Barrel Rack!

Picture of Barrel Rack!

Got a 55 gallon whiskey barrel that you want to age your homebrew in, but don't have a way to support it? This is the Instructable for you!

In this Instructable I will share my plans for building a rack to support a full 55 gallon barrel. Barrel sizes are pretty standard, but it's still a good idea to check your measurements.

I will not cover how to weld, but I will mention some useful tips and traps to look out for.

NOTE: a full barrel can weigh between 400 and 500 pounds, so make sure you put it on the rack before filling!

Let's get started!

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Step 1: A Word on Safety

Picture of A Word on Safety

Metal work can be dangerous so make sure you take the correct steps to protect yourself!

- Make sure there are no combustible materials in your work area (leaves, cats, dry grass, oils...)

- Keep a fire extinguisher within 25 feet of your work area

- Flame Resistant clothing to protect from becoming the Human Torch

- Heavy Leather welding gloves, no missing or burned digits

- Protective goggles and face protection, gotta keep that modeling job

- Welding hood, don't want to burn those retinas

Chances are good that you'll be doing this work outside, and it can get hot under a welding hood. Stay hydrated fool!

Usually I would recommend a beer before the start of a project, but due to the nature of the work with power tools we'll save that for the end.

Step 2: Design your rack

Picture of Design your rack
Side View.jpg

I used a modified version of the double racks you commonly see in breweries. Remember this structure needs to hold a lot of weight so don't skimp on material!

These are the sketches I came up with. I have terrible drawing skills so I used TurboCad ($30-40) to draft this.

This design uses 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube and 1 1/2" x 1/8" flat bar.

kakashibatosi11 months ago

I have a question on barrels, if you happen to know! When brewing in a used barrel, what steps need to be taken to make sure it's safe for beer? I mean to keep the beer from getting infected with bacteria or otherwise. Does the whiskey still in the wood prevent this? Nice 'ible :)

DangerHat (author)  kakashibatosi11 months ago

Great question!

At the very least you need to make sure it doesn't leak. For long time storage (not in use) it wouldn't be a bad idea to fill it with water to help keep the oak from shrinking, causing gaps between the staves.

The barrel we got was from a local brewery who used it to age their barleywine in, so it wasn't direct from the distillery. We ended up boiling a few gallons of water and sloshed it around real good before draining it into a bucket, before we filled it with the beer. We then used StarSan to sanitize the 'bung hole' and surrounding surfaces before we racked into the barrel. Keep in mind, we're not using the barrel to ferment in, only to age in.

Barrel Cleaning.jpg

Ah, so not so much a cask ale as a "barrel character" beer. That makes sense. I can only imagine the horror of fermenting in a barrel (in that cleaning up would suck). you're so lucky to get it after a beer brewery, it's gonna add some cool flavors. What kind of beer did you brew? I'm going to throw my guesses in to something dark unless you like the really funky stuff (like re-hopped barrel IPAs).

Did you know somebody at the brewery that got you the barrel, or did they sell it to you (or perhaps you're in a local brew club!)? I definitely don't have space to do something like this, but it's really awesome to see someone else doing it.

I would think that whiskey in the barrel (the Devil's cut) would be able to handle any sanitizing needs. A wine barrel or new one? I'm not sure...

DangerHat (author)  Jobar00711 months ago

If the barrel was direct from the distillery, you're probably right...

Bard11 months ago

I would hate to put out a cumbusting cat being they don't like water and all

seamster11 months ago

Nice work! Great tip on keeping those combustible cats out of the work area :)

I got a good laugh out of that!

DangerHat (author)  seamster11 months ago

Thanks! Yeah, gotta watch those cats, they're a structure fire waiting to happen =)

Jobar00711 months ago

Step 8 should be "Have a homebrew!" ;)

DangerHat (author)  Jobar00711 months ago

+1 for homebrew!

bricobart11 months ago

Nice idea mate, too bad you're living overseas ;)

I guess your concept is suitable to be transported (barrel inc) with a pallet transporter?

DangerHat (author)  bricobart11 months ago

Sure is! It will fit most pallet jacks/forklifts.