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Old 11-03-2012, 12:19 AM   #1
Cincy17
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Default First Lambic Attempt

My birthday is 12-12-12 this year and somehow that translated in my mind that I need to brew a beer on that day that needs to be aged for quite a while. I have pretty much decided that I want to brew a framboise lambic. I have never brewed a a lambic before so I've got several questions.

-I can get a 5 gallon barrel from a local distillery/brewery that was a bourbon barrel, but has also been used to age a belgian trippel. Will this be acceptable as a fermenter and aging in for 1 year or more? Or should I just use a glass carboy with oak chips/cubes?

-Also, for those with experience with barrel aging, how likely are they to leak/seep? I live in an apartment and only have a couple places where I might be able to put the barrel.

-I want to go with just pilsner malt and wheat, but don't have the ability to do all grain yet. I have been doing partial mashes with up to 6-7 pounds of grain. What would be a good partial mash recipe for this?

-I plan on using Wyeast 3278. Will this work well enough to get a good lambic flavor in a year or so, and should I make a starter with this blend?

-I know you add the fruit after fermentation, but how long before bottling this would you add the fruit, and can you do it in the barrel (if I use a barrel)?

-How well does making fake aged hops in the oven work, what are the best conditions to do it, and how much should I use?

I'm sure I'm not the first noob to ask all of these questions, but I couldn't find the answers to some of them easily anywhere.

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Old 11-03-2012, 01:29 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cincy17 View Post
My birthday is 12-12-12 this year and somehow that translated in my mind that I need to brew a beer on that day that needs to be aged for quite a while. I have pretty much decided that I want to brew a framboise lambic. I have never brewed a a lambic before so I've got several questions.

-I can get a 5 gallon barrel from a local distillery/brewery that was a bourbon barrel, but has also been used to age a belgian trippel. Will this be acceptable as a fermenter and aging in for 1 year or more? Or should I just use a glass carboy with oak chips/cubes?

-Also, for those with experience with barrel aging, how likely are they to leak/seep? I live in an apartment and only have a couple places where I might be able to put the barrel.

-I want to go with just pilsner malt and wheat, but don't have the ability to do all grain yet. I have been doing partial mashes with up to 6-7 pounds of grain. What would be a good partial mash recipe for this?

-I plan on using Wyeast 3278. Will this work well enough to get a good lambic flavor in a year or so, and should I make a starter with this blend?

-I know you add the fruit after fermentation, but how long before bottling this would you add the fruit, and can you do it in the barrel (if I use a barrel)?

-How well does making fake aged hops in the oven work, what are the best conditions to do it, and how much should I use?

I'm sure I'm not the first noob to ask all of these questions, but I couldn't find the answers to some of them easily anywhere.
Lots of good questions. I don't know I have all the answers for you, and others may contradict what I say.

1) I have never used a barrel, but wood is more porous than HDPE, and size-for-size will let in more air than HPDE. Traditional sours are brewed in huge barrels, with a lot less surface per gallon than a small 5-gallon barrel. I also think some of the breweries have changed to stainless steel and HDPE containers for aging their beers. I would forgo the barrel for sour projects. If the barrel still has oak flavor, you might want to get it for other beers. I have found no difference in fermenting in HPDE or glass.

2) I have no experience with barrels, so can not say if they might leak.

3) Extract works well in sours. A partial mash will do fine. Pilsner + wheat is fine. Crystal shows up in Flanders ales, but not in Lambics. Basically any Belgian trippel or Farmhouse ale is a decent starting point. Mash mid 150s.

4) Should be a good mix. No starter necessary; it will allow the Lacto to get a start on the wort before the sacc yeast get going. I would recommend tossing in some dregs from some sours too. The dregs don't have to be in at the start, and can be added at any time.

5) Wait at least 6 months before adding fruit. I have been leaving mine in fruit for 8 months; seems to work fine, but I don't know if it is too long or not.

6) Don't bother to age hops. Just use low AA hops and limit the IBUs in the recipe to 10. General consensus is that lots of aged hops were used to protect the unfermented wort when left in the open for the 'bugs' to start work on it. We ferment in sanitized conditions and use a decent amount of sacc from the start, so the protection provided by lots of hops is not necessary.
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cincy17 View Post
-I can get a 5 gallon barrel from a local distillery/brewery that was a bourbon barrel, but has also been used to age a belgian trippel. Will this be acceptable as a fermenter and aging in for 1 year or more? Or should I just use a glass carboy with oak chips/cubes?
No oak is necessary. I would skip the barrel. This whole barrel thing is so overblown when it comes to sours, especially at our level. Breweries use barrels because they are big vessels that let in a small amount of oxygen, so they provide the "right" environment for souring. They are also cheap (at the pro level). At our homebrewing level, they are more expensive. It has that WOW factor to it, but honestly, the smaller barrels tend to let in way too much oxygen for lambic. You don't want that much acetic character. You can wax the barrel if you really want to use it but you would be fine in a glass carboy or better bottle.

The barrel from a brewery, and definitely a distillery, will be too oaky for lambic. Lambic is aged in well-used barrels that have no character left. Coming out of the distillery, there will be a lot of character left.

Quote:
-Also, for those with experience with barrel aging, how likely are they to leak/seep? I live in an apartment and only have a couple places where I might be able to put the barrel.
You need to make sure the barrel is water-tight before filling it, so it shouldn't leak at all.

Quote:
-I want to go with just pilsner malt and wheat, but don't have the ability to do all grain yet. I have been doing partial mashes with up to 6-7 pounds of grain. What would be a good partial mash recipe for this?
Just as much 40% wheat/60% pilsner as you can and make up the rest with extract. Lambic only needs to be 3-4% so it's not going to take a lot of extract to hit that.

Quote:
-I plan on using Wyeast 3278. Will this work well enough to get a good lambic flavor in a year or so, and should I make a starter with this blend?
No starter. It will make a fine lambic although you will get better flavor adding dregs of sours and/or funky beers because added bugs will give you more complexity.

Quote:
-I know you add the fruit after fermentation, but how long before bottling this would you add the fruit, and can you do it in the barrel (if I use a barrel)?
I bottled some raspberry lambic this year. I went 12 months straight, then added the raspberry for 6 months, then bottled. 4-6 months on the fruit is fine. You could add the fruit under less than 12 months but keep in mind with lambic, time is the #1 ingredient and the more you add the more complexity and flavor development can occur.

Quote:
-How well does making fake aged hops in the oven work, what are the best conditions to do it, and how much should I use?
I don't see a huge need for it, although there's a position that the science supports it. I don't think the oven trick oxidizes the hops like time will to provide the benefit science supports. Instead, you can just add enough hops to hit 8 IBU. That's what I do and my lambic is delicious.
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:44 AM   #4
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Awesome. Thanks for all the info.

I'm sure I will have more questions as I get closer to brewing it and throughout the process.

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Old 11-05-2012, 02:44 PM   #5
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All of these answers are great. I would like to point out that I make a pretty nice extract only lambic. The recipe is below, in the signature.

IMHO, sours don't need to be all-grain. Most of the complexity comes from the fermentation, not the grain bill.

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Old 11-07-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by AmandaK View Post

IMHO, sours don't need to be all-grain. Most of the complexity comes from the fermentation, not the grain bill.

While I would agree that for the generic "Sour" category this is correct, I'm not sure I'd 100% agree with that for lambic. It is quite important to get a certain amount of complex sugars that aren't easily consumed by the sacchro in primary and therefore left to the Brett in secondary. I'd attribute that to grain bill and brewing process.


To OP-
If you want to use a barrel, you need to buy it NOW and start washing it out, soaking, and trying to remove as much flavor from the distillery and the oak. I'd agree with ReverseApacheMaster, you might just want to skip the barrel, and instead put some oak chips (again soaked to remove flavor) in the carboy. If you do want to use a small barrel, I've recommended paraffin waxing the outside to cut O2 permeation to a more acceptable level.

Soak the barrel with water the night before you fill it. This will swell the wood and prevent any leaking. Once filled with beer, you shouldn't have to worry about it ever leaking.

You can add fruit right to the barrel (make sure to account for displacement), but I would wait until the lambic is at least 9mo-12mo old. You will only leave the fruit in there for 3mo and then its time to bottle. Fruiting lambic is a finishing treatment. Make sure the fruit is going on top of something already mature. If the base lambic isn't ready, don't fruit it.
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:23 PM   #7
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To OP-
If you want to use a barrel, you need to buy it NOW and start washing it out, soaking, and trying to remove as much flavor from the distillery and the oak. I'd agree with ReverseApacheMaster, you might just want to skip the barrel, and instead put some oak chips (again soaked to remove flavor) in the carboy. If you do want to use a small barrel, I've recommended paraffin waxing the outside to cut O2 permeation to a more acceptable level.

Soak the barrel with water the night before you fill it. This will swell the wood and prevent any leaking. Once filled with beer, you shouldn't have to worry about it ever leaking.

You can add fruit right to the barrel (make sure to account for displacement), but I would wait until the lambic is at least 9mo-12mo old. You will only leave the fruit in there for 3mo and then its time to bottle. Fruiting lambic is a finishing treatment. Make sure the fruit is going on top of something already mature. If the base lambic isn't ready, don't fruit it.
I think I am going to skip the barrel on this one. I will probably just use a glass carboy. Would you recommend using a secondary or can it stay in the same carboy the whole time since I am planning on using just the wyeast 3278 blend and not doing an initial ferment with only sacc? Also, what will be the best way to go about bottling this when the time comes (adding yeast and priming sugar, etc)?

Here is the recipe that I put together:

4lb 2-Row
2lb flaked wheat
2lb pilsner LME
1lb wheat LME
1oz Hallertau (20min)
Probably something like 8 lb of frozen raspberries

Some of the extract will be late addition and will make my calculated 8.8 IBU. Mash at 153 for an hour. Based on my efficiency that should give me an OG of around 1.050-1.055.
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:12 PM   #8
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Keep it on the cake the whole time. Brett will use the chemicals released by dying cells to make more funk.

Bottle as normal but add a little wine yeast to make sure it fully carbonates.

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Old 11-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #9
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After bottling what is a good amount of time to let it rest before popping one open?

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Old 11-08-2012, 05:56 PM   #10
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Complex sugars? Like what's found in maltodextrin? I haz the confusion on what was meant.


I bottled my first lambic at 1.3 volumes and waited 3 weeks to open it.

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