Barrel cleaning and maintenance?

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Handy Andy

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I have recently acquired some vineyards and used equipment, which has not been recently maintained, cleaned.
I have
1 x 300 litre stainless steel barrel
1 x 60 gallon wooden barrel
1 x 30 gallon wooden barrel
2 x 10 gallon plastic barrels
The stainless, and plastic barrels are light and easy to manouvre, the wooden barrels are a bit on the heavy side for moving around easily.

The stainless barrel has a removable lid and appears spotlessly clean inside.
The wooden barrels have a sherry (oxidised wine) smell inside them. I note the bungs had a piece of wire hanging from them, with something that looked like it had been burned on it. Sulphur maybe??

How do I go about cleaning and maintaining the barrels, prior to putting wine into them, in a few months time?
 

mainshipfred

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I'd be concerned about the wood barrels and VA and not sure if there is an economical way to treat them. You are Handy Andy so maybe you could re-coop them.
 

pete1325

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I've looked into tearing a barrel down and sanding the inside of the staves to re-use them. I decided to use the used barrels as decorations in my wine room. Go on you tube there are a few good vids on rebuilding wine barrels. The stainless can be easily cleaned and reused as new.
 

Handy Andy

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I'd be concerned about the wood barrels and VA and not sure if there is an economical way to treat them. You are Handy Andy so maybe you could re-coop them.
I've looked into tearing a barrel down and sanding the inside of the staves to re-use them. I decided to use the used barrels as decorations in my wine room. Go on you tube there are a few good vids on rebuilding wine barrels. The stainless can be easily cleaned and reused as new.
The consensus of opinion is > The wooden barrels can not be successfully cleaned, and re used, without risking the wine.

The stainless barrel is my best barrel, should I buy more stainless barrels, or can plastic barrels suffice?
 

Johnd

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The consensus of opinion is > The wooden barrels can not be successfully cleaned, and re used, without risking the wine.

The stainless barrel is my best barrel, should I buy more stainless barrels, or can plastic barrels suffice?
Wooden barrels can be successfully cleaned and sanitized with about 20 minutes of stream treatment. The heat will kill anything, even deep in the wood. Whether or not you can do that economically, I cannot say, it depends upon what you have access to.
 

Handy Andy

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Wooden barrels can be successfully cleaned and sanitized with about 20 minutes of stream treatment. The heat will kill anything, even deep in the wood. Whether or not you can do that economically, I cannot say, it depends upon what you have access to.
Would a steam pressure washer suffice to clean my wooden barrels?

I am going to buy a pressure washer for another purpose, a steam pressure washer is not much more.
 

Johnd

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Would a steam pressure washer suffice to clean my wooden barrels?

I am going to buy a pressure washer for another purpose, a steam pressure washer is not much more.
I don’t know about the steam pressure washer. To steam a barrel, you need produce only steam, a pretty good bit of it. I’ve only steamed one barrel, and I took it to my local clothes cleaner, traded a few bottles of wine for a barrel steam. No skin off their back, steam runs the whole show.

There are commercial units for sale, think @crushday has one. You could produce stem easily with a fitting attached to an old keg that would allow water to be added to it, then attach a hose to the fitting, and fire it up on a propane burner. Plenty steam at a very low price.
 

crushday

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As @Johnd has indicated, I recently purchased a commercial steamer to steam clean my barrels. During my last cleaning, I steamed the barrels at 325 degrees for over 20 minutes. The barrels get warm to the touch on the outside. When finished, I immediately replace the silicone bung and let it cool. It’s quite a struggle to remove the bung after it’s cooled because of the incredible vacuum created.

@Handy Andy - As it pertains to your newly acquired barrels, as long as they don’t leak AND you can steam clean them, I wouldn’t hesitate to fill them with wine. But, I’m a risk taker...
 

Handy Andy

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I don’t know about the steam pressure washer. To steam a barrel, you need produce only steam, a pretty good bit of it. I’ve only steamed one barrel, and I took it to my local clothes cleaner, traded a few bottles of wine for a barrel steam. No skin off their back, steam runs the whole show.

There are commercial units for sale, think @crushday has one. You could produce stem easily with a fitting attached to an old keg that would allow water to be added to it, then attach a hose to the fitting, and fire it up on a propane burner. Plenty steam at a very low price.
As @Johnd has indicated, I recently purchased a commercial steamer to steam clean my barrels. During my last cleaning, I steamed the barrels at 325 degrees for over 20 minutes. The barrels get warm to the touch on the outside. When finished, I immediately replace the silicone bung and let it cool. It’s quite a struggle to remove the bung after it’s cooled because of the incredible vacuum created.

@Handy Andy - As it pertains to your newly acquired barrels, as long as they don’t leak AND you can steam clean them, I wouldn’t hesitate to fill them with wine. But, I’m a risk taker...
Thanks for the tips. The old fella had an old gas oven down in the cellar, he may have been producing steam. I will give it a whirl. I had a look at some of the commercial steamers available, I might still go that way.

A 60 gallon barrel is a lot of wine, for a first time wine maker to take risks with.
 

my wine

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As @Johnd has indicated, I recently purchased a commercial steamer to steam clean my barrels. During my last cleaning, I steamed the barrels at 325 degrees for over 20 minutes. The barrels get warm to the touch on the outside. When finished, I immediately replace the silicone bung and let it cool. It’s quite a struggle to remove the bung after it’s cooled because of the incredible vacuum created.

@Handy Andy - As it pertains to your newly acquired barrels, as long as they don’t leak AND you can steam clean them, I wouldn’t hesitate to fill them with wine. But, I’m a risk taker...
Is a wallpaper steamer similar to your steamer. I can rent one for half a day to clean a couple 5 gal barrels I have.

I assume there is no disassembly; hose goes in the hole and steam flows for 20 or so minutes. Is that right?
 

crushday

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Is a wallpaper steamer similar to your steamer. I can rent one for half a day to clean a couple 5 gal barrels I have.

I assume there is no disassembly; hose goes in the hole and steam flows for 20 or so minutes. Is that right?
I think a wallpaper steamer will work but I can't speak to the similarities to the one you can rent to the one I own. As far as how I use mine, it might be helpful to you knowing I don't disassemble the barrel. Like you stated, the nozzle goes in the bung hole and the steam flows...325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Hope that is helpful.
 

my wine

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Thanks crushday. I'll check out that wallpaper steamer and perhaps look at a clothing steamer (ala dry cleaner tool). I think I want to use one that puts out more steam volume per minute without blowing the bands off the barrel. But you mention 325 degrees so I'll look for steam temperature also which I'm sure can vary with the tool.
 

Boatboy24

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I'd be careful using a piece of rented equipment in my barrels. You don't know where it's been. 😬
 

my wine

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I'd be careful using a piece of rented equipment in my barrels. You don't know where it's been. 😬
Yep, understood and will keep in mind if I go that route. Would likely clean the hose and run it in the sink for a few minutes before putting it in the barrel.
 

Jbu50

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I bought a new 47L oak barrel couple of years ago and it had a slight curious smell to it, right from the start. Its like a faint musty smell. I've kept if full since then with a few different batches of wine, but every time I open it up I notice the slight off note smell... Not sure what to do about it. The slight musty smell has never transferred into my wine and the wine honestly comes out beautifully oaked... So, I'm not sure whether it is musty, or just the specific type of oak. There's no brand name on the barrel, other than, "Made in Portugal". It's my 4th barrel, never had this experience. My other barrels are Portuguese and Hungarian and they seem fine. I feel like I continue to take a risk using it as it is, even though I perceive no negative effect in the wine. If I try to steam clean it will that harm the barrel in any way in terms of its oak infusion capability? Will it make it neutral? I don't want to lose the oak infusion. Thanks!
 

Johnd

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I bought a new 47L oak barrel couple of years ago and it had a slight curious smell to it, right from the start. Its like a faint musty smell. I've kept if full since then with a few different batches of wine, but every time I open it up I notice the slight off note smell... Not sure what to do about it. The slight musty smell has never transferred into my wine and the wine honestly comes out beautifully oaked... So, I'm not sure whether it is musty, or just the specific type of oak. There's no brand name on the barrel, other than, "Made in Portugal". It's my 4th barrel, never had this experience. My other barrels are Portuguese and Hungarian and they seem fine. I feel like I continue to take a risk using it as it is, even though I perceive no negative effect in the wine. If I try to steam clean it will that harm the barrel in any way in terms of its oak infusion capability? Will it make it neutral? I don't want to lose the oak infusion. Thanks!
Steaming shouldn’t affect the serviceability of the barrel in terms of oaking, and hopefully, it’ll help with your smell. @crushday has a steamer and may want to give you some pointers here.
 

NervHQ

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Could you tell me some more information about it? Let’s talk in PM
 
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