Whiskey Barrels for Homebrewing!

Oak Barrels for Aging Homebrew!

Oak barrels can be used to used to age stouts and porters, age other beer styles, make sour beers and more.

New oak barrels can be had in sizes ranging from 1 liter all the way up to 1 barrel/53 gallons. As with most things 5 gallons seems to be a sweet spot for a lot of brewers. Larger barrels can be good for prolific homebrewers or group brews and smaller 1 to 5 liter sizes are great if you’re wanting to give barrel aging a try without a huge amount of expense or space.

Why Are Used 5 Gallon Barrels Hard to Find?

Since I started doing Homebrew Finds 5 gallon barrels have been a tough find. They would generally become available in batches and would usually sell out quickly. I believe the root of this availability issue is… most distilleries use larger barrels. It’s easier and probably cheaper to manager large barrels compared to smaller barrels.

In the past couple years this has become even more of an issue. I think this stems from distilleries using these smaller sizes less and less. There have been some times recently where I was aware of no in stock options.

More About Smaller Barrels:

Smaller barrels can also be dual purpose: You can age one (or more) batches of still spirits and at that point, the barrel becomes a used whiskey barrel that you can use for beers.

A past description from William’s Brewing re: their smaller barrels explains this well:

“When you distill a spirit, it invariably comes out clear as water. Put the clear spirit in contact with charred American Oak, and it turns amber and mellow over time with toasted wood vanilla-like richness. Want to speed up the aging process? Our new American Oak Barrels are charred on the inside for Whiskey, Bourbon, Tequilla, Rum, and Brandy aging. The large wood surface contact area per ounce compared with commercial 53 gallon barrels means this will age spirits much quicker than larger barrels. Handmade in Mexico following centuries old cooperage methods; the valve is wood and sealed with leather, and the top plug is wood and sealed with a wrap of leather. No plastic, glue, or rubber are used in construction.”

Adventures in Homebrewing:

AIH is one of the most reliable sources for used barrels. In the past they have offered a wide variety of spirit options in 5 to 15 gallon sizes. They also generally have new barrel options. As with all barrel sellers, availability can be an issue, so my suggestion is to make your purchase if they have something you want in stock.

Oak Barrels at Adventures in Homebrewing

Label Peelers:

american oak barrels

As of this update, Label Peelers just announced the availability of new used barrels.

American Oak Barrel 5-Gallon

William’s Brewing:

William’s periodically has used barrels available. When they become available they usually sell out quickly.


I don’t recall ever seeing used barrels offered by MoreBeer. They’re a reliable source for brand new barrels.

Oak Barrels at MoreBeer

More Barrel Sources:

Tip: When looking at eBay and Amazon look for offerings that are specifically for aging beer and wine. Rain barrel and decorative options are also out there. In my opinion, you should disregard those as they may not be food safe or they may be beyond repair for use with beer or wine.  If a barrel leaks too much = it’s now a decoration.

Barrel Books, Tools and Supplies:

Finding Used Whiskey Barrels!

Used 5 gallon whiskey barrels are very popular for homebrewers.  Brewers use them to age stouts and porters, age other beer styles, make sour beers and more.

This is one case of a smaller item being more coveted than a larger one.  Most distilleries use larger 10 and 15 and… up – like 53 gallons sort of up.  As you can imagine, most homebrewers don’t want to find a place for a 15 or 53 gallon barrel in their home.  Also, most don’t have the ability to brew 53 gallons to keep one of these behemoths full.  Beyond being sought after for their reasonable size, there is also a supply issue.  As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t a standard size for commercial distilleries.  That means supply is relatively low on the 5 gallon size.

Some sources for used 5 gallon whiskey barrels:

These are sources and specific offerings we’ve seen in the past (some past graphics are below). I’m not suggesting that any of these are actually in stock, but these are some places to check if you’re in the market

  • Search “used whiskey barrels” on eBay – probably the best current source for used barrels
  • Search “used whiskey barrels” on Amazon
  • William’s Brewing – has carried Reservoir Distilling Bourbon and Wheat Whiskey Barrels and Balcones Distilling Barrels
  • Great Fermentations – has carried Hartfield and Co Bourbon Barrels, New Barrels, Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey Barrels, Journeyman Distillery Used Whiskey Barrels, West Fork “The Colonel”  and “B-Street Blues” Barrels
  • Adventures in Homebrewing – Balcones Distilling, Sons of Liberty. They’ve also carried some really unique used 5 gallon whiskey (and other spirits) barrels including Maple Syrup, Cherry Brandy, Peach Brandy, Apple, Brandy, Tequila, Rum, Gin, Wheat Whiskey, Rye and Bourbon.
  • Used 5 Gallon Whiskey Barrel affiliate link, note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link, this has been out of stock for years

Tip: When looking at eBay and Amazon look for offerings that are specifically for aging beer and wine. Rain barrel and decorative options are also out there. In my opinion, you should disregard those as they may not be food safe or they may be beyond repair for use with beer or wine.  If a barrel leaks too much = it’s now a decoration.

Other Wood Options:

Barrels can be expensive, hard to find and require a lot of space. Here are some options for adding wood to your beer without a barrel

  • Used Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Staves via Adventures in Homebrewing.  These are are from Kentucky bourbon barrels and are a great way to get some the barrel experience at a reasonable cost and with no space or storage issues.
  • Wood Chips at Adventures in Homebrewing
  • Search “homebrew oak chips” at Amazon
  • Oak Infusion Spirals via William’s Brewing.  Multiple toast levels are available
  • MoreBeer doesn’t generally offer used barrels.  They have a good selection of new barrels, but they don’t seem to be big into used barrels.  One really cool offering they do have that is related to used barrels is… MoreBeer has worked closely with Russian River on their Russian River Kits including Pliny and Blind Pig.  These recipes aren’t clones in that they are directly from the brewery.  So much so, that their Consecration kits actually have chunks of real Consecration Barrels included with them.  From MoreBeer: “we actually include chunks of oak from actual Consecration barrels with each kit. Periodically we get a call from Vinnie that they are bottling Consecration and that we can come pick up some of the used barrels.”  Because of this, these kits can have some availability problems.  Really cool!  Extract and All Grain – via MoreBeer

Toasting Your Own Wood Chips!

roasting your own wood chips for homebrew

For Historical Reference – Graphics from past Barrel Offerings…

William’s Brewing:

homebrew used whiskey barrels

USED 5 GALLON OAK WHISKEY BARRELDrained 5 Gallon Reservoir Wheat Whiskey Barrel

Drained 5 Gallon Whiskey/Bourbon Barrel

rye whiskey barrel

Great Fermentations:




Adventures in Homebrewing:

10 Gallon Used Whiskey Barrels Home Brewing

Used 15 gallon Whiskey BarreleBay:

Freshly Dumped 5 Gallon Whisky Barrel - French Oak - Balcones Distilling Waco TX


used whisky barrels Fresh 5 Gallon American Oak Barrel Used 15 gallon Whiskey Barrel

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