Oh, welcome to the video in this video, I’m going to give you a first look at my new American white Oak Foeder. Along with an introduction to Foeder’s in general and all the important details that I hope will answer your initial questions.
I will then run through the initial stages and methods of what is involved in preparing a Foeder for you along with the extras that I’ve bought and why.
This is part one of the new series of videos that look at Foeders for home brewing. So you can certainly expect more updates in the near future. So let’s get started with a walkthrough of the foeder and its components along this and introductory information.
As you can see from this full image, this is certainly a very beautiful piece of quality equipment. Firstly, this foeder was supplied by Foeder Smith, who can be found online foedersmith.com for pricing and inquiries.
At this initial stage, I am still evaluating this product, but my first impressions I have to say have been incredibly positive. This is Foeder Smith’s 0.5 BBL version, which is the smallest of their range and is intended for home brewers.
In metric this is 60 liters in total volume with a usable capacity of 58.5 liters. This is the equivalent of 15.85 us liquid gallons of total volume of a usable space of 15.45. Usually a foeder is essentially an oversized barrel with extra ports. These are become a specialty popular for craft breweries in recent years.
Here, you see the sampling port. This is an important port, as you will wish to monitor how the Oak flavors are contributing to your beer. I went to a factual transfer. All of the ports on this Foeder are, are compatible with the 1.5 inch tri clamps previously known as tri clover.
Here is the port at the top of the unit, which is used for filling as well as an airlock or blow off since these can be used for fermentation and conditioning. This Foeder also has this own quality tag, which is certainly a nice touch. I resisted the temptation to wear it around my neck so fall, but I make no promises for the future at all.
And here is the side port, which is intended for transfers. After external transfer from this port, this leaves 3.5 liters or 0.9 to us liquid gallons worth of space below that, which could be an ideal of riding your next wort to shortly after transfer of a previous fermentation. This may sound like a lot, but do keep in mind that these are wide units. For when your wish to claim the food of fully out there is also a bottom drain port now shown.
Note the butterfly valve used at the bottom here is the same as the side port, which have two different opening settings. This is all supplied as standard equipment with this particular Foeder which includes two of these butterfly valves rather than just the one shown in this image.
All of these metal fittings are of course stainless steel, and the quality is very good. These are the exact same fitting is used on Foeder Smith’s entire range of food is which goes up to five BBL. Naturally the vast majority of their ranges intended for the commercial beer market.
Through how to get started with a Foeder or when it first arrives. Once delivered and unboxed, you’ll know that your Foeder will be wrapped in this waterproof plastic for overall protection. And this should remain on until you’re ready to rehydrate it, which is an essential process to ward against leaks.
Naturally, when you’re going to removing this plastic, you’re going to want to be very careful with how you do this to not spoil the aesthetic of the barrel. I went round mine carefully with scissors and gradually removed at all to reveal the beauty hidden behind the wrapping. This was an enjoyable experience on its own and we have not really even got started just yet.
After the unwrapping, it is then time to add the various fittings to the foeder. Before applying these new fittings, these were all soaked in a powdered brewery wash type cleaner water mix.
These were then rinsed in clean water and then sanitized. This is important to remove manufacturing oils from the stainless steel. You will note some extras here. I would explain these a little later in the video.
I started off by turning the Foeder on its side, using the supplied blocks to support it and promptly added this drain pipe. This Foeder weighs in at just over 30 kilos or 66 pounds when empty. So moving it around at this stage is easy enough.
Here is a closer look at the butterfly valve before I add it. These are certainly solid, good quality fittings. There are two important things here in terms of the fitting firstly, ensure that you get the butterfly valve on nice and straight.
And when you’re adding the tri clamps always be mindful to position they’ll move with removal in mind. I then added the plastic end piece that was removed during the cleaning and sanitation steps to complete this part
Now seems like a good time to show you the two settings of opening that are available with these butterfly valves. Next comes the sampling port and here is a closer look at this fitting. I’m very glad that this very standard size of tri clamps is used with all these fittings. It certainly makes for a very easy experience. Naturally the side port was almost the same process as the bottom port so no need to go through this.
In regards to the top port, this is fine as is for now, but I will be using this extra separately,purchased barbed fitting on it later on for during fermentation which we connected to hosing that will form a blow off. I will show this in part two.
Let’s now move on to the next stage, which is rehydration. Naturally during the rehydration process, there is the likelihood of leaks.
So for this reason, it is wise to place it somewhere where those will not matter all where you can put something underneath the Foeder to protect the floor and of course yourself, in case you are married. As you can see here, I was not taking any chances after all my wife is a Viking. Personally, I used a bruiser 65 liter to heat the water to 75 degrees Celsius or 167 degrees Fahrenheit before transfer, which was easy by extending the recirculation pipes hosing.
This sort of temperature will help the woods swell and hold quickly. Here are the drips that came from my rehydration barely anything but naturally experience may vary here. The locations of my tiny drips were just in two areas at the front here, the dripping lasted for just a few seconds and then it stopped.
This rehydration is a vital step, but it is important to realize that you will need to find a suitable placement for your Foeder. Now there will be temperature suitable to avoid future leak problems. This ideally needs to be between 50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius.
So certainly do not be too far away from this to avoid issues. When rehydrating be sure to fill all the way up so that all of the Oak gets to benefit. During the rehydration, I closed this top port with a blank and waited for just over 24 hours and experience no further leaking at all.
After this period, I loosened as top blank to avoid a vacuum when pumping out this initial rehydration water. Having a suitable pump for this and other steps is pretty much essential unless you plan on having your Foeder up high enough to have sufficient gravity for transfer.
Here I am using the classic 25 watt mach II pump, which I found to be ideal.
Just be sure that you open the butterfly valve first to fill the pump before you engage it by simply parking it in. It will not work otherwise. You will know that the water out for hydration is turned dark, but as you can see, when I left the pipe, this water is now running clear. So this must have been wood dust within the barrel for manufacturer, which has now been removed.
Due to the way it was involved, I removed the rehydration water into stages and disposed of it by using the brewzilla 65 pumps straight into this bath, which is perhaps an odd thing to have in a home brewery but it’s certainly very useful.
As I watched the last of this transfer. I enjoyed the remainder of the very nice aromatics from within this water from the American white Oak. Once the Foeder was totally empty, I then started filling the brewzilla up again with water.
And this time I added some citric acid at the rate of 64 grams to cover the 60 liters. This was then heated up to the rehydration water temperature before being added into the Foeder for cleaning. This does not need to remain for long, but I personally left it in for some hours.
When transferring this out, I decided to leave some of it in to keep the Foeder hydrated as it would not be adding my first brew just yet. So it made sense to remove via the side port, as you can see here, this time attaching a sight glass that I will be using for beer transfer later on.
This was added simply to show you this as part of this video. With the side butterfly valve open, it was now time to engage the pump and then transfer the citric acid water mix back into the brewzilla for disposal. As you can see here, this transfer was nice and clear.
I am hoping that the first brewing intened for this Foeder will be brewed quite soon. So you can look forward to a follow-up to this video in the near future, depending on when you’re watching this, of course, but before finishing this video, I want to cover some more information.
Firstly, Foeder’s such as this one can be used for various different beer styles. This can be styles from lagers Saison, farmhouse ales, as well as strong beer styles from around the world, including Belgian styles, plus stouts, porters, and Barley wines.
Sour beers are also a very popular choice and the Foeder is also ideal for the Solera method, which has been found to be very reliable and yet very easy to produce sour beer. Having these various beer styles on Oak suddenly creates a very nice flavor and a very nice aromatic effect that is very pleasing.
Secondly, the manufacturing process used by Foeder Smith is an extensive one, which ensures that all staves are air dried for at least two years. And all Foeder are.
tested for at least 24 hours before gaining the state of approval for sale. It should be understood that these are simply not just barrels with ports. They are very much like a piece of high quality furniture that has a great deal more functionality.
And finally, because I know at least a few people will ask Foeders are not suitable for pressure. And they do need to be vented via an air or blow off when containing either warm or finished beer that is conditioning.
If you have any further questions, then feel free to reach out to either the Foeder Smith themselves all contact me via the comments section of this video. I would be very glad if any comments in relation to your thoughts about this video or the Foeder itself, of course.
Firestone Walker’s Eric Ponce shares advice and lays out the careful process behind the brewery’s barrel-aged and blended blockbusters such as Parabola and Anniversary Ale.
Part II: Wort Transfer, Fermentation, and Beer Transfer
Part III: Solera Sour Beer Method
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!