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Old 06-04-2010, 06:38 PM   #1
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Default Age Sour Beers in Sealed Plastic Buckets

I am limited on space (live downtown San Diego) and I would like to be able to store as many sour beers as possible. So here is my idea and I am wondering if there are any comments on my thinking.

After I do my primary fermentation with either a clean yeast or Belgian yeast ( I guess even wild bugs), my plan is to rack into a plastic bucket (1 gal, 3 gal or 5 gal). The buckets will act as my secondary. I want to just seal the bucket up with the lid and not use an airlock.

My thinking is at this point the yeast is done and the bugs will not be producing CO2. Yes, if I add Brett than it will produce C02 (how much are we talking because the wooden dowel method works pretty well). I will use the plastic bucket without any sort of airlock so I should produce a bit of internal pressure which should reduce the oxygen permeation and probably get me into a good O2 exchange rate. I just like the idea of being able to rack the beer into a bucket and seal it up and then stack them in a closet to forget about them.

Please list any pros or cons you can see with this.

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Old 06-04-2010, 06:52 PM   #2
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Fermentation creates a shocking amount of CO2. It just takes the drop of .002-.003 to fully carbonate a beer, and sour beers often drop significantly more than that. there are other probablems using buckets as well (depending on who you ask the amount of oxygen that permiates in is high enough for acetobacter to thrive in the long term, this would be even worse in smaller buckets.)

Any chance you have a friend/relative with extra space? Until I had a basement I kept most of my sours at my parent's house (certainly prevents you from taking too many samples.)

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Old 06-04-2010, 08:36 PM   #3
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Well after writing the post, i was thinking that I can probably stick an Oak dowel in the top and have it just high enough to stick out of the bucket.

I have heard people have success with plastic buckets so I might try a gallon test batch.

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Old 06-05-2010, 03:14 AM   #4
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FWIW, The book Wild Brews talks a bit about plastic buckets being good for secondary for wild critters. Because of the fact that it lets in a minute about of Oxygen. I did a Flander's Red that I put in a plastic secondary for 3 years to pick up some oxidation notes. It tasted great and is still drinking ok 5 years later.

If you look at some cask distributors they sell plastic splines, I think that is what they are called. Some let lots of gas out and others let very little gas out. You could drill a hole in the bucket and plug one of those in. It would be more consistent that an oak dowel, especially if it was cross cut or quarter sawn.

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Old 06-05-2010, 03:44 AM   #5
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I wouldn't use a plastic bucket for any type of long term storage for a brew, especially a lambic/sour beer. I had a strong porter in a plastic bucket aging for a few months and it oxidized because the surrounding air permeated through the bucket. This won't happen with glass.

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Old 06-05-2010, 12:15 PM   #6
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Have a read of this post where the degree of oxygen permeability of plastic buckets is discussed.

Long term aging in plastic risks an overly acetic character due to the gas ingress through the plastic. I think better to stick with a glass vessel and perhaps a doweled stopper.

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Old 06-06-2010, 05:04 AM   #7
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I have seen the permeability stats shown for plastic buckets versus other materials. But what is not considered in those calculations are the internal pressure of the bucket. (My thoughts come from experience with water pipes and hydrocarbon permeation, where pressurized systems with HDPE are not as big of a concern as gravity flow systems). The trick for this application is controlling the amount of internal pressure.

And it appears that some people have had pretty good success. So looks like I will need to experiment. I will sour up 2 gals one in glass and one in a plastic bucket w/o a stopper. And report back in a year.

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Old 06-06-2010, 08:14 AM   #8
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Excellent idea - with the glass vessel aging as a negative control my expectation (only from what I've read - no prior experience!) would be a marked flavour difference in the plastic aged beer.

I've busily been sourcing a couple of large glass vessels here for similar ageing of a Lambic base beer for blending a gueuze in the future. I'm a big fan of Lambic beers but once they tip over into acetic character it's too much for me. I can't finish a glass of Rodenbach Grand Cru (and I've started a few!) for this reason.

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Old 06-07-2010, 03:59 PM   #9
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There is a difference in everyone's taste because I actually enjoy the acetic taste when balanced well. So I think plastic buckets might be limited to Flander's Reds or Oud Bruins because I think it will produce more acetic acid. So I'll do a couple test batches and we'll see what happens.

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Old 10-21-2010, 02:49 PM   #10
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In wild brews there's a photo of big plastic tanks, aging iirc a flanders. Can't remember which brewery tho. I think it depends on the style.

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