Small Oak Barrels

Oak Aging Barrels

Whiskey Barrels for Sale | Whiskey’s Most Important Ingredient: The Oak Barrel

What makes a good whiskey? If you were to round up a dozen whiskey enthusiasts from around the world, you would likely get 12 uniquely different answers. They all have one thing in common though, they all agree that whiskey barrels for sale are one of the greatest ways to understand and appreciate whiskey. 

Every whiskey starts with the same raw materials: water, barley and yeast, just like beer. These basic ingredients form the base that is responsible for ensuring the right balance. In fact, the American Distilling Institute points out that beer is a step in the whiskey-making process. Beer is another way to say, “whiskey wash.” In the simplest terms, at the stage of whiskey wash, the liquid could be distilled to make whiskey, or brewed to make beer.

Every whiskey has a story to tell that is uniquely its own, a textured tale that comes together over time as it ages in a whiskey barrel. There are over 600 species of oak trees but it’s the American White Oak that gives whiskey its unique flavor. Just as each American White Oak is its own living entity, every whiskey barrel has a unique compound of flavors consisting of lignin, lactones, and tannins.

Without time in oak barrels, whiskey would remain a fiery clear liquid, without the nutty caramel and vanilla notes we all love. The longer the liquor sits in a whiskey barrel, the smoother the flavor will become.

Anything being aged inside the American oak barrel—be it whiskey, wine or something else—will be influenced by a number of factors:

  • Growth rate of the trees
  • Method and length of time to dry the wood
  • Toasting and charring during cooperage
  • The environment inside the barrel
  • Compounds in the wood
  • Blends from interior charring
  • The climate where the barrel is stored

DIY With Whiskey Barrels For Sale

Any whiskey or wine connoisseur knows the difference between a quality drink and one that’s low budget. There are reasons top shelf liquor commands higher prices and one of those reasons is the time it takes to make the better brands. Jameson Irish Whiskey, for example, is barrel aged for a minimum of four years, while Canadian Crown was originally sold as a 10-year aged whiskey.

You can make your own top shelf varieties of whiskey or any kind of liquor, wine or beer by buying empty small whiskey barrels for sale. At Red Head Barrels, we always have new whiskey barrels for sale and sometimes even have a used whiskey barrel for sale. Our oak whiskey barrels come in a variety of sizes—as small as 1 Liter—and will deliver top shelf results in a matter of weeks, not years.

To make your own liquor, you can start with a low-end whiskey or tequila and simply cork it in a new whiskey barrel for several weeks. Our small whiskey barrels are small enough that the surface area encounters more of the liquor inside, accelerating the process.

Another way to make premium liquor in a whiskey barrel is to start with grain alcohol and add a flavor essence made by Red Head Barrels. Here are six easy steps for DIY spirits:

  1. Cure your wooden barrel. Curing is necessary to get rid of any bacteria and eliminate any leaks.
  2. Fill the barrel about halfway with a neutral-flavored spirit such as vodka or grain alcohol for bourbon, scotch, whiskey, brandy, or vodka essences. If you want to use a rum essence, start with a clear, flavorless rum.
  3. Pour your flavor essence into the spirit barrel. Use one bottle of flavor essence for each liter of alcohol.
  4. Fill the barrel the rest of the way and place the bung in the hole on top.
  5. Avoid the temptation to open the barrel for two weeks.
  6. The fun part: taste your liquor. If you like the savor, it’s time to start drinking. If you don’t want the flavor to change, pour the liquor into a bottle. If you would like to age it further, leave it in the barrel for another week, then taste again. Once you have consumed all your alcohol, visit our website to order more essences for next time.

Why Oak Matters When Aging Whiskey (Or Any Spirit)

The American white oak barrel is what accounts for whiskey’s unique flavor profile. Due to its natural strength and durability, the American white oak is also ideal when you’re looking for wooden whiskey barrels for sale. The wood cells of white oak trees contain tyloses that make it waterproof and a large volume of medullary rays that contribute to its strength.

White oak also lets oxygen in, helping diffuse the contents. Chemical reactions change the color and mellow the flavors, just as the charring and curing add different flavor notes and affect the mouthfeel. American oak is denser than French oak and has different lactone levels. American oak also doesn’t have resin canals that can pass along unappealing flavors to maturing spirits.

American White Oak is used at most distilleries and wineries across the United States. After aging whiskey in Tennessee, and bourbon in Kentucky, American oak barrels travel over to Scotland to mature Scotch and Ireland to age whiskey. While in the U.S. whiskey is aged in only new barrels, in Ireland, used barrels are the norm.

At Red Head Barrels, our wooden whiskey barrels for sale are handcrafted by our own coopers using a medium char, which we have found is the most universal for aging spirits. We source our American White Oak from a variety of forests across the continental U.S., including California, Missouri and sometimes Kentucky.

All About The American White Oak & The Cooper

The American white oak—Quercus species—is unique to North America and is one of the most popular species in export markets from American hardwood forests. The white oak classification is the most common species group, accounting for about 33% of the American hardwood resource. The characteristics of white oaks vary depending on the where they’re grown. Southern regions grow faster and produce wood with more open grain and texture than northern regions, which have a longer growth season and produce less sapwood.

The trees are harvested in a sustainable manner that promotes regeneration. For barrel-making purposes, logs are sawed in quarters to produce staves with the maximum strength and leak resistance. This is where the cooper comes in. Coopers are the craftspeople who make the wooden barrels. When it comes to brown spirits especially, the barrel is arguably the single most important step in the production process.

Coopers date to Celtic times and were valued craftsmen in colonial America and throughout our history. The skilled coopers at Red Head Barrels make each barrel by hand and each is as unique as the tree and stave it’s built from.

If you’re looking for whiskey barrels for sale, look no further than Red Head Barrels. Our multigenerational team of professional coopers expertly handcraft our barrels by sanding and tapering the oak staves, so they perfectly fit the hoops without nails or glue. During the assembly process, the barrel is also perfectly fired with a medium char.

Each of our barrels come with a wooden spigot, bung and stand. Our oak aging barrels come in 1 Liter, 2 Liter, 3 Liter, 5 Liter, 10 Liter and 20 Liter sizes. Some of the other barrels we offer:

  • Bag-n-Barrels. Pour your own wine into our bags and use our barrel as a beautiful dispenser.
  • Ageless Oak Barrels. These barrels are lined on the inside with beeswax, so you can store and dispense the drinks of your choice without changing the flavor.
  • Cigar Barrels. Our cigar barrels can be soaked with your favorite liquid to infuse your pipe tobacco, cigar or even a pack of cigarettes.
  • Personalized Barrels. Any of our barrels can be engraved for any occasion and make great gifts.
  • Decorative Barrels. We have ice buckets, vases and even  man cave decor.

 Anatomy Of A Whiskey Barrel

Although coopering is a complicated craft, the barrel itself is really quite simple and made up of just a few parts. First, long pieces of oak called staves are carefully crafted to make up the body of the barrel. The staves are seasoned outdoors for two or three years and then cut at an angle, arranged in a circle, and carefully bent into shape with the grain running parallel along the length of the barrel.

Timber and steel are typically the only materials allowed in barrel making. Heat and pressure from metal hoops help bend the staves into place. There is no glue or silicone, no nails or screws, only the occasional river reed to help seal the top of the barrel.

Other parts to a wooden whiskey barrel:

  • Head. The flat circular top and bottom of the barrel that can be customized in any number of ways.
  • Chime. The beveled edge of the barrel made up of the ends of the staves.
  • Hoops. Metal parts around the barrel that hold the staves together.
  • Bilge. The widest part of the barrel.
  • Bung hole. The hole in one of the barrel’s staves used to fill up and empty the barrels.
  • Bung. Wooden or silicone stopper used to close hermetically the bung hole.

Benefits Of Barrel Aging Beer And Wine (Or Anything)

Whiskey barrels are most associated with aging whiskey and other brown spirits, but barrel aging is growing in popularity among wine and beer drinkers. Because wooden whiskey barrels are crafted with minimal toasting of the wood, barrel aged wines develop hints of clove, cinnamon and allspice. When sipped, people notice caramel, vanilla and even buttery flavor notes.

While wine is aging in the barrel, the oak slowly imparts its flavors and colors. A white wine will take on a darker yellow; red wine will deepen in hue. In terms of flavors, vanilla is usually most prominent, along with hints of mocha, caramel, toffee and honey.

The surge in craft brewers, particularly India Pale Ales, has made barrel aging beer more popular. Time in the barrel causes the bitterness of hops to softens and malt to intensify. Sherry-like notes develop over time making for a complex and unique flavor.

Sometimes, beer is purposely aged in barrels that once housed wine, rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, and other spirits. This not only imparts the unique characters of the oak, but the flavor of what has previously in the barrel.

If you’re looking for whiskey barrels for sale, you might not have considered the many things you can do with that barrel aside age liquor, wine or beer. Foodies, chefs and hobbyists have been experimenting with barrels for years to enhance the flavor of pickles, peppers, condiments, sauces—even ice cream.

Charred barrels produce the best barrel aged food, and a barrel that formerly contained spirits can give you an even more interesting flavor enhancement. Try our specialty barrels:

  • Kombucha Barrels. Try a barrel for your next batch of kombucha and you’ll be surprised at how much stronger and tastier it is.
  • Pickle & Hot Sauce Barrels. Chefs and gourmands have been elevating the flavors of pickles and hot sauces for years—now you can too.

The Red Head Barrel Difference

Red Head Barrels sells handmade American oak barrels specially designed for aging and mellowing rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, brandy, wine, beer and more. Proprietor Steve Mayes—AKA Red—experimented with barrel aging for many years before opening Red Head Oak Barrels in 2013.

A U.S. Navy Veteran, his business philosophy is to over-deliver and give his customers more than they expect. A Baton Rouge native living in Dallas for over 25 years, Red Head Barrels believes in “lagniappe,” an expression in Louisiana that means “a little extra.”

We have a variety of recipes and whiskey making kits, so you can turn ordinary spirits into top shelf liquor for a fraction of the price. Make your own flavored Canadian, Kentucky, Tennessee, or Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, Spiced Rums, and more at home for about $10 a fifth.

We have hundreds of 5-star reviews and stand behind every product we make. Call us with any questions you may have at 469-969-0449 or see our website for more information.

All of our Oak Aging Barrels are handcrafted and made of white oak, a standard because of their strength. They also have adequate sugar content and other properties that make them excellent choices for storing and aging tequila, bourbon, rum, wine and whiskeys, besides other types of alcoholic beverages. A multi-generational team of professional expert coopers make our wooden staved vessels by sanding and tapering the oak staves so that they fit the hoops perfectly without nails and glue. The oak whiskey aging barrel is perfectly charred during assembly. This charring process caramelizes the sugar in the wood and this is what gives the stored spirits the caramel character as well as the essence of sweet vanilla. Each oak aging barrels comes with a wooden spigot, a bung, a stand and a medium char.

Flavor Infused Barrels

Red Head Barrels has introduced the Flavor Infused Barrel.  This is where we cure the barrel for you but instead of just curing it with water we cure it with the liquor flavor of your choice.  This adds a some great flavor that what you want to age in the barrel.  It also gives you an opportunity to try a flavor you have never tried before.  For example you could order a bourbon infused barrel from us then age your tequila in it.  You may find that quite tasty. Or you could order an oak barrel that has been infused and cured with Irish whiskey then age your own homemade version with our Irish whiskey essence and vodka.  This will eliminate the need for you to cure the barrel when you receive it. All you do is pour  your liquor in and let the aging begin. Not to mention it keeps your liquor from soaking in to the barrel since ours has already done it.

Personalized Whiskey Barrel

Why You Need A Personalized Whiskey Barrel

Imagine serving friends your signature drink from your own personalized whiskey barrel, right in your very own home.

If you like to have a drink now and again, you probably know the difference between top shelf liquor and the less expensive, bottom shelf booze. And if you enjoy top shelf liquor, you likely appreciate the subtle difference a simple ingredient or a distiller’s touch can make in a fine whiskey.

You also probably know how the star ingredient in the entire whiskey making process is the whiskey barrel itself, none other than the American White Oak Barrel. Whiskey would not be whiskey without the authentic 100 percent American White Oak barrel.

Having your very own personalized whiskey barrel with your own unique top shelf whiskey inside is more than just a potential hobby or a great gift—it could be a focal point when entertaining friends. You could personalize the whiskey barrel with the brand name of the new spirit you create, a funky logo for your brand, your family name or crest, or anything that’s uniquely you.

If you’re considering a personalized whiskey barrel, make sure it is a 100 percent American White Oak barrel so you get the authentic taste you are looking for. Red Head Barrels are handmade in Texas from trees cultivated from a variety of forests across the continental United States, including California, Missouri and sometimes Kentucky.

Our barrels are made by genuine Coopers, craftsmen in the time honored field of barrel making. Our multigenerational team of professional coopers expertly handcraft our barrels by sanding and tapering the oak staves, so they perfectly fit the hoops without nails or glue. During the assembly process, the barrel is also perfectly fired with a medium char. It comes delivered to you with a wooden spigot, bung and stand.

Our personalized oak barrels are a great way to put the special personal touch on any gift. Whether you are giving your Captain a military retirement gift or grandpa a birthday present they will love it. We can engraved insignias, military logos, company logo, family crests, nicknames, birthday, anniversaries, weddings, groomsmen, Christmas, college graduation, corporate gifts and more. They look great on a desk, kitchen counter, home bar, man cave, home-office and even in your basement sports zone.

The Future of Whiskey Is In Your Own Barrel

Connoisseurs of fine spirits, wine and beer know a good drink when they’re sipping one. Whiskey drinkers notably love an exceptional bottle of whiskey and look for any reason to call it something special. Over the decades of modern whiskey culture, whiskey makers have attempted to deliver on that demand by creating a rubric for “special.” Of the many ways whiskey has been judged and marketed, the two most common judging criteria are age and batch size. Most recently, however, the trend has turned toward limited releases. No matter the jargon, it all really comes down to one promise: this bottle of whiskey is more special than the others in some manner.

When you have your own personalized whiskey barrel, your resulting bottle of whiskey will always be special. You don’t have to pay top dollar for a limited release or even seek out a high end distillery for something special. With your own personalized whiskey barrel, you can create your own limited release, a signature whiskey that is uniquely you.

At Red Head Barrels, we have a variety of sizes that are perfect for the home hobbyist. Here is a sampling of some of our most popular personalized whiskey barrels:

  • Whiskey Infused Personalized Whiskey Barrels: There is a cup (or more) of fresh whiskey, bourbon or scotch already soaked into the wood of these barrels. You can get whiskey infused personalized whiskey barrels in 1 liter, 2 liter and 3 liter sizes.
  • Tequila Infused Personalized Whiskey Barrels: Cured with more than a cup of 100% agave tequila. You can get tequila infused personalized whiskey barrels in 1 liter, 2 liter and 3 liter sizes.
  • Rum Infused Personalized Whiskey Barrels: There is a cup (or more) of fresh rum already soaked into the wood of these barrels. You can get rum infused personalized whiskey barrels in 1 liter, 2 liter and 3 liter sizes.

At Red Head Oak Barrels, we have flavoring kits and infusions so you can get really creative and experiment with all different types of finished drinks. We will also guide you through the spirit making process with our videos and other online information about aging any type of liquor in our oak whiskey barrels.

The basic ingredient of a drink is the essence, which ultimately determines the beverage’s flavor, quality and character. We also have flavor enhancers like:

  • Caramel for that smoother looking color.
  • Vanilla for more a caramelized wood sugar taste.
  • Oak for more toasted oakiness flavor.
  • Cinnamon for added fiery warmth.
  • Raspberry adds a surprise burst of tangy sweetness.
  • Strawberry adds a delicate layer of syrupy sweetness.

Personalized Whiskey Barrels Are The Ultimate In Thoughtfulness

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the perfect gift for a loved one is worth a million. Whether it is for a birthday, holiday, or anniversary, putting thought and care into what you pick out for your family member or friend can say a lot. A simple way to show you care with a gift is to make it personalized or at least make it personal.

Personalized gifts can come in many forms such as engraved cutting boards and monogrammed mugs, but they don’t make an actionable statement the way a personalized whiskey barrel does. Not only does a personalized whiskey barrel look great in a recreation room or man cave, it’s also very functional and can make a great hobby for someone who wants to get into the nuances of barrel aging. Everyone knows you can age liquor in a barrel, but our personalized whiskey barrels can also be used to age:

  • Kombucha. Anyone who loves kombucha will be surprised at how much stronger and tastier it is after aging in a whiskey barrel. Our personalized kombucha barrels come in 5 liter, 10 liter and 20 liter sizes.
  • Pickles & Hot Sauces. Pickles and hot sauce reach new flavor peaks after spending time in a barrel.
  • Wine. Our Barrel Aged Cabernet Wine Making Kit includes everything you need to make 1 gallon of Cabernet wine and age it to perfection in our charred American White Oak Barrel.

A personalized gifts sends a clear message to the receiver that you put time and effort in choosing a gift. If you know barrel aging isn’t something your recipient is going to love you can still speak to their whiskey side with personalized and other barrel gifts from Red Head Barrels.

  • Custom Barrel Head: Wine and whiskey barrel heads that hang on your wall can be laser engraved with any personalization.
  • Personalized Oak Barrel Vase: This is a beautifully rustic centerpiece that is coated with beeswax to ensure your fresh cut flowers stay in bloom.
  • Barrel Head Bottle Holder: This unique monogrammed wall hanging has a wrought iron holder for a favorite bottle of wine.
  • Home Theater Personalized Quarter Barrel Head: This home theater sign is made from a quarter barrel and will look great in any recreation room or media room. The vintage design is personalized and hand painted.
  • Personalized Bag-N-Barrel: This custom designed barrel holds a 3 or 5 liter bag of any favorite boxed wine. We also sell the bags separately for use with any bottled wine.
  • Cigar Barrel Kit: The cigar lovers in your life can marry their favorite smokes with their favorite whiskey in our cigar aging barrel kit.
  • Barrel Mug Gift Package: Each wooden oak barrel mug is handmade from authentic full size oak barrels that were previously used to age, tequila, bourbon, whiskey or scotch.
  • Engraved Barrel Head Coasters: These mini-barrel head coasters aren’t actually made from barrels but they sure look the part. Solid wood and personalized any way you want, these coasters are a great keepsake that are also practical.

Personalized Gifts Are Perfect For Every Occasion

When you give someone a personalized gift or one that caters to their individuality, it shows you really care and becomes a symbol of your bond with each other. It shows that over the course of your relationship you have paid attention to their tastes and preferences and that you funneled that knowledge into a thoughtful gift. Every time that person looks at their personalized whiskey barrel, they'll think of you and the fact that you remembered they have an affinity for fine spirits.

Other reasons to go with a personalized gift:

  • You’re marking a special date
  • You’re celebrating a new union
  • You’re starting a new company
  • You’re welcoming a new addition
  • Your team won

Our personalized whiskey barrels are a great way to put the personal touch on any gift for any occasion. Whether you are giving your captain a military retirement gift or grandpa a birthday present, they will love having a personalized whiskey barrel. At Red Head Oak Barrels we can engrave insignias, military logos, company logos, family crests, nicknames, special dates and more. Our barrels look great on a desk, kitchen counter, home bar, man cave, home office and even in your basement sports zone.

This is the perfect gift for that favorite liquor or wine connoisseur in your life and makes a great groomsmen, wedding party, Father's Day and birthday gift. Our whiskey barrels are fully functional and can be used to age or store any spirit. The barrel can be used over and over again up to 8 years and will age or make your own spirits up to 10 times faster.

Aside from barrel-related personalized gifts, at Red Head Barrels we also have other gift ideas that can be engraved with just about anything you want (surface size allowing).

  • Bottle and glasses: Our engraved Bourbon Bottle and Glasses Set is a decanter and two glasses customized to match.
  • Whiskey glasses: These come in a set of two.
  • Shot glasses: These come in a set of two.
  • Martini set: Set includes a cocktail shaker, jigger, strainer, stirrer and tongs, all held in place in a foam inlay with cutouts for each instrument. Outside, the solid wood box has a rosewood finish and antique silver hinges and clasps. The front lid is imprinted with a beautiful design including your personalization.
  • Personalized Cork, Cap and Match Display Box: Our personalized display has cool artwork and a hinged top that opens for quick insertion of corks. The keyhole hanger on the back makes for easy door or wall mounting.
  • Stainless Steel Flask: Personalized, these 6 ounce flasks are a great way to take your aged spirits on the go.
  • Personalized Card and Flask Set: Comes with a Stainless Steel 7 ounce flask, funnel and shot glass as well as a deck of cards and dice.
  • Mini Corn Hole: Personalized table top mini bean bag toss / corn hole game includes 4 red and 4 blue bean bags.

Why Choose Red Head Barrels for Personalized Whiskey Barrels

At Red Head Oak Barrels, we take pride in every single product we make and sell. Our handmade American oak whiskey barrels are specially designed for aging and mellowing rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, brandy, wine, beer and more. Proprietor Steve Mayes—AKA Red—experimented with barrel aging for many years before opening Red Head Oak Barrels in 2013.

A U.S. Navy Veteran, his business philosophy is to over-deliver and give his customers more than they expect. A Baton Rouge native living in Dallas for over 25 years, Red Head Barrels believes in “lagniappe,” an expression in Louisiana that means “a little extra.”

We have a variety of recipes and liquor making kits so you can turn ordinary spirits into top shelf liquor for a fraction of the price. Make your own flavored Canadian, Kentucky, Tennessee, or Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, Spiced Rums, and more at home for about $10 a fifth.

We have hundreds of 5-star reviews and stand behind every product we make. A multi-generational team of professional expert coopers make our wooden staved vessels by sanding and tapering the oak staves so that they fit the hoops perfectly without nails and glue.

The oak aging barrel is perfectly charred during assembly and each comes with a wooden spigot, a bung and a stand. Call us with any questions you have at 469-969-0449 or see our website for more information.

Cigar Barrels

Pour several shots of your favorite whiskey, rum, tequila, or other spirit into the barrel. Roll the spirit around until covers the bottom half of the barrel. Let this soak into the wood and repeat the rolling until all of the spirit has soaked into the wood. Works even better if you use our humidity beads inside the barrel then you don’t have to pour the alcohol in the barrel plus it will keep your cigars fresher longer. Place a few of your favorite cigars into the barrel. Place the lid back on the barrel and let the cigars soak in the flavor for 2 to 3 days before smoking or moving back to a humidor. Before flavoring cigars again, repeat the shot of a spirit soaking step. White American oak barrels are all about infusing deep, rich flavors. Some of the liquors, such as whiskey and tequila, go well with a really fine cigar. So, why not infuse a cigar with the flavors of your favorite spirit. Just open up the cigar barrel and pour a shot of your favorite liquor inside. Roll the barrel until the liquor has soaked into the wood on the bottom and sides, put those cigars into the barrel and let them sit for two to three days. The aging process will infuse the liquor’s flavor into the cigar which will pair incredibly well with a drink. Use our humidity beads in the barrel and that will help extend the flavor and humidity. With the humidity pack in the cigar barrel you can use it as a cigar humidor. You can also soak your barrel with your favorite whiskey, scotch, cognac, tequila, etc then pour it back in the bottle.  Then drop your pipe tobacco, cigar tobacco. You can even open a pack of cigarettes and put them in there for a day or two and smoke them.  We can also engrave “TOBACCO” on the side for you.  They make great gifts for smokers.

Kombucha Barrels

When I first began brewing Kombucha I used a 2.5 gallon ceramic crock with a spigot. It was affordable and it served its purpose. After messing around with that for a year, I graduated to a 6 gallon glass vessel that I found on a vodka distillery site. The glass was super cool because I could see everything happening in the brew.

After a couple years of home brewing and actually making a pretty good Kombucha, I heard about oak barrel brewing. This intrigued me so I decided to check out this avenue. At the time I had my 2.5 gallon ceramic and 6 gallon glass brew going, and was ready to increase production by another 5 gallons, so I decided on a 5 gallon oak barrel.

I was pretty excited when the oak barrel arrived. It was specially designed for Kombucha brewing, with a hole cut at the top and a spigot placed toward the bottom, standing on its ends. (Typical oak barrels rest on their sides with a bung hole cut in the center.)

I opened the freshly charred oak barrel and was met with a strong whiff of bourbon. I immediately called Ed, who served as middleman for my purchase, and inquired about the char. He assured me it was treated for red wine and I told him it sure smelt like whiskey to me. I didn’t really care what the char was, I was just curious.

I made my first batch, and it tasted so good out of the oak barrel that I didn’t bother flavoring it. It was delicious! Slightly smoky with hints of vanilla paired beautifully with the tart/tangy Kombucha.

Well my small home operation has led to 22 thirty gallon oak barrels in a commercial kitchen in Minneapolis and my little secret is that each oak barrel is made with a whiskey char.

Brewing Kombucha in oak barrels is easy, and here are a few simple things I’ve learned.

#1) Kombucha is very acidic with a low pH, and therefore sanitizing the oak barrel before starting (or any time for that matter) is unnecessary. As long as you use enough starter culture (I usually start with 15 gallons of strong starter culture with 15 gallons of tea/sugar for the first batch in a 30 gallon oak barrel.)

There is a small risk for contamination, but that has never happened to me and really the only way you can go wrong is if mold shows up, which is very rare but can be seen with the naked eye. If you see any fuzz on your first batch, then that would be the one time to dump the liquid and sanitize the barrel.

Any bacteria that may be present in the barrel upon arrival will be killed off by the bacteria/yeast in your culture – that’s why I start with strong culture and fill half the barrel with that.

If you do need to sanitize, check out the cleaning and maintenance kit from Red Head Barrels. It includes a citric acid cleaner, oxy san sanitizer, campden tablets and barrel wax.

The reason I get away with never sanitizing my oak barrels is because right after taking the liquid out for flavoring, I start a new batch within a few hours. My philosophy is the less I am in there fussing with my equipment, the less likely contamination occurs.

If you ever want to take a break from brewing, just fill your barrel as if starting a new batch and let it sit for as long as you wish. When you are ready to get started again, just drain off 70% of the liquid and start your new batch.

Addendum – Before filling your new oak barrel with kombucha and starter tea, best to fill it once with water and make sure it is sealed. Sometimes the barrels leak until the wood expands, and better it is water leaking all over than sticky tea.

#2) The great oak flavor that I discussed on my first batch is really only present in the first few batches. Eventually the oak flavor subsides to the Kombucha flavor. Which is fine, because the real advantage of oak barrels is that it is a natural material and the microorganisms in Kombucha thrive in this environment.

The oak barrels also soften the bite of Kombucha, creating a lighter, crisper Kombucha.

But if you ever want to invigorate the oak flavor, you can always add newly charred oak chips. That does the trick.

#3) Before investing in an oak barrel, because they are more expensive than simpler brewing vessels, have a good idea how much you are making. Because whatever size vessel you use for making Kombucha, you want to fill it as close to the top as possible. You don’t want to do a 10 gallon batch of Kombucha in a 20 gallon oak barrel. That is where you increase your likelihood of mold growth which would show up on the upper walls.

#4) Though an investment, oak barrels last a long, long time. I am hesitant to say forever, but I have yet to have to discard an oak barrel because it no longer functions. I have oak barrels that are 12 years old, and while they leak a smidge here or there, they are fully functional.

#5) Most oak barrels come with an oak “spigot” to let out the Kombucha. If you are not bottling straight from the barrel, but instead transferring the liquid to a different container to flavor, this works just fine. But if you are going direct from the oak barrel to the bottle, a plastic spigot may be a better option. This lends a truer “pour” that can be captured in the bottle without making a mess.

For new brewers – all flavoring should be done OUTSIDE your primary fermenting vessel, whether you are using oak barrels or not. Over time, the flavors you add can weaken your culture, so best to do that with the liquid you are eventually drinking, not the liquid you are using to brew the next batch.

My last suggestion is to leave extra liquid for your next batch. Most recipes call for 10% of your previous batch to start the next. I prefer to leave 30%. This leads to a stronger culture, more health benefits, and shortens your fermentation time.

Congratulations for considering oak barrels for Kombucha! It really elevates your game and creates a stronger, healthier, and best of all tastier Kombucha. And not only that, oak barrels look pretty damn cool on your kitchen counter, and make great conversation starters!

Copyright Bryan Deane Bertsch 2018             www.deaneskombucha.com

Bryan Deane Bertsch is owner and brewmaster of Deane’s Kombucha in Minneapolis, MN.

Red Head Barrels has charred oak barrels for brewing Kombucha in 3 sizes

Bag-N-Barrel

Our Bag-N-Barrels work great for enjoying your boxed wine. Great dispenser. We even sell the bags so you can purchase your favorite bottled wine and pour it in the bag then dispense from the Bag-N-Barrel. Several designs to choose from.

Wedding Card Barrel

Celebrate your WEDDING in "WINE STYLE"! with this handcrafted American White Oak barrel. Your guests can place cards and well wishes in the wedding card barrel. After the wedding you have a life long keepsake. Size: 15" x 12" x 12" and comes with the stand and an opening in back to retrieve the cards.