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Old 05-31-2011, 02:40 AM   #1
jfkriege
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Default Bringing a barrel back for use with sours

I have access to a barrel that was used for a single beer. The beer came out clean, but the barrel was then left for a few months. It shows signs of some infection now.

My question is: Is it worth cleaning it out and making it a sour barrel with bugs that I pitch? I was thinking about setting something up to steam the inside for a bit or using one of the sulfur sticks.

Thoughts are appreciated.

Joshua

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Old 05-31-2011, 02:56 AM   #2
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I'd fill it with water to make sure it doesn't leak first.

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Old 05-31-2011, 03:22 AM   #3
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It is still watertight.

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Old 05-31-2011, 03:44 AM   #4
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FWIW, sulfur sticks are a waste of time and rarely work once an infection has set-in.

A small pressure cooker with a steam "wand" is the best method. Steam for 60 seconds, insert the bung for 5 minutes, drain, and repeat several times.

Pouring boiling water in, inserting the bung, and shaking for 5 minutes is a close second....and more laborious.

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Old 05-31-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
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Thanks, that is really good to know about the sulfur sticks.

I think I will try and cobble together a large steam wand for the barrel and go that route. I would love to be strong enough to shake it, but a 53 gallon barrel is a little big for me.

Joshua

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Old 05-31-2011, 12:41 PM   #6
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53 gallons??? Holy hell. Are you going to do some sort of solera or brew 50 gallons at once all the time?

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Old 05-31-2011, 01:41 PM   #7
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You can also try an acid wash. That's what they do in belgium when the thigs get out of hand in terms of bugs&souring.

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Old 05-31-2011, 04:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caiafa View Post
You can also try an acid wash. That's what they do in belgium when the thigs get out of hand in terms of bugs&souring.
The challenge is the porosity of the wood. An acid solution will not adequately sanitize the deep pores and will likely "bleach" the wood if left to sit too long.

On my trip to Belgium several years ago, I spoke with the head brewer at Cantillon and he stated they sterilize barrels between batches with steam. This was a surprise to me since I had assumed they inoculated the barrels once and once only.
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:29 PM   #9
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I suppose if the wood was inoculated for good, they wouldn't really need to go through the whole coolship exposure.

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Old 05-31-2011, 06:50 PM   #10
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I suppose if the wood was inoculated for good, they wouldn't really need to go through the whole coolship exposure.
I thought the same thing.

Apparently, the rate of growth for a heterogeneous bacteria/yeast culture is important for proper flavor development. A previously inoculated barrel would show less growth and produce a different flavor.

Ultimately, they blend barrels to produce the end product. It also stands to reason they want a certain amount of randomness in the flavor development to produce a complex sour profile.
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