First time barreller

barrel_of_laughsbarrel_of_laughs Member Posts: 3
edited April 2012 in Beer Brewing

Hi, my first brew has finished bubbling and hopefully is ready for the second fermentation. On the bottle vs barrel debate, I thought I would put the whole lot in a barrel and then transfer some into a small number of bottles (total ~ 3litres) after a couple of days. My logic was that if I partially filled the barrel more oxygen would be in from the start whereas if I transfer some out after a couple of days the CO2 pressure will have built up sufficiently to avoid air getting in. Any thoughts?

Another thing I was wondering was CO2 injection. I have the equipment for that, but wondered if it would be necessary on the basis of having 4pints in a given evening about 2 times a week. I have brewed Woodforde's Admiral's Reserve. Should I just fit the CO2 valve cap in case? without any bulbs connected, does the CO2 valve cap behave the same as the standard vent cap (i.e. vent excess pressure I presume)?

Very exciting, though time to be patient!


  • tomstockertomstocker Member Posts: 15

    Hi, I had a similar query, barrel or bottles.  The advice I was given was to barrel the ale.  Use the CO2 valve, and don't forget a little vaseline around the seal.

    I have in the past primed some bottles first, then put the rest into the barrel.  This gives a  nice contrast, the bottles can be slightly chilled if you wish and it also really cool to crack open your 'own' brew!

    I think it's good to follow woodfordes directions as the final results should be pretty good.  Once you've had a bit of practise and gained experience then you can do the brew however you want!

    I only started last October, but so long as everything is kept clean and basic directions followed you shouldn,t have a problem.  Enjoy your Admirals Revenge. 


  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115

    It's best whenever possible to transfer your brew out of the fermenting vessel into where it will ultmately be kept, so if you want to fill a few bottles syphon over to them, and put the rest in a barrel. You then work out how much to prime the bottles and barrel, based on grams per pint. This way you get the minimum amount of air in with the brew as it is transferred. For example, if you put 20 pints in bottles and 20 pints in the keg you only need half the priming sugar you would have used if you had put the full 40 pints into the keg.

    Whether you think you will need to inject CO2 or not, it is best to fit the CO2 cap and valve from the start, it has the same safety feature and will vent excess pressure if needed, there does not need to be a CO2 bulb fitted. Then if you do find you want to inject any additional CO2 later you don't have to remove the lid and swap them over - this would release any pressure built up and let air into the barrel which you do not want to do. By fitting it from the start it will minimise the amount of air in the keg

  • barrel_of_laughsbarrel_of_laughs Member Posts: 3
    Thanks to both of you for the tips. I popped it all in to the barrel as its my first attempt. The syphoning was quite interesting even though I had a clip. I might try using the bottom tap next time as that avoids using the tube. If I run the tap slowly I'm hoping that will avoid disturbing the sediment in the bucket. Can I use some form of filter? What are your thoughts, good idea or not? It would be slower but avoids handling a tube that then gets submerged in the beer and that feels like a plus.
  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    If using the tap to transfer it will help if you do it slowly to help reduce any disturbance to the sediment. By syphoning from the top it does help to reduce disturbance as you start at the furthest point from the sediment. Also when using the tap, if you allow the brew to splash down into the keg or bottles it will introduce a lot of air into the brew which it is best to avoid. A 'little bottler' is good for this if bottling - it replaces the standard tap and has a tube on it whcih stops and starts the flow in an ingenious way, and transfers over to bottles without mixing it with lots of air. You could try passing the brew through a filter of some sort, such as very fine muslin, but how much fine sediment this would stop is questionable, it is best to avoid disturbing the sediment in the first place if at all possible. A 'long rigid syphon tube' can be a good help when syphoning out of the top of the vessel, it is a tube with a sediment trap on the bottom, which connects to the end of the syphon tube, and helps by not moving around and disturbing the brew as much, a 'syphon tube clip' can also be used to hold the tube in place which frees up a hand whcih may be worth considering too
  • MattPMattP Member Posts: 14

    Hi, it's true that syphoning can be a little awkward. Just one of those jobs where it'd be useful to have an extra pair of hands. I do believe that syphoning is better than draining off your brew via the tap though. If you're careful, and keep the tube end only an inch below the surface of the beer you're syphoning, it's quite possible to drain it of with minimal disturbance of the deposits in the bottom of the fermenter. It's just a slow and tedious job.

    One thing which might well help is to stir a sachet of beer finings into the brew once the primary fermentation has finished, and leave it a couple of days before syphoning. This tends to coagulate everything into a sticky goo in the bottom of the fermenter and makes it far less prone to disturbance, so long as you don't acctually stick the syphon tube into the yeast layer.

  • barrel_of_laughsbarrel_of_laughs Member Posts: 3

    Sounds like syphoning is worth the practice then. Hopefully my first brew will give me a bit more confidence in this as I should think in future I can do it better that I did that time. A couple of weeks until I find out. It's amazing to see the barrel sitting there with all that beer inside visible through the translucent barrel material. Let's hope it tastes as good as it looks in the barrel.

  • MattPMattP Member Posts: 14
    edited April 2012
    The problem with using the drainage tap is that it sucks in liquid from all around the entrance pipe, ie from below as well as above. Therefore it inevitably creates a current over the yeast layer and some of it is bound to be sucked into your keg. I've often wondered why somebody doesn't produce a gadget akin to the floating pipe in a King Keg barrel, so that liquid is drained only from the top of the fermentation vessel. It would only be necessary to hold the float below the surface of the brew and open the tap in order to start the syphon effect ?  With a bit of thought it ought to be possible to make something adjustable so that as the level of liquid lowers down to the bottom, the end of the pipe stops short of the yeast layer. Then just the last little bit could be syphoned out by hand. Come to think of it the fitting from a King Keg or similar might just plug into the back of a standard tap anyway ? Anybody got one handy to try this ?
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