hist-brewing: Oak Barrel

ulfin at mail.portup.com ulfin at mail.portup.com
Thu May 6 17:02:59 PDT 1999

Nathi writes:

>Local brew shops usually can get American Oak 5 gal. barrels for about
>$125-135.  You can get french oak barrels for about $185-$200 but they
>are harder to find.

As a supplies guy, I can tell you that any decent homebrew supply
shop would be happy to special order for you any item they don't
stock (provided it's available to them). (Or you could go to some
garage shop on the Web and order one; guess what...garage shops
on the Web usually stock even less than your local homebrew
shop so the wait is typically even longer.)  Do not assume that
if it's not on the shelf, they won't be willing to get it for

I know that LD Carlson (a supplies wholesaler) carries unwaxed,
untoasted American white oak barrels in a variety of sizes. GW
Kent (another wholesaler) carries unwaxed, lightly toasted
French Nevers oak barrels.  FH Steinbart also carries American
oak barrels.  These, of course, are wholesale only, but your
local homebrew shop probably has an account with at least one
such wholesaler who carries barrels.  You just have to ask.

>There is a product called barrel-kleen (also from St Pats or
>your local) that will remove some of the problem oak tannins.

Barrol-Kleen is just a mix of lye (like Red Devil drain cleaner)
and soda ash (a.k.a. sodium carbonate a.k.a. washing soda, like
Arm & Hammer brand laundry water softener). Anderson & Hull's
_The Art of Making Wine_ suggests a recipe of 1 pound soda ash
and 2 teaspoons of lye (not sure if that's lye crystals or lye
solution) to five gallons of water.  Let soak 2-3 days, repeat
at least three times.  If you don't have those ingredients on
hand, Barrol-Kleen is pretty cheap--no need to avoid it if you can
get it.

Dan Butler-Ehle

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