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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Any suggestions?
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:55 PM   #11
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Awesome feedback Almighty! Thank you!

I thought about all the points you brought up. I'll respond to each one with my reasoning below...

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Sounds good except I have a couple of suggestions.

1) 3 oz of Oak cubes is a lot. I used 1.25 oz for my Flanders red with the same type of Oak and the Oak is definitely noticeable. If you really want a lot of Oak maybe add some now and taste in a few months and add more if you think it needs it. For a Flanders Red the Oak should not be a dominant flavor, but if that is your preference go for it. I have the oak cubes in a seperate container soaking in some cabernet. I am planning on changing the wine out every few weeks or so to kind of lessen the intensity of the oak. I am going to do this every once in a while for about 3 months. At 3 months, I'm going to rack the beer out of the plastic bucket to a carboy and add about a lb or so of currants along with the oak cubes that have been soaking in the cabernet.

2) As for the wine, I think it is a better option to add to taste when bottling or kegging. To me there is no reason it needs to be added to the beer now. I'm soaking the oak cubes in the wine to lessen (changing the wine out every few weeks or so) the oaky flavor, and infuse more of a cabernet flavor to them. In BYO magazine it advises to do it this wayPOOR MAN"S BARREL OPTION:

3) Are you going to age this beer a plastic bucket with a spigot? I would be concerned with too much oxygen. Some people have gotten away with it, but just for a few months. I'm planning on keeping it in the plastic bucket for three months, then racking it to a carboy, and adding the oak cubes and currants.

I have had good luck with Better Bottles and they make spigots for those. I just use an old auto-siphon or you can use a wine thief or turkey baster. I don't think there is any problem with disturbing the pellicle once every 3 months.
So today I took a gravity reading (.012) racked it off the yeast, added the La Roja dreg starter and a Belgian Sour Mix tube, and changed out the wine from the oak cubes. The wine tastes awesome! I am going to let it sit in the bucket for three months, and then during the the 1st or 2nd week in Sept, I'll add the oak cubes and currants.... I'll change the wine out every few weeks or so. I should have waited until about 2 weeks prior to racking to the carboy, but I already started it so I'll just lengthen the amount of time the oak sits on the cabernet in between changes.
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:40 PM   #12
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No Problem. I'm glad there are more people getting into this style of beer.

I guess my only problem is that you seem to be wasting a good amount of wine and Oak.
I'm not sure if I understand the difference between using less oak cubes Vs. using more cubes with less flavor.
Also how is the flavor of the wine different if it is coming out of the cubes Vs. being added straight.
I think that Blending is not used enough in homebrewing, but for sour beers it is the best way to get your desired flavors.
I think you should save your Oaked wine that you are removing. (in a CO2 flushed capped bottle in the fridge would be the best). Also make sure to have some more of the straight wine available at bottling. And then add the cubes. This will allow you to adjust the flavors when you are ready to bottle.
Most sour beer makers also have an acid beer (very acidic, (the best way is to have 2 types of acid beer, one completely lactic acid soured and one that has some acetic acid (or you can get away with balsalmic vinegar))) that they use also at bottling if they need to add acidity.
You may not need to do any adjustments but after waiting a year+ it is a good idea to have a way to adjust the final product

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Old 06-09-2011, 01:28 PM   #13
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Adding more oak that has had the tannins extracted gives the Brett more wood sugars to chew on. Soaking the oak in wine is more about what it does to the oak (leaching out compounds), if you want more wine flavor adding fresh wine directly to the beer is a good idea.

Agreed on blending being a big part of making a great sour beer.

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Old 06-09-2011, 04:33 PM   #14
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So do you think that the soaking in wine brings out different compounds than soaking in beer? It is a lower ph and higher alcohol which should help extraction, but I think with enough contact time with beer you would get about the same flavors.

Maybe the wine soak is a nice way to have some heavily complex oaked liquid in less time that can be blended in multiple batches.

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Old 06-09-2011, 04:36 PM   #15
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Old Sock,
How much Oak do you usually use in 5 gals of Flanders Red?

And can you estimate how much wine you have blended into a 5 gal batch? Maybe some examples from your experience. I'm thinking this is a great way to add complexity that I need to start doing more.

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Old 06-09-2011, 04:48 PM   #16
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I toss the wine out after soaking oak in it, it just doesn't seem worth hanging onto for 12-18 months waiting for the beer to be ready. I do it more to soften the oak flavors, I just don't care for the woody flavor that fresh oak gives sour beers.

For most sour beers I'm in the .75-1.25 oz range (talking soaked cubes). I've used a s much as half a bottle of wine in 2.5 gallons for a strong wine flavor in a 100% Brett dried cherry ale, and as little as 1 cup in 5 gallons for a subtle (but noticeable) addition to a sour blonde. Doing it to taste depending on the wine and beer is really the key.

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Old 06-12-2011, 01:55 AM   #17
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Oldsock, so the oak cubes alone won't give a noticable wine flavor to the beer? I don't want much, just a little bit to be noticeable. I would have thought the cabernet flavor would replace any oak flavor in the cubes, and when I finally put them in the beer it would then leach those flavors into the beer. All it does is lessen the oak flavor?

Russian River uses Cabernet barrels previously used to store wine for years. So the original oak flavors in those barrels have leached out while the wine aged in them over time has left its "mark" in the oak. By the time Russian River uses them, I'm sure there really isn't a whole lot of oak flavor left in them (and even less after each batch is aged in them). I didn't think Russian River added any wine to their beer, it was just the complexities gained from the oak barrels themselves that gave it that wine flavor. I'm going to switch out the wine only about 3 times (once a month) over the 3 month stretch of time the beer is in the carboy. Trying to replicate that same process... So, what I'm doing won't leave a wine flavor in the beer?

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Old 06-13-2011, 01:40 PM   #18
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You might get some subtle winey complexity from the soaked cubes, but in my experience it is not as potent as using an actual wine barrel. Not sure if it is an issue of soak length, surface area or what. It may be that you could boil 2-3 oz of cubes in several changes of water to remove almost all of the “wood” character, then soak them for a few months in wine before adding them to the beer (but I don’t know what advantage that would have over just adding the wine they soaked up directly to the beer).

Russian River at least originally blended Depuration (which is aged on grapes) into Temptation to boost the wine character. Not sure if they still do that though. I think the fruit characters in Supplication and Consecration make it hard to tell how much wine character they actually have.

Try it with just the cubes, but taste it before bottling to see if it needs a small boost in wine character.

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Old 06-18-2011, 01:30 AM   #19
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I'll do that. Thanks Oldsock!

To be honest I never even thought of adding the wine directly to the beer.

P.S. I read your article in BYO this month! I was reading your bio, and thought, wait a minute... I know that guy! Great article! Made me want to brew a Saison this summer! Oh and McKenzie Brew house is right around the corner from my In-Laws house! I can't believe their Saison won the Great American Beer Festival's award... Multiple times! I'll have to stop by and give it a try sometime, I've never been in there before!

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Old 06-18-2011, 02:32 AM   #20
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Oh and I just added the dregs from a Girardin Geuze 1882 Black label to the Cantillon starter. It had a pellicle starting to form before I disturbed it too. I should have gotten a picture.

I showed my wife the pellicle (like it was my son's first steps...) She wasn't as impressed as I was though...

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