Real Goofy Homebrew Club Names
Cocktail Preview: TBD in San Francisco, Opening Nov 1

Caring for Mini Barrels - Beware of Chlorine!

image from wikipedia
If you're using barrels or wood chips to make barrel-aged cocktails, be aware that they can develop 246-TCA, better known as "cork taint." 

Cork taint doesn't only come from corks, it turns out; it can come from barrels. One way that it forms (in part) is when chlorine bleach is used to clean corks (or barrels). 

Wikipedia says, "Chlorinated phenols can form chemically when hypochlorous acid (HOCl-, one of the active forms of chlorine) or chlorine radicals come in contact with wood (untreated, such as barrels or pallets.) The use of chlorine or other halogen-based sanitizing agents is being phased out of the wine industry in favor of peroxide or peracetic acid preparations."

Much tap water contains chlorine or chloramine, so don't clean out your barrels with untreated tap water. 

Depending on whether your water is treated with chlorine or chloramine you may take a different approach to getting rid of that in the water (as opposed to buying gallons and gallons of distilled water). Chlorine and chloramine require different filters or amount of time boiling the water or time to leave it to fizz off. 

A little bit of research gives widely different answers as to how long you'd have to boil water to eliminate chloramine (that's what's in San Francisco's drinking water). The answers are everywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to 2 days of boiling. Carbon filters also remove chloramine, but they have to be really good/fresh filters. Some detailed information from a brewing perspective is here.

This was first brought to my attention by Carl Sutton of Sutton Cellars. I asked him what a good cleaner for barrels would be and he recommended Proxycarb. Some research tells me that has the same active ingredient (Sodium Percarbonate) as OxyClean (though I don't know if OxyClean is food-safe so you should probably buy it from a wine/beer store).

Have fun with your barrel aged cocktails, and remember to avoid chlorine when cleaning them out. 



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Camper English

Humberto Marques of Copenhagen sent me the following other warning for people doing leather-aged cocktails. (I've only heard of this being done at one place so far but good to know.)

For those doing Leather aged cocktails should read this :
Make sure of this that there's NO Chromium(VI) compound in the leather.
Chromium(VI) is known to cause various health effects. When it is a compound in leather products, it can cause allergic reactions, such as skin rash. After breathing it in chromium(VI) can cause nose irritations and nosebleeds.
Other health problems that are caused by chromium(VI) are:

- Skin rashes
- Upset stomachs and ulcers
- Respiratory problems
- Weakened immune systems
- Kidney and liver damage
- Alteration of genetic material
- Lung cancer
- Death


My hubby once ordered a rye in a bar in Portland, which shall remain nameless, and it was undrinkable. He was very familiar with that brand of rye and knew exactly how it should taste. This tasted more like minty, mildew cleanser and was obviously bad. Why? Did they soak the corked top in bleach or even tap water? Whatever they did, it ruined the rye in the bottle. It was the only time he had ever returned a shot to a bartender, and probably her first time as well. She just tossed itand asked huffily what else he wanted to drink. It killed us that she didn't care that she planned on charging people $9 a shot for the rest of that horrid bottle.

Camper English

I had that happen except with a soapy beer glass at a beer specialty bar. They treated me as if I was saying it to be an asshole rather than 'you might want to know this so you don't ruin a bunch of customers' nights' - they didn't even smell the glass to confirm. I haven't been back.

In With Bacchus

In all honesty, you could probably treat your water with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and it'd be fine.

The stability of ionized chlorine and/or chloramine is insanely poor. They will latch on to whatever they can get their hands on in order to stabilize their electron rings. Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) should work just as well, producing standard table salt (NaCl) and carbonic acid (H2CO3) in small amounts. The recommendation for proxycarb is 1 tbsp per gallon but it's far more reactive/unstable, so 3 tbsp per gallon should clear up chlorine problems.

Emphasis on SHOULD. I'm not certain but that seems like a viable, cheap, easy to obtain solution.

Camper English


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)