Barrel Aging Beer ???

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Senior Member
Sep 16, 2020
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So we all know that wine has some pretty nice preservative properties, such as tartaric acid and a lot of it, which beer does not have, allowing it to be easily aged without going bad. As someone who has brewed beer many times, it seems to me you kind of need to work hard to get wine to spoil. I've had plenty of beers spoil, but never a wine or mead. And this is very beneficial considering it is kind of impossible to ever fully stelize a wooden barrel.

So what do brewers do to beer to keep it from spoiling in barrel?

I ask because I recently made an Imperial Belgian Saison Braggot (~12 ABV) for one of my empty barrels. The PH finished at 4.07 and I added enough tartaric acid to bring it down to 3.7 (as of now; perhaps more later this week after seeing how the acid balances the sweetness). I will add some sulfates too soon, and I think I am pretty good.

But in general, what do brewers do to keep beer from spoiling in barrel?


Senior Member
Sep 11, 2012
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Washington, the state
Generally brewers use spirit barrels for aging which are too harsh an environment for typical beer spoilage critters like bret, pedio, and lacto. So if the barrel was freshly emptied and handled properly it’s not much a worry. Wine barrels would be more typically used for sour beers where the spoilage critters are what make the beer. Higher ABV will help but bret and pedio can live in this so that doesn’t offer the most protection.

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