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Oak Barrels
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Step 1 | Curing

Step 1 | Curing

Curing your barrel is the process of hydrating the wood staves.  In doing so, the oak swells to form a natural barrier, which seals any leaks.  A proper cure takes time, but when done correctly it can last the lifespan of the barrel.  These instructions will provide you the tools you need to feel comfortable curing your barrel for the first time.  Before you get started, there is one thing you need to understand: 


ALMOST EVERY BARREL WILL LEAK


When you first fill your barrel with water, nearly every barrel we’ve cured has leaked, some more than others. Some initial leaking is completely normal, but as a new barrel owner this will be your biggest concern.  We receive several questions and emails from our newest customers, but after they give it a day or two soaking up the water the leaks are all but gone.  We recommend going through the entire curing process and if the barrel is still leaking, start over and try one more time from step 1.  If after two curing attempts the barrel continues to leak, contact us for some alternate methods.  If the barrel just won’t stop leaking, we will get a replacement sent out to you.     

There are two methods to choose from when curing your new oak barrel: the easy method (2-3 day process) or the fast method (as little as 2 hours).  The main difference is time, although on a rare occasion they could take equal amounts of time.  For new owners, we always recommend the easy method, as it provides the most accurate results with minimal effort.  If you're in a hurry or just too excited to use your barrel, the fast method takes about 2 hours, but may require some additional time if leaks are still present.   

As a new barrel owner, the curing process is the most critical.  The only thing worse than a barrel leaking water is a barrel leaking alcohol!  Follow these steps carefully and please contact us with any questions.  Before you know it, you'll be a pro and on the way to oak aging in no time!

 

IMPORTANT: Use only chlorine free water.  If you are using unfiltered tap water, simply set out the water overnight and the chlorine will dissipate.  

 

EASY METHOD (2 to 3 days)

Step 1:  Insert spigot and fill barrel with hot water

Step 2:  Insert bung into bunghole and place barrel on barrel stand

Step 3:  Rest for 1 hour.  

NOTE:  Barrel will leak, do not be alarmed

Step 4:  After 1 hour, check for any visible leaks. 

Step 5:  You can apply a small amount of barrel wax directly to leaking areas, however this is not required.

Step 6:  Rest for an additional 24 to 72 hours (1-3 days)

Step 7:  Barrel should be well hydrated at this point and without any leaks.  If the barrel is still leaking, empty and repeat the process one more time.  If after 5 days of hydrating the barrel is still leaking, please contact us for assistance. 

Step 8:  Drain water from barrel and rinse 3 times with clean water

Step 9:  Remove the bung and spigot and place the barrel bunghole side down.  This will allow any remaining water to drain.  The barrel will need to "surface dry" for a maximum of 1-2 hours. 

NOTE:  Surface drying is not required, but a good practice to avoid diluting your brew. 

Step 10:  Fill your barrel as soon as possible, either with your next recipe or a sanitizing solution for long term storage (see Storing the Barrel).

 

FAST METHOD (2 hours to 24 hours)

Step 1:  Insert spigot and fill barrel halfway with hot water (chlorine free)

Step 2:  Insert bung into bunghole and shake gently for 1 minute.

NOTE: Water may spray from the stave joints, but as the barrel hydrates the leaking should subside.

Step 3:  Place the barrel on its head (spigot facing up).  Rest for 20 minutes.

Step 4:  Place the barrel on the barrel stand with bung facing up.  Rest 15 minutes.

Step 5:  Rotate the barrel with bung facing left.  Rest 15 minutes.

Step 6:  Rotate the barrel with bung facing right.  Rest 15 minutes.

Step 7:  Rotate the barrel with bung facing up.  Rest 15 minutes.

Step 8:  Visible leaks should be gone at this point. 

Step 9:  Fill the remainder of the barrel with hot water.  Rest 10 minutes.

Step 10:  Barrel should be well hydrated at this point and without any leaks.  If the barrel is still leaking, rest for additional 24 hours.  If after 5 days of hydrating there are still visible leaks, please contact us for assistance. 

Step 11:  Drain water from barrel and rinse 3 times with clean water

Step 12:  Remove the bung and spigot, and place the barrel bunghole side down.  This will allow any remaining water to drain.  The barrel will need to "surface dry"for a maximum of 1-2 hours. 

NOTE:  Surface drying is not required, but a good practice to avoid diluting your brew. 

Step 13:  Fill your barrel immediately, either with your next recipe or a storing solution.

  


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