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Vicky Rowe
12-07-2004, 09:04 AM
Hi y'all,

I have a supply of 53 gallon American Oak brandy barrels available for sale, through a friend of mine.

They're located in the 64098 zip code, in Weston, MO, and I'll be selling them through Pirtle Winery and Scott Pirtle.

The cost is $70 per barrel, plus shipping. They weigh about 125 lbs., and will have to be either picked up, or shipped freight. I checked frieght costs via common carrier, and shipping will be in the vicinity of $85.00-150.00. This is a *very* rough estimate, and you'd want to check with various carriers to see what sort of shipping you could get, but thats the deal. Frankly, if you want one, and live within a couple hundred miles, I'd consider driving over to get one yourself. It would be cheaper from what it looks like....

I checked pricing on other barrels, and they seem to run over $200 for one this size, usually before shipping.

If you're interested, email me privately, and I'll hook you up.

Vicky - working on a billiards site and learning Dreamweaver on the fly

Oskaar
12-07-2004, 11:23 AM
Good deal on the barrels! You'll pick up a nice aroma and subtle flavor in mead that is aged in those barrels. Sounds nice!

Dreamweaver rocks, Fireworks rolls!

Oskaar

Talon
12-07-2004, 05:52 PM
Dreamweaver rocks, Fireworks rolls!

Long live Dreamweasel!

ScottS
12-07-2004, 06:37 PM
If you meet me half-way (somewhere in Illinois?), I'll take 2. ;D

Vicky Rowe
12-07-2004, 08:22 PM
I'm brokering them for another person, so if you want them, you'll either have to pick them up in MO, or have them shipped. I'm in NC, so I'm not anywhere near there.......sorry. The guy providing the barrels has a winery to run, and they're building on right now, so I can't hardly get him on the phone. His schedule is too booked to deliver the barrels, and for the price, we couldn't afford to...

Sorry Scott!

Vicky - wishing she could afford to buy a couple

Greenblood
12-15-2004, 10:27 AM
Right about the flavors. I live about 40 minnutes away from Pirtle, in Lawrence, KS, and make frequent visits to Weston. They use brandy barrels to age an apple wine that they make. It adds a very interesting character that I realy like. I would love to buy one of these barrels, if I had the space. Any way, I have never made any batches that are that large. I will have to pass this along to my friends here though.

Vicky Rowe
12-15-2004, 08:30 PM
Hi Greenblood,

Just have anyone you tell ask for Scott Pirtle, and tell them you heard about it on Gotmead from Vicky. They'll take care of it.

Vicky

jeebeel
12-15-2004, 08:47 PM
What treatment, if any, do oak barrels need before you can add your mead to them? Or do you just add you mead after fermentation is finished?

Oskaar
12-15-2004, 10:09 PM
Here's an article I stumbled across few years back that is pretty good and is geared toward wine barrels. You may want to check with your vendor about particulars for Brandy barrels. They should be pretty similar. Checking with a good cooper is also a good idea.

Here's the article:

If you have not purchased a brand new barrel or are using one that you know has only had wine in it, you need to smell the barrel. If it has a vinegar or moldy smell, do not use the barrel.
If the barrel has stored pickles, fish or any other substance other than wine, donít use the barrel. The odors of these substances have been absorbed into the wood and there is no way to remove them.

Assuming your barrel has no off odors and is apparently sound, fill the barrel with cold water and keep it full for 48 hours. If it leaks, you might try hammering the hoops until they are tight against the staves and soak for another 24 hours. If it still leaks, look for another barrel. Once you have determined that your (used) barrel is OK to use, fill the barrel with a solution (read on) of barrelkleen. Barrelkleen is a combination of sodium sesquicarbonate, soda ash and lye.

Mix one (1) pound of barrelkleen per five (5) gallons of hot water. A 30 gallon barrel will require 6 pounds of barrelkleen and 30 gallons of water. Leave this solution in the barrel for 24-48 hours.
This removes the excess tannins and allows the barrel to absorb water and swell so it wonít leak. After 48 hours, drain the barrel and flush with water until the water runs clear. Then mix eight (8) ounces of potassium metabisulfite and one (1) ounce of citric acid with one gallon of warm water. For a 30 gallon barrel you will need 3-5 gallons of this solution. Close the barrel and roll it so the solution touches the entire interior. This neutralizes any remaining alkali. Drain and rinse out the barrel. Now the barrel is ready for your wine.

A barrel must never be left empty for more than 2 hours after it has been conditioned.

You may wish to drill a spigot hole before filling with wine. Different size spigots will require different size holes. Size your spigot in a hole cut in paper or cardboard first. Drill a hole in the head or end of the barrel near the rim. Place a tapered cork in the hole. Make sure your cork fits the hole chosen for your spigot. A #14 cork fits a 1" hole. When the cork gets wet, it will swell and keep the hole from leaking. Hopefully you donít have a cat that will worry the cork until it comes out. (We winemakers can tell some of the most incredible horror stories!) When you are ready to transfer your wine from the barrel, cut the cork flush the head and drive the spigot into the barrel with a mallet. You may omit the spigot hole and transfer with a racking rod and siphon or a small pump from the travel bunghole which we assume you had a rubber bung in with an airlock.

If you are using a new barrel you may omit the barrelkleen step, or if you are more comfortable with its use, you may cut down on the exposure time to 12-24 hours. You must always neutralize the barrelkleen solution. (See above)

A small 5 gallon barrel will impart more than enough oak in 2 weeks or less. Wine in small barrels must be checked frequently for taste.

Finally, a barrel must never be left empty. Keeping it filled prevents the barrel from drying out, growing mold or going sour. If you donít have more wine to fill it with, flush the barrel with water until it runs clear. Fill the barrel with a solution of 1 tablespoon of metabisulfite and 2 teaspoons of critic acid for every 5 gallons of water. Replace this solution every three months or at least replenish the chemicals and top up the water.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

jeebeel
12-15-2004, 10:59 PM
Thanks for the article Oskaar. Good info.

Seeing as how you are such a good source for info, just a few more questions if you please:

1. What is your experience with barrels?
2. Do you use them just to condition the mead and then fill bottles or can you leave the mead in the barrel and drink directly from the barrel?
3. Problems with oxidation in a barrel that is less than full?

I have a couple of smaller batches going and, if feasible, it would be nice to put a batch in a barrel, leave it alone, and then drink over time straight from the barrel.

Thanks in advance.

Oskaar
12-16-2004, 06:05 AM
Howdy Jeebeel,

My experience with barrels is that we have two of the 55 gallon barrels in our family and we use them for wine. I personally have not put mead in any of our barrels as we use them for wine and I don't think they would be appropriate for the sweeter meads that I have been making, although at some point in the future I may try aging some dryer mead in one of them.

We use our barrels to condition the wine and when it is to the point that we like, we bottle it and drink it. My preference is to condition in the barrel but not dispense form it because of the repeated exposure to outside air, and the risk of introducting a mold, virus or bacteria that could contaminate the wine and ruin the barrel.

Oxidation in a barrel that is less than full is a big concern, which is why I don't tempt fate. I would rather just use the barrels for conditioning, or long term aging. Leaving a portion of the barrel less than full over an extended period of time is not, in my opinion, good for the barrel as one part of the barrel becomes dried while the other part is still in contact with the mead/wine. Any sloshing around would come into contact with that dry part and possibly impart some off flavors to your mead. Also the drying of part of the barrel just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

So for my part I like using the barrels to age, but not for dispensing and drinking from them. Also, if it was a good idea, or even more cost effective I think we would see a preponderance of wineries doing this in their tasting rooms which is not the case. There is a huge investment in cooperage by wineries and they want to preserve that.

Last week I was at a tasting in Orange County hosted by Rosenblum Cellars who produce about 27 different wines. The hostess told me that their annual cooperage budget is on the order of $750,000 and they plan on increasing that next year. By the way, they'll be releasing the 2003 Richard Sauret vineyard (Paso Robles, CA) which is at the Top of Oskaar's favorites soon to be released list (http://www.rosenblumcellars.com/in03znpr.htm). I also was pumping her for fermentation and yeast information and she was very knowledgeable on both subjects. She also pointed me in the direction of the winemaker so I'll be speaking with him next week.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

jeebeel
12-16-2004, 08:45 PM
Thanks Oskaar.

That helps a lot (as your posts always do). You confirmed what I had suspected about the use of an oak barrel for dispensing vs. aging.

BTW, given your earlier comments on oak and your jos and kens, may I assume the presence of a fellow aikidoka who enjoys his wine and mead after a good session on the mat?

Cheers!

Oskaar
12-16-2004, 11:46 PM
Pretty much! ;D


Cheers,

Oskaar