If you’re here on this page, you’ve probably heard the story already, but here’s the basic overview.  Boomstick Brewing Co. in Corner Brook is ordering in a load of oak barrels and they’ve graciously offered up a pair for homebrewers.  We’ve got two barrels coming in, one is a bourbon barrel, and one is a wine barrel.  This page is only about the bourbon barrel.  For details about the wine barrel, check out the page on the Wine Barrel Project.

The Barrel

The bourbon barrel is a 200L Jack Daniel’s barrel. You can get Jack Daniel’s at the NLC.

A 200L barrel is ~53 gallons for us poor saps who haven’t yet gotten with the times on the metric system.  We’re aiming to have a total of 11 brewers participate, where each brewer will brew 5 gallons (19L) of beer and we’ll fill the barrel.  That leaves us a small margin to account for volume lost due to a batch coming in a little under-sized, or spillage or whatever the case might be.

From talking to some people who’ve run a barrel program like this in other clubs, we expect to lose a little volume to evaporation and to sediment in the barrel, a rough guess is that each participant will take away about 4.5 gallons (17L) of the finished product.

The bourbon barrel will be clean and uninfected with bugs when it arrives, and we want to fill it “soon” after it arrives so that it stays that way, which is why these details are being sent out first. We expect the wine barrel will already have lacto in it on arrival, so there’s less concern about it sitting slightly longer as it will already be ‘infected’.

Each beer will be sampled by at least two people before being added to the barrel, and samples will be provided to tasters blindly. (IE: Without a name attached.) We’re not looking for every beer to be a national level Best of Show finalist or anything as strict as that, but we do want to avoid adding substantial off flavours and especially infections into the barrel. Be careful with your sanitation and handling and you should have no issues.

Also if you want or need to borrow a keg to move beer around and be able to purge the headspace with CO2, let us know. Between the participants we’ve got a couple spares kicking around and someone can help you out with that.

Any questions, feel free to drop us a line.

Key Dates

Friday, May 15
Payment of $37 per participant to be submitted to newfermenters@gmail.com to secure a spot in the barrel.

Tuesday, May 26
Approximately the last day to start fermenting and expect primary fermentation to be complete before the target filling date.  Guidance from Mike at Boomstick is that a big beer like this can to take 17-18 days to fully ferment to final gravity.

Weekend of June 20/21
Target date for filling bourbon barrel.  All beer should be finished fermenting primary and brought to Bill’s place in Torbay. Specifics on how dropoff and fill day will go may depend on provincial COVID regulations and will be sent out closer to the actual date.

Recipe and Tips

We’ll be filling the bourbon barrel with Imperial Stout.  The recipe we’re going to use can be found here.

Additionally, here’s 2 versions of the recipe that were ported into beersmith in metric units for reference as well.

The recipe calls for White Labs WLP001 yeast, but we’re planning to use US-05 dry yeast. It’s allegedly the same strain and should be readily available locally.  You’ll probably want to consider pitching 2 packs, it’s a pretty big beer.

The recipe calls for Chocolate Rye Malt, which we’ve been struggling to source locally. I’ve even pinged a couple of breweries and nobody seems to have any around.  So we’re going to make the following substitution.

Instead of this:

  • 1.25 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt

We’re going to use this:

  • ~1.5 lbs (~0.75 kg) Rye Malt
  • ~1 lb (~0.5 kg) either Special X or Extra Special Malt

The recipe in that article assumes a very high boil off rate for a 90 minute boil. It’s also a 6 gallon batch, aiming to end with 6.5 gallons at the end of the boil. So you may have to tailor the recipe a little bit to your batch size and system efficiency.

Scaled and Substituted

Here’s the recipe scaled for my system targeting 6 gallons at the end of the boil and 60% efficiency.

Title: Barrel Project Stout
Style Name: Imperial Stout
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 6 gallons (ending kettle volume)
Boil Size: 9 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.070
Efficiency: 60% (ending kettle)

Original Gravity: 1.106
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV (standard): 11.47%
IBU (tinseth): 81.66
SRM (morey): 50

20 lb - Maris Otter Pale (69.6%)
3 lb - Munich Light (10.4%)
1.5 lb - Rye Malt (5.2%)
1.25 lb - Chocolate (4.3%)
1 lb - Flaked Oats (3.5%)
0.5 lb - Caramel / Crystal 150L (1.7%)
0.5 lb - Roasted Barley (1.7%)
1 lb - BEST Special X (3.5%)

2.2 oz - CTZ, AA: 14, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 81.66

Temp: 146 F
Time: 75 min

Fermentis / Safale - American Ale Yeast US-05
Attenuation (avg): 81%
Optimum Temp: 54 - 77 F
Fermentation Temp: 65 F

Small Beer

Because you’re likely to get a lower than normal efficiency in a beer with this high of an OG, there will likely still be a lot of sugar left in your grain bed after collecting the necessary amount of wort for the barrel stout. In this case you can continue to sparge with more water to collect a second beer from the same grain. This is called parti-gyle brewing.

Note that there is no requirement to do this to participate in the barrel project. The second runnings beer is just something you can do to get better use of your grain and get a second beer for yourself for ‘free’.

To help plan any hop additions, here’s some tips on efficiency. For simplicity sake, lets round the recipe up to 30lbs of malt, and lets assume it’s all 2-Row with a gravity potential of 36.8 points per pound per gallon (ppg). Lets also assume you’re making two 6 gallon batches. This means if you were able to convert and extract 100% of the sugar from the grain you’d have 36.8ppg * 30lbs / 12gallons = 92 points. (Equal to an original gravity of 1.092.) Lets say your typical extraction efficiency is 82%, then 92 points * 0.82 = 75 points, or an original gravity of 1.075. So if your system was large enough to brew a single 12 gallon batch, you’d expect to have an OG of about 1.075.

However, instead you’re actually brewing two 6 gallon batches. The first one, lets estimate you might achieve 60% extraction efficiency. 36.8ppg * 30lbs / 6gallons = 184 points * 0.60 = 110 points. So you might expect your first 6 gallon batch to have an OG of 1.110. If you were to dilute that to 12 gallons, 110 * 6/12 = 55 points, or 12 gallons of beer with a gravity of 1.055. Looking back at your predicted ‘typical’ efficiency of 82%, we expected to be able to achieve 1.075. Subtracting your first runnings gravity from your ‘typical’ gravity, we get 75-55 = 20 points of gravity at 12 gallons still remaining in the grain bed. Adjusting that back down to a 6 gallon batch, you get 20 * 12/6 = 40 points, or a beer with an OG of 1.040.

As your efficiency of your first beer increases, the OG of your second runnings beer will decrease. This is obviously just an example and your actual values will depend on your actual efficiencies, target volumes, and ingredients.

Brewday Photos

Coming soon.