Saturday, March 27, 2010

Darrel the Feral Barrel

Say hello to my little friend! Meet Darrel, as soon as I get him in shape he's going to get filled up with delicious sour red wort. I'll introduce him to Roeselare Blend and they'll get nice and friendly too.

A bunch of the lads scored a half dozen spirit barrels from Lost Abbey. This one is a former Heaven Hill bourbon barrel that the Abbey used for spicing up some Angels Share. We got these in pretty rough shape, bone dry with the stave bands falling off. I got Darrel home, jammed the hoops further up the barrel a bit to secure them, and popped the bung out. Took a whiff, nothing. I expected something from it's previous life, a bit of whiskey or rich strong ale aroma. No dice. Oh well, not too disappointed really, I want the real estate for sour beer not necessarily for ze bourbon.

First step: Rehydration! Standing on end and hosing down, water just leaked through between the barrel head and the stave ends. Bummer. Nice sieve though. Layed him down and did the best I could to fill him up. Which was the routine for the next week, each day gaining a little ground on tightening up. The picture here is Darrel at the end of the first week after holding water down to about 4" from the bung. Good enough to get on him on end to get the heads soaking from the inside. Maybe a couple days on each end and then I can get him cleaned and sulfured in preparation for a marathon brewing session.

Interestingly though, when I siphoned the water out so I could tip him up, I found the bourbon. Smells like a tanker of whiskey crashed in my backyard. May end up with a bourbon barrel red after all.

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