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Old 03-01-2013, 01:46 PM   #1
Schemy
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Default Club Sour Project

The club I am in will be acquiring a barrel previously used to age beers from a local brewery. We intend to turn this into a solare (hope that's correct) for lambic blending projects.

Have any of you done anything similar? Any tips on barrel use, blending, and "stock" turnover?

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Old 03-02-2013, 12:38 AM   #2
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Check out Oldsock's blog. He has a ton of great info about his solera project.
http://www.themadfermentationist.com...er-barrel.html

There are also a couple of Basic Brewing Radio episodes where he discusses it.

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Old 03-02-2013, 12:44 AM   #3
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Yes my club did this.

We did several batches of Judgement Day and then combined them into a cabernet barrel, pitched a healthy starter of WLP655 (sour mix 1) as well as the dregs from a couple of bottles of Russian River Consecration, and maybe a couple other things. After ~6 months it had a tart aroma but not so much sour to taste, and after 12 months it was fantastically delicious. It has a very complex character and is better than anyone in the club could have hoped for. We have been pulling kegs from it and topping it off for about a year and a half now. Maybe 2 years? About 5-6 months ago it beat 40+ other entries in the category to win a gold as a 16E Belgian Specialty.

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Old 03-02-2013, 02:03 PM   #4
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Has your club done barrel projects before? I brought up the idea of a group barrel with my club and apparently their can be some 'group dynamic' issues. Never really got the full story on what happened, but something to think about if you've got less reliable or catty folks to deal with.

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Old 03-02-2013, 08:07 PM   #5
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Was the barrel originally used for wine or bourbon? If it's bourbon, it might be very tricky to use for a sour project.

My club acquired a 60 gallon white wine barrel that we did aged a lambic-esqe concoction in. After 6 months it was terrible, but around a year it started to get really good. It's about 20 months now and the last sample we pulled was phenomenal (somewhat similar to Girardian Gueuze), and we are now making arrangements to empty and refill with a new batch.

IIRC correctly, we gave the barrel a rinse and then sulfured the barrel via a sulfur stick. After the sulfur was allowed to do its thing, we filled and drained with water a few times to help purge the sulfur. (Don't ever sulfur a bourbon barrel!)

Recipe wise, we just came up with some guidelines (1.042, lots of wheat, <4 SRM) but it was up to each brewer to come up with their actual recipe and choose what "bugs" they wanted to pitch. This made it really easy since we didn't have to come to a consensus on all the recipe specifics.

In all, about 1/3 of the batches were done with a turbid mash, 1/6 were extract batches, and the rest was done with single infusion mashes. The primary fermentation was done outside of the barrel, and we pitched sour mixes from both WL, Wyeast, and ECY along with variety of bottle dregs. All of the specifics here: http://www.seattleproper.com/Projects/sourbarrelproject


Last edited by rorygilmore; 03-02-2013 at 10:21 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:42 PM   #6
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I'm in the early stage of an ongoing 3 year planned solera. Here's the pitch I wrote up for it initially in case it helps anyone:

2012 Funky Barrel
The Funky Barrel was set into its cradle in January 2008. It’s seen Flanders Red, Kreik, Oud Bruin, and Framboise. As old as it is, it’s hanging in there and producing gold medal product. We’re going to let it ride for one longer project before retiring it. The last project will be a Lambic Solera lasting at least 3 years, maybe more.
The barrel will initially be filled with a straight lambic wort made up with about 60% Pilsner malt and 40% Flaked Wheat. Mash: 15 minute protein rest at 120F with a 45 minute Sac. Rest at 155F. Hopping with 3 year old Tettenanger hops to a low IBU (5-10 max). Wort will be chilled inline directly into the barrel which is already inoculated with bacteria. A 3 gallon starter will be prepared in advance pitched with 4-5 vials of lambic blend, ECY bugfarm, or a blend of several isolated lambic strains depending on availability. Dregs from the Framboise are saved if necessary.
The initial fermentation and souring process will run its course for a minimum of 6 months at which time the first partial exchange will take place. Subsequent partial exchanges will occur approximately every 6 months with some flexibility.

The barrel holds 60 gallons. The project will have 10 shareholders broken into five two-member teams. Each team will take turns performing the exchange duties when they come around. Those steps are:
1. Brew 16 gallons of lambic wort based on the original recipe.
2. Ferment the beer on neutral ale yeast of choice for 2-3 weeks.
3. Rack 15 gallons of barrel lambic to carboys/cornies.
4. Rack replacement 16 gallons back in.
5. The extracted lambic will usually continue to be cared for by the exchange team, aged for about 6 months on some kind of fruit that is agreed to by a majority of shareholders.
6. After the aging period, the team will prime and bottle the 15 gallons in 750ml Belgian bottles and cork and cage, except for approximately twelve 12oz bottles. (The club owns a corker for use)
7. Distribute shares at about 7-8 bottles per shareholder.
8. Exchange team submits bottles to competitions on behalf of the club (club reimburses entry fees on club projects).
Note that shareholder teams will need to have collective system capacity for 16 gallons of beer or otherwise borrow equipment. In the same regard, aging vessels will be dedicated for 6 months.

Timeline:
START Brew 60
.5 yr *1st Ex 15g
1yr *2nd Ex 15g *Distrib. 1st 15
1.5yr *3rd Ex 15g *Distrib. 2nd 15
2yr *4th Ex 15g *Distrib. 3rd 15
2.5yr *5th Ex 15g *Distrib. 4th 15
3yr *Distrib. 5th 15 and 60gallons of glorious complex blended lambic


Cost Estimates:
The cost of entry into this project includes allowance for several costs including the initial barrel fill ingredients, Fruit/Corks/Cages at exchanges and a commitment deposit.
Initial fill – Sack Pils, Sack flaked wheat, 5 vials of yeast/bug starter, Propane. $150.
Fruit per exchange – 2 lbs per gallon x 15 gallons= 30lb at average of $3/lb = ~$90
Corks/Cages per exchange = $30
Commitment deposit: $60 per team ($30 each). This is paid upfront, then reimbursed when your team’s exchange bottles are distributed.

I will serve as project treasurer and the balance sheet will be publicly displayed in the project thread on the website. You may sell your share to someone else at any time.
The total output per share is 10 gallons: 5 gallons of blended Lambic (gueze) of mixed age up to 3 years old and five 1 gallon shares of mixed fruited lambics over the course of the project.

Fine print:

If you sell your share in the project at any time, the price is up to you. You can use the current balance sheet to figure out how much value has been extracted from the project so far or just make up a number you both agree on. If you are in the project and disappear from the club without making arrangements to sell your share, the project coordinator will attempt to contact you and come to an agreement. If you cannot be contacted you forfeit your share.

Common fruits for Lambics: raspberry (framboise), peach (pêche), blackcurrant (cassis), grape (druif), or strawberry (aardbei), as either whole fruit or syrup. Other, rarer fruit lambic flavorings include apple (pomme), banana (banane), pineapple (ananas), apricot (abricotier), plum (prunier), cloudberry (plaquebière), lemon (citron), and blueberry (bleuet).

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Old 03-03-2013, 01:20 AM   #7
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Bobby,

Sounds great, thank you for the detailed post.

I soon plan on trying Sour beers, and I just purchased three 6 gallon better bottles.

I wish I was in your club instead of the one I'm in.

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Old 03-03-2013, 03:38 PM   #8
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Wow that is incredibly detailed. My club doesn't have attorneys to draft solera agreements. Myself and two other guys brewed up 60 gallons and racked them to a wine barrel. We brew up 20 gallons every so often and pull out a corny each. Easy as that.

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Old 03-04-2013, 01:33 PM   #9
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Thanks for the great responses.

We have done previous aging projects before. We were able to acquire a Templeton Rye Whiskey barrel, that we aged a Belgian Rye Imperial Stout for 6 months, then followed that with an ESB that we aged for about 2 months. We are a fairly small club, and everyone is on board with project. The other agings worked out really well.

The barrel we are acquiring is/was a Chardonnay barrel. It has had 3 beers aged in it, so any wine character will be at a minimum. Really we just need a solid vessel to house 60 gallons for the solera. We've been trying to locate a barrel for over a year, and feel very pleased that we were able to finally locate something. Not exactly what we had envisioned, but will work well.

Bobby, that is a really good write up for you group. I may borrow some ideas from there to keep our group on track with this project.

Thanks

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Old 03-04-2013, 04:26 PM   #10
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I realize it's way overboard on details. It's just that when you have this many people committing to a 3 year project and putting over $100 in each, people want to make sure it's all above board and well managed. None of our other project pitches are like that since it's usually under $50 and less than a year of aging.

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