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Beer Barrels

beer barrels

The humble beer barrel was once common site in Britain, often delivered by horse drawn cart to rural and town pubs alike. Now that its use for commercial brewing is a rarity it is often seen as a historical item, a symbol of quaint times and of an easier pace of life. We can bring the feel of those times back again with our individually coopered barrels. Our barrels haven’t been used for beer and cannot be used for beer because of modern hygiene standards but they are hand coopered using traditional methods.

If your interest in oak casks is for commercial use such as merchandising or for décor in bars, restaurants or on stage settings then we are happy to discuss your requirements. For garden planters, oak barrel water features and oak barrel water butts please refer to

Brewing could well be the most ancient manufacturing art in the world. The brewing of beer was common to many civilisations. The Chinese were brewing beer 5000 years ago and beer was a significant part of the diet for ancient Egyptians. In fact it was quite common for ancient Egyptians to spend evenings socialising in beer houses. Beer was so important to the Babylonians that in 2100 BC the King of Babylonia imposed a law to protect the consumer. Punishment for short measures served by an innkeeper was death by drowning.

The art of brewing beer was brought to Britain by the Romans. Although beer had been brewed for centuries by this time it had always been kept in earthen jars, dried gourds or bags made of skins or leather rather than wooden barrels. It was actually the Celts who first made wooden barrels. Celtic tribes had settled in much of Europe including the British Isles. They were a non-literate culture and so there are few written records of their civilisation.

Wooden barrels became popular for beer because of the advantages of their great robustness and the fact that they could easily be moved by rolling. By the 16th century they were widely used despite the fact that they often harboured bacteria that spoiled the beer. Brewers often cleaned affected barrels, called "stinkers", with chemicals such as lime and lye before refilling them. UK beer kegs were coopered to the standard size of 36 gallons.

In the mid-20th century stainless steel and aluminium barrels started to become prevalent. Today wooden beer barrels are a rarity and are generally only used by home brew enthusiasts and some specialist real ale breweries.

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The Wood Barrel Company
Lady Park, Gateshead,
Tyne & Wear, England. NE11 OHD

Tel: (0191) 4824389
Fax: (0191) 4876461

supplier of oak barrel products