Barrel aging cider is as old as time. Considering that, one would think that it should be pretty straight forward to pour fresh pressed apple juice into a barrel and create a delicious end product. Right? Wrong!
Barrels require preparation and maintenance to make sure that the end product is well balanced. In essence, you are not only managing the cider, but the wood too since both are alive with microorganisms.
In this chat we delve into reusing a barrel that was originally charred, then had whiskey added. Breuckelen Distillery the original owner of the 25 gallon barrel sold it to Exhibit A Brewing Company. Matt Steinberg owner and brewer of Exhibit A put an Imperial Stout in the barrel.
I purchased the empty barrel from Matt for cider and share with you my long weekend of discovery on preparing the barrel for cider in this chat.
The goal is to keep the wood staves moist and swollen so once the cider is added it doesn’t leak. In addition, funky bacterias like acetobacter and wild yeasts must be kept out so your barrel doesn’t begin to smell like vinegar.
But How to Set up and Prepare a Used Barrel for Cider?
First a warning everyone should heed: If your barrel had spirits avoid using a sulfur stick as it can inflame the residual spirits and make that barrel explosive.
- Some say add citric acid and SO2.
- Matt said to rinse the barrel with warm water, empty it, and then wrap in in plastic wrap. I figured this would become an even more inviting environment for those funky bacterias that can really messed up your cider.
I decided to add water and SO2.
Fingers crossed, as I will be getting back to how the barrel rolls in follow up episodes of Cider Chat.
Cool words and Vocabulary you should know
Amphora – clay vessels used to hold wine. Made by potters and used by the Egyptions and Romans
Kveri – a larger version of the amphora that was placed in the ground and used to make wine. Listen to episode 011-Geoff Richardson | Castle Hill Cider, Virginia Castle Hill makes cider at their onsite Kveris! Too Cool!!!
Vinny Nail – Vinny Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company is the man behind the nail that brewers put into a barrel and use it to take samples.
Mentions in this chat!
Eve’s Cidery special August deal for Cider Chat listeners
Ask for the following 7 #CiderGoingUP Campaign cider supporters – By supporting these cider makers, you in turn help Ciderville.
- Kurant Cider – Pennsylvania : listen to Joe Getz on episode 14
- Big Apple Hard Cider – NYC : listen to Danielle von Scheiner on episode 35
- Oliver’s Cider and Perry – Herefordshire/UK ; listen to Tom Oliver on episode 29
- Santa Cruz Cider Company – California : listen to Nicole Todd on episode 60
- The Cider Project aka EthicCider– California
- Albermale CiderWorks : listen to Chuck Shelton on episode 56
- Cider Summit : listen to Alan Shapiro founder of this cider fest on episode 75.
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