When To Use Stainless Steel Barrels for Distilling
While copper and wood may be the first materials you think of when it comes to distilling, you’ll want to use stainless steel barrels for distilling at specific points in the process – namely, during fermentation before you distill and for storage afterward. Commercial alcohol producers have been using stainless steel for decades, and when you take a closer look, it’s easy to see why.
Using Stainless Steel Barrels for Distilling – Fermentation
After mashing grains to create whiskey or other types of spirits, you’ll need a new tank or barrel for the fermentation process. Since you’ll be adding either a starch or sugar and yeast, you need just the right vessel. Here’s why stainless steel barrels are ideal for the fermentation process:
- They’re non-reactive. While some metals can react to yeast, sugar, and the chemical inertia that results, stainless steel stays stable through the entire process.
- They’re corrosion-resistant. If you’re using the right grade of stainless steel barrels for distilling, you don’t have to worry about the alcohol corroding the barrel. Type 304 stainless steel with a 2-B (food grade) finish is the ideal material for the fermentation process.
- They’re easy to clean. Cleaning wood to the sanitation standards you desire for fermenting and distilling alcohol can be a tedious and difficult process. Stainless steel takes a short amount of time to sanitize, and the barrels can be re-used, since stainless is durable as well.
Using Stainless Steel Barrels for Distilling – Storage
Today, even producers of the finest bourbons use stainless barrels to store their spirits after distillation and/or aging – and with good reason. Here’s why you want to use stainless steel barrels to store alcohol:
- Preservation of Flavor. If you’ve aged your bourbon or whiskey and have created the perfect flavor, the last thing you want to do is lose it. Wood reacts with alcohol, but stainless steel barrels do not react to what they hold inside (see #1 above). Stainless steel barrels ensure that you have a flavorful, consistent product every time.
- If you need to store alcohol for an extended period of time, or ship it somewhere, stainless steel barrels are the only choice. Glass breaks; wood reacts; stainless steel stands the test of time. You can store alcohol in stainless steel for well over a decade and not worry about your product being affected or the barrel deteriorating. Both will remain exactly as you left them. And then you can clean them and use them again (see #3 above).
- No Evaporation. Stainless steel barrels are non-porous and sealed to prevent oxidation. That means you lose less alcohol to evaporation than you would with a wooden barrel, and you have more product to sell.
While copper may be great for the main part of the distilling process, stainless steel barrels are a must for both fermentation and storage. Make sure you use the right stainless steel barrels to protect the product you’ve worked so hard to perfect.
Learn more about why MSM stainless steel distilling barrels are the best barrels for your distilling needs.