hist-brewing: lined barrels?

ulfin at portup.com ulfin at portup.com
Wed May 9 10:04:16 PDT 2001

Me (grumpy): Plastic bags?  This thread isn't about the
historical practices used in brewing.

Me (with a cool pint in hand): No, it's about the practices
of contemporary brewers re-creating historical beverages.
And beverages were invented for drinking, not brewing.
Serving it in a manner functionally similar to a historical
practice can be part of the re-creation.  A cask (even a
fake one) is more appropriate for some beverages than
modern wine bottles.

Ralph Barker writes:

>They  are small 1-2.5 gallon barrels that were lined in plastic
>(i.e. reusable and  easy to clean). The one shown to me was tapped
>and came with a stand.     Anyone with any ideas on where to find
>these please let  me know.

I see that G.W. Kent (a brewing supplies distributor in Ann
Arbor, MI) has a French oak barrel designed to hold a 5-liter
bag-in-box-type wine bag.  It comes with a stand. I assume
the barrel end with the spigot hole in it is removable. Does
not include spigot or wine bladder.  Probably intended for
commercial wines, but I don't know much about bag-in-box wines
(I didn't realize that wine bags could be removed from the box,
but apparently so, else I doubt this thing would work).  Surely
just for still beverages in any case.

I noticed a 5.5L wine bladder in the Crosby & Baker catalog;
I don't know if it would be compatible.

Both G.W.Kent and Crosby & Baker are wholesale only; you
would have to find a retailer who has an account with them
for further research and to order the items.

Most shops are happy to special order for you any item they
don't normally stock (provided they can get it from one of
their regular suppliers); some may require payment in advance.
If a shop doesn't carry the item you want, don't assume they
don't want to sell it to you.  Oddball items are inventory
deadweight; it's too risky sink money into stock that may
never sell.  They would rather order these on a per-demand

If you're interested in those or similar items, I suggest
you check with your local winemaking supplies retailers
(if any).

Failing that, my store has accounts with both the companies
I mentioned (that's how I know what's in their catalogs, heh).
We don't usually do mail order, but will if you're in a
pinch.  I haven't researched either item to determine
suitability for your purpose, nor have I figured out what
it would cost (not cheap--rough guess on the keg would be
$160-190 plus shipping).

Another item that might sorta fit your description is the
Party Pig.  It a vaguely cask-shaped PETE bottle that has an
expanding gas bladder in it to push out the beer (or wine/mead
--I'm pretty sure it can dispense still beverages without
carbonating them). Certainly wasn't used in pre-modern times,
nor is it a fitting presentation at reenactments (so toss a
piece of fabric over it), but it does provide a convenient
cask alternative for transporting beverages that wouldn't have
been in bottles anyway (like early ales).
Check www.partypig.com for description and suppliers.

Dan Butler-Ehle

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