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Maturing In A Wooden Keg

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Gop

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Hi.

I've been making my brews (mead and cider) in a 20ish litre plastic linda beer keg, and a few weeks after it stopped bubbling, putting it straight into bottles and leaving those to mature. So far the results have been acceptable (I prefer dry cider and don't care if it's got bubbles or not).

I've been thinking on getting a nice oak cask to put the brew in after it finishes in the plastic beer keg. I'd use the keg like in ye olde times but the plastic keg has an airlock, rubber seals etc. and might be a better and cleaner bet so the brew wasn't contaminated while the yeast worked.

Questions:

1. I read folks often remove their brew to a secondary keg and let it age some before bottling. This would add a step to my procedure. Is this necessary? I guess it would allow you to remove more of the sediment. I'd have to buy another plastic beer keg for this :lol:

2. Can the brew go straight from the plastic keg to eg. an oak cask and happily mature in that up to the drinking stage?

3. After the oak cask was empty, would it be necessary to clean this out if it was kept sealed? Could the next batch be poured in, or would a good hose out be in order? Would it need a proper star san cleanout?
 

mikk

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Oak casks can be a pain in the bum to maintain/clean/own/use. Do you really want oak flavour & oxidisation in a cider? Are you wanting to drink it straight from the keg?

i'd be inclined to leave casks to winemakers. If you want oak flavour, use oak cubes/chips in your (plastic) fermenter. You say you don't want to add a step & use a secondary fermenter, but isn't this what the oak cask would be?

What exactly are you trying to achieve by using an oak cask?
 

Gop

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Oak was really just an example. I wanted to move the brew from the primary fermenter, straight into a secondary storage place (eg. cask). It doesn't have to be oak or anything in particular. I suppose a stainless steel keg would be better to avoid taste changes?

The point was that I read that after primary, most people put into a secondary to age and let more of the sediment settle (I'm guessing) before bottling. I was just wondering if the brew could just age in a cask without bottlling, hence removing the middle step. Then the cider could be consumed straight from the keg after 3+ months of aging, and the sediment SHOULD settle onto the bottom of the keg if it wasn't disturbed too much. Does that sound like it will work?
 

Trippers

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If your worried about clarity (sediment dropping out i'd be inclined to use some fining, rack it or cold chill the fermenter in the fridge for a couple of weeks. A wooden barrel will oxidise the cider and give it a pretty funky taste IMO. If your happy with the cider you make and then i would steer clear of the wooden barrel.
Cheers
 
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