Beer Run: Barrel Filling Day

Imagine four kegs rolled down the highway at 70MPH. The kegs contained a homebrewed Belgian Dark Strong beer for the barrel project. There are 11 home brewers working together on this project.

Last week six of us gathered to build the Pink Panther insulated barrel aging chamber. CH was able to finish construction despite the rain. We also inverted and caramelized 20 pounds of sugar and brewed 15 gallons of wort to top up the barrel. JB did much of the sugar dilution. While I supervised in general. It was amazing conducting brewing in my one car garage crowed with fermentation freezers and power tools. I had to move the two lawnmowers outside and place a dead fridge on the curb. We racked one from the fermentor saving the yeast to ferment the high gravity secondary wort.

I spent the following week preparing a chest freezer to function as an air handler. The design would exchange cold air for warm air allowing us to age the beer at a set temperature. I finished late Friday night. The next morning I arrived at OG's to pick up the fermented beer. We racked the beer before transporting to cut down on the lees post aging.

Once home four of us filled the barrel and added 3lbs fresh oak. The surface area of the oak added is equivalent to the barrel heads. I am expecting this will take four mouths of aging.

Project Timeline:
Week 1: Brew Base Wort & Ferment
Week 3: Brew Secondary with sugar addition & Ferment
Week 4: Barrel Preparation, Rack and Fill
Week 8: Sample, Check Gravity, Change Blowoff
Months: Bottle with Belgian Corks and Cages  

Beer & CO2 into the barrel O2 out the foil is a dustcover.  

The gravity should fall to 1.012 over time. While not as dark as I intended, this beer is great!  

Works Cited:


  1. Very nice! I knew I should have called you when I was in Dallas... Dang...

  2. great pics and cool project! FYI, I usually add about 2oz of toasted oak per 10 gals beer to my long term aging projects. with a 60 gallon barrel, that equates to 12oz of toasted oak (assuming the barrel is neutral). with 3 lbs of (toasted?) oak cubes in there I would start checking the beer after a month to see if it has your desired level of oak character. looking forward to the results!

  3. Iain, stop by anytime your in Dallas. We will celebrate have a beer and listen to some James Brown, Billie Holiday, and my new Queen Nina Simone.

    ssf, good tip. We have a considerable amount of oak in the barrel. I plan to check the integration and pull it off at the desired level. We want the early creaminess, vanilla, and sweet oak. Bottle aging should drop the early spice notes yet accentuate the Belgian yeast notes. That's all theory. I plan to pull the beer when it's ready.

    The barrel is neutral with very little oak remaining. The fresh oak dominoes are medium toasted. Now that the beer is in we wait to taste the result. Stay tuned!

  4. Will do. I picked up a stack of Nina Simone records two years ago for a $1 each. She is incredible. I'll plan this next trip better. We were in town to see Adam Ant at the Granada Theater. Some friends made me go but it was really good. The Granada Theater was amazing.