If I were to age wort in wine-barrels, let's say oak for instance, for six months , before I ferment it, would that improve the taste of the beer at all?
Can beer be aged in wine barrels like other alcohols?
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While I have no experience with this, I am pretty confident that it is not practical to age wort prior to fermentation in any container that is not fully sterile (not just sanitized). I imagine it would be safe to age wort if you pressure can it.
When we make wort, we are creating the perfect conditions for growing yeast (and lots of other microbes). Something will grow in the wort and start fermentation in your barrel.
Bottle bombs are bad - can you imagine a barrel bomb?
I would also question what chemistry you are trying to achieve by aging wort. Compared to the chemical profile following fermentation, wort is relatively simple - it is the yeast during fermentation that makes beer really interesting. If you are looking to add the character of the wood in the barrels (or the prior occupant of the barrel), then this is safer to do following fermentation.
There are lots of examples of using wood/barrels, both new and used, in making some specialty beers. However, I believe that these all use the wood post-fermentation.
Lots of beer styles benefit from some aging. If you age it in something neutral (e.g., glass, plastic, stainless steel), then you are just letting the beer chemistry, with living yeast still present, do its thing. When you age in wood, you are aging as well as imparting additional chemicals from the wood.
Does aging in wood improve the taste of the beer? Some people seem to like it (or we would not see commercial examples), but this is a completely subjective question and really depends on what you are trying to achieve.