With harvest in the wings, we’ve gathered a few resources on barrel head removal and reinsertion for those of you fermenting in barrel.
For a step-by-step pdf tutorial, please click here.
For those who are more audio- and visually-inclined, in this video Master Cooper Douglas Rennie shows the entire process of reinserting a barrel head.
He says that first you make a paste using equal parts flour and water. You will run it around the croze, so the flour will harden around the thin part of the head (the weakest part).
Then the hoops get taken off a little, knocked with the hammer and hoop driver.
Douglas notes that the bilge hoop is the most important. You want to keep it loose but not loose. Otherwise, the head might fall in.
Next you line up the center of lengthways with the center of the bung stave. Using the head lifter tool, you will catch the inside of the head and pull in. Then, it’s back to the bilge hoop, which needs to be tapped down, so as to tighten around the head.
Still using the hammer and hoop driver, you drive the hoops down to tighten more around the barrel. Then leaning and tapping and moving the barrel head in the opposite direction, you will try to get the center of the head in the middle, aligned with the bung stave.
Douglas says it is key to ensure your fingers are down a ways and not wrapped around the hoop driver. You can go backwards or forwards—but you don’t want your hand to be in between the barrel and hoop driver.
Next you tap, using the hammer and hoop driver, to make the barrel level around the chime so that no water/wine can escape through the head/barrel seal. The final part comes with the head hoop: aligning the rivets and tapping the head down.
With the head set in place, it is time to clean out the excess flour squeezed from the croze.