One question I get asked a lot is how I clean our barrels and how much cleaning I actually do after aging a beer.
I’ll start off with the second question first…truth is I don’t do much cleaning to the barrels after aging. We try to refill our barrels with a new beer within a few hours of emptying and never let them sit empty. By having as little downtime in the oak as possible it keeps your resident microbes happy and ready to eat which in my experiences have lead to brighter, healthier, more rounded beers with less aging time needed. *If we need to store a barrel we use the holding solution amounts described in this previous post.
So what do I use to rinse/wash our barrels? This cheapo wand has served us fairly well, saved my back and is easily built for under $50. I will preface this tool build by saying it’s probably better served for brewers who only have a few barrels in their program. Believe me trying to use this to rinse 20 something barrels every empty/re-fill works, but depending on the size of your wetpad it can take a good bit of maneuvering.
It’s a simple build that most could probably just look at the picture and figure out but here you go:
- 1/2″ FPT Rotating CIP Sprayball. Mine came from here
- 1/2″ Male NPT Tri Clamp
- 2x 24″ 1/2 PVC pipe ( I chose PVC because I already had it)
- 1/2″ Elbow PVC
- 1/2″ Male adaptor PVC
- 1/2″ Female adaptor PVC
- Thread tape
- PVC Cement
I’m confident by the pics below you can assemble the project. I’ve never had an issue with it falling over during rinse. I usually do a burst rinse twice and let the water drain completely then run it for about 45 seconds to a minute. Again in our process we refill barrels same day and try to keep our resident oak microbes living. Our water pressure is good enough to spin this small spray ball, but you can easily use a pump inline. Hope this helps my fellow barrel brewers. Due to the amount of barrels I now use we are probably moving to an in place pump style barrel cleaner that evacuates the dirty water, but this has done a fine job on quite a few barrels.