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Barrel aging - when to transfer?

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philistine

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Afternoon All,

Ive got this imperial porter in the fermenter and its destined for barrel aging.
Ive never done it before and just wondering if its best to transfer from fermenter to barrel before or after fermentation is finished?
Im just thinking that racking into the barrel while there's still a little bit of activity would be better as it would help purge the headspace in the barrel of o2.
any thoughts?

Cheers!
 

bradsbrew

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The barrel should chew a point or 2 and the barrel will have some o2 present either way.
 
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Afternoon All,

Ive got this imperial porter in the fermenter and its destined for barrel aging.
Ive never done it before and just wondering if its best to transfer from fermenter to barrel before or after fermentation is finished?
Im just thinking that racking into the barrel while there's still a little bit of activity would be better as it would help purge the headspace in the barrel of o2.
any thoughts?

Cheers!
What sort of barrel? You could put some corn sugar (dissolved in boiling water) into the barrel, not much mind, and let it ferment venting the barrel as you go. Not fool proof as the air and CO2 will mix together.
 

philistine

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Its a wooden barrel. Will have an airlock fitted
 

droid

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kewl - how much head-space will you have?
what abv are you going for ?
how far off your expected FG are you currently?
the advice I was given a few years back with my RIS-in- a-barrel was to transfer to barrel with a couple of points to go. I think I transferred at 1020 and got to 2016 but I did that 4 times with 4 brews to fill the bloody thing - turned out alright tho. Transfer with a hose or pipe that will be sitting under the beer asap when filling
will the barrel be the same temp - how are you controlling temp?

I dry-hopped my RIS with fuggles because of the concern about infection but it was fine - the higher abv helps, so they say
dont forget to factor in the angels share or whatever it's called - the liquid you'll lose to the wood you won't get back
 

Lyrebird_Cycles

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What sort of barrel?
Its a wooden barrel. Will have an airlock fitted
I think he meant what size barrel.

BTW I don't use airlocks when barrel fermenting, I put a scoop of clean sand into a sandwich bag and pop it over the bunghole. You can tell when the ferment is finished by sticking your ear in the bunghole and listening. When the crackle subsides, replace the bag with a silicone bung.

dont forget to factor in the angels share or whatever it's called - the liquid you'll lose to the wood you won't get back
It's mostly evaporation: it is noticeably worse in a non-humidified barrel room. I currently have 75 barrels in a big tin shed half way up the western side of the great divide, the angels are obviously thirsty.
 
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philistine

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I think he meant what size barrel.

BTW I don't use airlocks when barrel fermenting, I put a scoop of clean sand into a sandwich bag and pop it over the bunghole. You can tell when the ferment is finished by sticking your ear in the bunghole and listening. When the crackle subsides, replace the bag with a silicone bung.
Ahh, ok - yeah makes sense :doofus:- 20lt ex-whiskey barrel, but I think the actual capacity is closer to 23lt.
Just to clarify, primary ferment is in a carboy. Just using the barrel to 'age' and flavour

kewl - how much head-space will you have?
what abv are you going for ?
how far off your expected FG are you currently?
the advice I was given a few years back with my RIS-in- a-barrel was to transfer to barrel with a couple of points to go. I think I transferred at 1020 and got to 2016 but I did that 4 times with 4 brews to fill the bloody thing - turned out alright tho. Transfer with a hose or pipe that will be sitting under the beer asap when filling
will the barrel be the same temp - how are you controlling temp?
Im guessing roughly 2lt headspace
OG was 1.092, Aiming for FG of around 1.020-22 = 9%abv
Haven't been sampling for gravity because my refracto is f-ing stupid and I dont wanna be pulling out 250ml samples to use a hydrom... but will do one now I guess....
Barrel will sit this weird cupboard that we inherited with the house.... its a pretty old house and it almost looks liek the cupboard was an old larder or something that was then used to house a hot water unit... theres a hole in the "floor" and another in the "ceiling" and the door is thick and lined on the inside with something (probably asbestos). The end result is a cupboard that seems really well insulated with a noticable draw of draught from under the house that keep it generally cooler than the rest of the house (when Im not opening the door to look at my ferments every 10 minutes that is...)
Anyway, the barrels probably gonna end up sitting at a fairly consistant 17-20 degrees for the next few months at least
 

Lyrebird_Cycles

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Im guessing roughly 2lt headspace
Just to be clear: 10% headspace is OK during ferment (as long as the ferment is not too vigorous) but it is a terrible idea for aging. Once the ferment is finished, make sure the barrel is full and that you keep it that way.

The ullage that forms from evaporation is OK as long as the barrel is not opened: if the bung is ever removed* (or if it becomes loose) the ullage must be topped up. Given that the loss is largely evaporation, don't be afraid to top it with a lesser beer: what you've lost is essentially water plus alcohol.

*If everything is as it should be there will be a whooshing sound when you open the barrel as air rushes in to relieve the vacuum formed from evaporation.
 
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philistine

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so from that im thinking, regardless of how far along the ferment is, Im gonna have to top up the barrel anyway - so I may as well throw it in now while there's still a bit of activity, make a point of NOT taking out the bung at any stage until ive made a small batch of porter to use to top up.
 

philistine

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it just so happens Ive got 1.5lt leftover wort from this very batch that I was gonna use as gyle for priming at bottling time...
Now Im wondering if I should just chuck it in to make up the volume needed to fill the barrel.... Whaddya reckon?
 

Lyrebird_Cycles

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Sounds like a plan. Just make sure there is enough headspace for the krausen. That being said, one of the advantages of the sandbag stopper is that it's really easy to clean if you misjudge the required headspace.


Fun fact: a winery at which I once worked bought a commercial wet street sweeper to clean the white barrel room floor, judging the correct level of headspace for barrel ferments is harder than it looks.
 
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philistine

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In this sitcho i reckon the foam that piles up when i add the unfermented wort to the batch will be a messier issue than the krausen....
 
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