The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Treatment and handling after you are done distilling.

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The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:26 am

Large oak barrels are the gold standard for long-term aging of brown spirits. Home distillers generally cannot fill a full-size barrel, so alternatives are needed for aging. This forum is filled with such alternatives, many of them very good, but all of them differ in some functionally important way from a large oak barrel.

I have developed and made small "barrels" which I believe will give small-scale distillers a way to simulate the inside of a large oak barrel. The spirit "sees" only stainless steel and white oak, and the oak surface area to volume ratio is similar to that of a large oak barrel. There are no gaskets.

Here's what we're going for:
IMG_1398.jpg
The first two BBOBs


The body of the barrel is an inexpensive stainless steel bain-marie insert from Amazon. These are 6-qt sizes, $15 each. The wood is white oak, about $4 worth each. The spigots are either stainless steel ($11) or wood ($5-$10)

Next: Construction
Last edited by Badmotivator on Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:29 am

Construction of the BBOB

Overview:
1) Pre-cut appropriate wood
2) Toast wood
3) Connect "staves" with dowels
4) Cut the barrel head round and drill holes
5) Char if desired
6) Swell the barrelhead
7) Drain and fill with spirit

Next: Pictures and explanation
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:38 am

Let's get started! First we need some suitable wood. I used a 1" quartersawn white oak board. I ripped some stave-width boards and chopped them to suitable lengths. You can do as many staves as you like; on one I did two staves, on another I did three. I think I like the look of three best. Here they are in the oven for toasting:
IMG_1282 (1).jpg


Here they are toasted:
IMG_1283.jpg


Lay the staves down and plan how they will be connected:
IMG_1284.jpg


Make three or four pencil marks for doweling. Get out your self-centering doweling jig (Harbor Freight, $15) and drill holes for those dowels.
IMG_1285.jpg
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The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:47 am

Test the fit of the dowels. Press the staves together to make sure there aren't any LARGE gaps between them. Very very small gaps will be okay as the swelling will seal them.
IMG_1288.jpg


Put a tiny amount of glue some runny flour paste on each dowel, put it all back together, and clamp the barrel head blank.
IMG_1289.jpg


Measure the radius of the very top of your bain marie insert. Using a compass, make a circle on cardboard and cut it out. This is just a precaution so that you don't cut your oak round too small (disaster) or too large (adds extra work.)
IMG_1290.jpg
IMG_1292.jpg


If you've got the right size on your compass, mark it onto your barrel head blank. Clamp it to something and cut out your round using a jigsaw or scroll saw or band saw or whatever.
IMG_1293.jpg
Last edited by Badmotivator on Thu Feb 11, 2016 4:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:58 am

Cut the round barrel head slightly too large. This leaves room to refine the roundness and also put a little bit of bevel on the edge. The bevel is useful because the bain marie inserts are very slightly tapered. You want to maximize the contact between the barrel head and the can. I use a belt sander to round and shape the edge of the barrel head, dry-fitting it in the can often as I go along.
IMG_1294.jpg


Drill a hole for the tap and a hole for the top bung plug thing.
IMG_1295.jpg


To get rid of marks, unevenness, dirt, whatever, I throw it through a planer.
IMG_1296.jpg


Make a peg out of scrap white oak for that top hole and see how it looks.
IMG_1298.jpg
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The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:08 am

If you are going to char your oak, now is the time. You don't want to do it earlier because you want to treat that char layer nice and gentle. This should be the last step before swelling the barrel head in the bain marie insert.
IMG_1299.jpg
IMG_1300.jpg


Set the charred barrel head in the insert with the tap in place. (Edit: the stainless steel tap comes with two gaskets, two washers, and a nut. You don't need those. Throw them away. The wood will seal up against the threads of the tap just fine) Fill it up and over the top with water, upright, for a day or two. After that time, top it up and jam the peg in the top hole. Place the BBOB on its side and wait to see what it shows you. :) After an hour:
IMG_1301.jpg

After a few hours:
IMG_1302.jpg


Now get your spirit ready. Make a nice label, drain the water and fill with spirit, and put the thing away for a couple of years or more.
IMG_1398.jpg


It might be fun to make a holder of some kind for the BBOB. A little wood one like barrels get? A wood box with a round hole for the BBOB to go into?
Last edited by Badmotivator on Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:14 am

One interesting accessory possibility is a thermowell. ($6, Brewer's Hardware) This, combined with a probe/thermostat and a heater of some kind, would allow you to dial in a "climate" for your barrel.
IMG_1259.jpg
IMG_1260.jpg
IMG_1268.jpg
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Brutal » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:21 am

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing Badmo! I need some of these.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby 3d0g » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:25 am

My fear is without a croze, temp / pressure changes will eventually cause the head to pop out.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:28 am

Surface Area to Volume Ratios

My research showed that large oak barrels have an internal SA/V of between 50 and 74 sqin/gal. Interestingly, as time goes on and the spirit is given to the angels, the SA/V ratio changes fast:
Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.20.18 AM.jpg


But in a BBOB, the SA/V ratio does not change over time.

I have calculated my SA/V ratios at 51 for my 8qt BBOB and 43 for my 6qt BBOB. You can adjust this by setting the barrel head slightly deeper into the insert. I am about to make a couple more out of 4qt bain marie inserts, which would have a SA/V ratio of about 36 given the dimensions of the inserts. This is pretty low, so the spirit's going to have to sit there for a while. :)

Cheers, everyone. I'd be happy to help out if you have any questions, and I would certainly appreciate advice on how to make them more effective, cheaper, more easily constructed, etc.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:39 am

Also, you may want to buy a good supply of quartersawn white oak right now, cut it down to plausible sizes, and stack it outside for weathering. :)
IMG_1347.jpg
IMG_1348.jpg
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:54 am

Very interesting idea, BaMo, thanks for posting.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:58 pm

3d0g wrote:My fear is without a croze, temp / pressure changes will eventually cause the head to pop out.
Good point. When I do a heated one I might contrive some kind of croze. If I'm simulating the tropics (~100F) there really won't be much pressure, but it would be worth doing some safety testing with water first. The barrel head can't go in, so I just need to prevent it from popping out. Three stainless steel nails through the side and into the wood should fix the head in place.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Yummyrum » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:40 am

Badmotivator wrote: Three stainless steel nails through the side and into the wood should fix the head in place.


Good thinking 99. Badmo that is an excellent write up and tute . :thumbup: ...and I can honestly say that because I had a similar idea but couldn't come up with a working solution . :cry: I love your doweled sections and the final solution of using Staino nails to hold the wooden end in .

I'm keen to see if it works for you . I also believe ( but its just my opinion ) that this method should work and not cause over oaking issues some claim due to the smaller Oak area to volume ratio . Some have tried an Oak lid on a glass or staino container in an attempt to seal but use the wood as a vent to the angels but I "feel" that the wet on one side , air on the other method is more inline with how a barrel works :think:

Heres the link to my idea .

Here's the diagram for those that can't see it in the link

Oak end drum.jpg
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby cuginosgrizzo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:46 am

BadM that's a great idea, wonderfully described and it also looks great!

I would just suggest that you do not use any glue to keep it in place, the spirit is supposed to seep into and out from the wood, possibly bringing that little amount of chemicals in the liqor. Pressure from the wood expanding should keep the staves in place without glue....
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby der wo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:57 am

Thank you Badmotivator for this thread and the up to now perhaps easiest but working realisation of this idea.
I hope it works without accidents long term. Please keep us updated.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:02 am

cuginosgrizzo wrote:BadM that's a great idea, wonderfully described and it also looks great!

I would just suggest that you do not use any glue to keep it in place, the spirit is supposed to seep into and out from the wood, possibly bringing that little amount of chemicals in the liqor. Pressure from the wood expanding should keep the staves in place without glue....
Thank you! The function of the glue is to hold the staves together during the shaping, actually. I agree, once the barrel head is installed and swelled the glue is not needed. I tried to make the barrel head without glue once but the jigsaw and the sanding vibrated the pieces apart too much.

If your drill leaves dowel holes that are very tight in the dowels, the you can omit the glue. Thanks for pushing me on that. Getting rid of the glue, even the tiny amount I use, would be more elegant.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby der wo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:13 am

Perhaps first swelling the connections with water. And then sawing the circle?
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby ShineRunner » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:16 am

Great idea!

I would think you'd be able to use a couple clamps, along with the dowels, to be able to hold it in place while cutting the circle out? A little extra PITA but better than risking glue in your drink.

A little off topic, but where do you source the wood for it?
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:23 am

Yummyrum wrote:Good thinking 99. Badmo that is an excellent write up and tute . :thumbup: ...and I can honestly say that because I had a similar idea but couldn't come up with a working solution . :cry: I love your doweled sections and the final solution of using Staino nails to hold the wooden end in .
Heres the link to my idea .

That's awesome! You totally almost had it! The key insight for me was when I watched a video of how a real barrel head is made.

I believe nails are not needed to secure the barrel head. If you build a BBOB you should see how firmly held the head is after swelling before you bother with nails or screws. I'll change my mind if I see any looseness or if I have a failure.
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The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:27 am

ShineRunner wrote:Great idea!

I would think you'd be able to use a couple clamps, along with the dowels, to be able to hold it in place while cutting the circle out? A little extra PITA but better than risking glue in your drink.

A little off topic, but where do you source the wood for it?


Good thought on clamps. Also I could maybe strap them together on the back face with staples or something, shape the barrel head, then remove the straps. That's worth a try.

I get the wood from a local specialty lumber store.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:48 am

der wo wrote:Perhaps first swelling the connections with water. And then sawing the circle?
The first barrel head I made, I cut and shaped the round and toasted the wood after. The toasting shrinks the wood a little, and not uniformly. It made an oval! After that experiment I decided I would toast before shaping because I want maximum benefit from the swelling.

I see a similar problem with swelling before shaping. Maybe I'm not imagining your idea correctly?
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:59 am

"insert something profound and meaningful here"
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:00 am

Would making another wooden circle that fits all the way into the bottom of the insert be too high of a ratio and cause over oaking?

Also, do you rotate the barrels frequently?
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby ShineRunner » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:02 am

Badmotivator wrote:
der wo wrote:Perhaps first swelling the connections with water. And then sawing the circle?
The first barrel head I made, I cut and shaped the round and toasted the wood after. The toasting shrinks the wood a little, and not uniformly. It made an oval! After that experiment I decided I would toast before shaping because I want maximum benefit from the swelling.

I see a similar problem with swelling before shaping. Maybe I'm not imagining your idea correctly?



The way I see Der Wo's process working would be to put some water in with the dowels, instead of glue, and letting those swell up enough to make a secure connection. Not sure if there would be enough water to effectively swell though. I would think with tight dowel holes and some swelling from water, it should hold- and not swell all of the wood.

SR
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby der wo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:43 am

ShineRunner wrote:
Badmotivator wrote:
der wo wrote:Perhaps first swelling the connections with water. And then sawing the circle?
The first barrel head I made, I cut and shaped the round and toasted the wood after. The toasting shrinks the wood a little, and not uniformly. It made an oval! After that experiment I decided I would toast before shaping because I want maximum benefit from the swelling.

I see a similar problem with swelling before shaping. Maybe I'm not imagining your idea correctly?



The way I see Der Wo's process working would be to put some water in with the dowels, instead of glue, and letting those swell up enough to make a secure connection. Not sure if there would be enough water to effectively swell though. I would think with tight dowel holes and some swelling from water, it should hold- and not swell all of the wood.

SR

Yes, Badmoti, you are right. But perhaps SR got the right answer for that.
Or glue it with caramel. :D Perhaps it improves the taste.
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:49 am

Hillbilly Popstar wrote:Would making another wooden circle that fits all the way into the bottom of the insert be too high of a ratio and cause over oaking?
I don't know, but probably, for my purposes at least. My goal was to duplicate the conditions in a large oak barrel, so I aimed for oak ratios as similar as possible to that of large barrels, and I got really close. If you want to simulate a smaller barrel for any reason, then adding some oak to the inside of the can would help get you closer to your goal.

Hillbilly Popstar wrote:Also, do you rotate the barrels frequently?
I haven't been. Maybe I should? It probably wouldn't hurt, and may help avoid some problems?
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 10:02 am

der wo wrote:Or glue it with caramel. :D Perhaps it improves the taste.

Ah, the old Klebrigzuckerholzstift. That's not a totally terrible idea!
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby Badmotivator » Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:33 am

Wheat paste as glue! I think I'll try that today. :)
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Re: The Badmotivator Bain-Marie and Oak Barrel

Postby der wo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:11 pm

For a copy of Jim Beam you could dip the whole lid in glue :lol:

And there are wonderful smelling glues, which would work even on the stainless pot. :sick:
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