 330ml I think, 500ml is a lot at 11.3%.

I’m thinking about a month in the barrel but in the end it’s the sampling that will inform my thinking. I want enough oak and bourbon to provide a nice flavour but not so much it dominates the beer. There will be some evaporation and some absorption I guess but the bung is a good fit and the barrel is being stored at about 13C so I’m not expecting big losses.

I’ll feed back on as much of this as I can as I discover the reality and that my assumptions are all wrong!
 

Clint

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I chose today as the day to transfer my imperial stout from the fermenters into the barrel, being three weeks in the fermenter.

First I got set up with the two fermenters and the barrel. Then to answer the question from @Brewnaldo concerning how much bourbon is absorbed by the barrel I drained the bourbon into a measuring jug. 600ml went in and about 460ml came out so not a lot taken up by the wood. This was after five days and frequent rolling of the barrel around the garden to keep all the surfaces wet. The barrel has had two weeks full of water so the barrel was already well soaked when the bourbon went in. I do want all the bourbon in the barrel so after measuring what was left I tipped it back in. I did have a taste of the drips left in the jug and there was a hint of oak in there.

View attachment 72811 View attachment 72812
I bet you was like Geoff Capes rolling that barrel round!
 
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