Whiskey Barrel options?


Trial Member
May 29, 2013
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I've recently picked up a 5 gallon whiskey barrel and trying to decide on what to put in it first. Eventually I'm going to be putting sours in it but I"m not sure if I should start that way right off the bat or not. I don't know if the whiskey is going to be too overpowering for a sour beer. I know Stouts and Barleywines go well with whiskey barrels but I thought about doing a something like a higher gravity Flemish ale with 100% Brett Lambicus. I just don't know if I want to add bugs to it as well or just stick with the Brett. If I do add the bugs I'll have to completely change the hops and use some of the aged ones I have. For those that have used barrels before what do you think?

Original Gravity: 1.069
Final Gravity: 1.007
ABV (standard): 8.15%
IBU (tinseth): 50.53
SRM (morey): 20.06

Yeast: Wyeast - Brettanomyces lambicus 5526

4 lb - Belgian - Munich (29.4%)
4 lb - Belgian - Pilsner (29.4%)
8 oz - American - Caramel / Crystal 40L (3.7%)
8 oz - American - Caramel / Crystal 60L (3.7%)
1.5 lb - Belgian - Wheat (11%)
1.5 oz - German - Carafa II (0.7%)
3 lb - Cherry Puree - (late addition) (22.1%) - added at high krausen!

1 oz - Cascade, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Boil for 20 min, IBU: 15.26
0.5 oz - Columbus, Type: Pellet, AA: 15, Use: Boil for 20 min, IBU: 16.35
1 oz - Cascade, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Boil for 10 min, IBU: 9.13
0.5 oz - Columbus, Type: Pellet, AA: 15, Use: Boil for 10 min, IBU: 9.79
1 oz - Cascade, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days
2 oz - Columbus, Type: Pellet, AA: 15, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days
in my opinion you can only have one type of beer in a barrel, the flavor and or sour will stay in the barrel, very hard to disinfect for beer over and over so start out with as clean as possible and soak it in star-sans over night between batches, if you have to you can burn the inside if infection sets in
Our club has a barrel, it was used for whiskey then one batch at a brewery. we did a imperial stout and then a barley wine, both pulled in lots of whiskey notes, we just recently put in a wild sour beer, can't wait rfor that one. I guess we hat I am trying to say is you may get a couple good whiskey beers before a sour.

BTW, where did you find a 5 gallon one?
Thanks for the input. I got the barrel from Rocky Mountain Barrel Co.. They are local to me so I stopped by the shop and they just happened to have a few 5 gallon whiskey barrels available. The barrels were used by DownSlope. The best part was Crooked Stave's storage area was right next door and they took me over there to check it out. It smelled awesome!

I've been looking for a smaller 15-30 gallon wine barrel but I haven't been able to find one like that. 60 gallon barrels are easy to find but I can't fill that myself and don't really have a place to put it either.

Do you guys think the whiskey flavoring will go well with a sour? I can always blend if its too much but I'm not sure if they will go good together.
I personally don't think the whiskey flavors you'll extract from your barrel will compliment a sour, but that's just one person's opinion.

Also don't put Star-San in a whiskey barrel. You just need to look into with a flashlight and make sure there is no debris inside. Also, smell the inside. You're looking for a sweet, whiskey smell with no mustiness or other weird odor.

You then need to "swell" the barrel with water. Read this first.