Whether you’re a DIY distiller, brewer, or run a professional distillery or winery, there’s no denying that aging your concoction in a charred oak barrel gives its taste an extra bit of flair. For centuries, the oak tree has produced the preferred wood necessary to stave off oxidation, soften wine tannins, ferment various brews, and age spirits to perfection.
Whether for fermentation, aging, or simple storage, our 2.5 gallon charred white oak barrel is more than functional; it’s an eye-catching conversation piece designed to enhance your man cave, wine cellar, bar area, or patio deck in a way that no mini fridge or keg could ever do.
Each oak barrel includes:
- A matching wooden stand
- A bung & spigot
- A storing tablet
- Between 4 and 6 hoops
- 2.5 gallons of volume – that’s a lot of room!
About the Author: Hillbilly Stills has the best online selection of handmade, high-quality DIY distilling equipment, fermenting chemicals, copper stills, and other distilling accessories anywhere on the web. Shop their online store today and be drinking your own brew, wine, or spirits in short order by visiting www.hillbillystills.com.
For literally thousands of years, wooden barrels have been used to store, transport, age, and flavor alcoholic beverages of all types. From beer to wine to spirits, humans have relied on barrel aging to give their alcohol that last bit of perfection. However, the purpose of using wood barrels wasn’t for aging in the beginning, but more for storage, and the idea of barrel aging for taste was an unexpected result.
Long ago in ancient Mesopotamia, people used palm wood to fashion barrels used to store alcohol. However, palm wood is difficult to bend into barrels, and by the time the Roman Empire had come to fruition, the use of oak barrels had become the most prevalent form of storage.
Regardless of the type of alcohol stored, distillers soon realized that oak barrel aging made their beverages less harsh, better tasting, and added individuality to their particular process.
What is it About Oak Barrels?
Because oak is a relatively porous wood, it allows for a certain amount of evaporation and oxygenation, but not to the extent that oxidation (the same process that causes rust to form on metals) or spoiling occurs.
When a certain amount of evaporation is allowed, some alcohol and water is removed, leaving more of the natural taste of the liquid behind. In the case of wine aging, the small bit of oxygen that makes into the barrel acts upon the tannins in the wine, making it softer to ingest and giving it a more pleasurable taste overall.
Alcohol can be fermented in oak barrels, or it can be aged in oak barrels after fermentation. There is an important distinction to be made between the two processes, particularly that alcohol which is fermented and then aged in the oak will take on more of the taste characteristics of the wood than if it were just fermented in it.
The effects of oak on alcohol are exceptionally prevalent when working with wine as the phenols in the oak produce a chemical reaction that gives the wine a bit of vanilla flavor and/or extra sweetness. The amount of char on a barrel also affects the tannin levels, and the ellagitannins in wood provide an extra layer of protection against oxidation and reduction.
About the Author: Hillbilly Stills is a company made up of hillbillies who have a love for all things distilling and ingesting alcoholic beverages. They specialize in DIY distilling for the home brewer, as well as equipment and accessories for bigger operations. Whether you’re a regular guy who wants a new hobby or to drink for less, or you’re running a retail distillery, Hillbilly Stills has all the distilling tools, guides, and equipment you need to make it happen. Visit www.hillbillystills.com today to view and purchase their products!
Yeast is extremely important in the alcohol distillation process. Whether you are making vodka, rum, or whiskey it is extremely important that you use the proper yeast to minimize the production of undesirable fusel alcohols, aldehydes, and other byproducts and impart the proper flavor to the alcohol.
The fermentation process uses yeast to convert fermentable sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by breaking down sugar’s molecular structure of into simpler compounds. The type of yeast used greatly affects fermentation rate and overall flavor of the finished product – if you use the wrong yeast, you could ruin your batch.
Typical yeasts used in brewing and distillation are members of the genus Saccharomyces, and they have been cultivated to thrive in the fermentation industry. Yeast strains have dramatically differing nutritional requirements for strong and rapid fermentation, so proper yeast is absolutely essential.
Fermentation takes place in different phases – the first being primary fermentation. In the primary phase, yeast uses oxygen and other nutrients to rapidly grow and reproduce. After the initial growth, they kick into gear and start breaking sugars down in order to use the oxygen molecules.
Contrary to popular belief, yeast doesn’t just feed on sugar – it needs other nutrients like nitrogen and uses sugar for oxygen. After the sugar is broken down, the main byproducts created by the yeast are CO2 and alcohol. They aren’t trying to create alcohol; they are doing their best to survive in a hostile anaerobic environment.
Fun fact: Yeast is fastest organism on the planet that can mutate and adapt to survive in a hostile and changing environment.
As the nutrients start to run out, the fermentation process slows down and the yeast converts sugars to alcohol at a much slower rate. The CO2 bubbling will start to settle down and the dead yeast will settle at the bottom of the fermentation tank.
The wash that is left is a mixture of alcohols, unfermented sugars, and other molecular compounds that are let behind after the fermentation. Now, it is time to move on to the distillation phase.