Barrel Tips from the Pros

Insights for using barrels on a homebrew level

Barrel aging beer is not a new trend, but if you look around at your local brew pubs and beer shops you will see the expanding varieties of wood and barrel aged brews. Wood adds additional aromas and flavor components such as vanillin, tannins, spice and toast that brewers can use to their advantage. Many craft breweries have barrel programs dealing in wine and liquor barrel aged brews. The barrels they use usually range from 55 to 65 gallons and are sourced from major liquor distilleries, barrel brokers and vineyards from across the country.

For home brewers, brewing with a 55 gallon liquor barrel is not very practical unless you are brewing with a group and everyone dumps in to fill the barrel (which is very fun by the way). Most home brewers are looking for wooden barrels to hold their 5 and 10 gallon batches. Getting your hands on these smaller oak homebrew barrels can open up a whole new world of homebrews.

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Craft Brews Slowly Chipping Away At Big Beer’s Dominance

 Craft beers are offered for sale at Sam's Wines and Spirits in Chicago. Craft beer has about a 6 percent market share in the U.S. beer market, which is dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Craft beers are offered for sale at Sam’s Wines and Spirits in Chicago. Craft beer has about a 6 percent market share in the U.S. beer market, which is dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

America loves beer.

In the U.S., we drink $200 billion worth of the hops-brewed libation annually. What many Americans might not know is that most domestic beer, 90 percent in fact, is dominated by just two companies: Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

Innovators, however, are challenging that dominance in the form of craft beer breweries. Small “mom and pop”-style breweries — or regional breweries — now account for about 6 percent of domestic beer sales. That may seem like a small number, but it’s been growing every year since the early 1990s, while big brewers’ share is declining.

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