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Old 01-27-2013, 08:39 PM   #1
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Default Flanders Red in a Barrel

So one of my LHBS just got a shipment of 8 gallon Burbon barrels in. I would like to brew a Flanders Red to secondary in a barrel, but had a few points that I would like clarification on.

I am not sure on the grain bill yet, but it will be one of the ones from here. I plan to use 3763 Roeselare and on fermenting 2 batches, one that will go into the barrel and one that will stay in plastic, that way I can blend if necessary. My questions are:

1) Should I do a sacc primary and then add the Roeselare when I transfer to the barrel, or just pitch Roeselare? If I do just pitch just the Roeselare, should I transfer the yeast/bacteria cake and all to the barrel or only the liquid?

2) Is a 5G batch enough volume in a 8G barrel? I have heard mixed things about headspace. I assume the brett will create a pellicle which should limit oxidation from headspace, and I could flush the headspace with CO2.

3) Any other useful advice?

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:27 AM   #2
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The Roeselare has sacc in it, I'd just pitch it from the beginning. I don't know about the cake.

I don't know much about barrels but I would be concerned about using a new barrel for a long aging. You might over oak your batch. I'm pretty sure there's something of a barrel break in period before it becomes neutral enough to be used for long term storage. You'd want to age a few other things in the barrel and slowly progress toward longer and longer aging times, making sure to try samples often. I've also heard that you shouldn't leave your barrel empty, so when getting ready to bottle you should have something else ready to go in it.

Don't take my word for it though, hopefully someone who has real experience will be able to enlighten us.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:32 AM   #3
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You say they are 8 gallon bourbon barrels? So they have aged bourbon whiskey for several years and nothing else? I would definitely run a stout or something through it first to pull out some of the bourbon and mellow that barrel out a bit. I'd even rinse it a few times after the first beer.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:43 AM   #4
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Ditto on the running some more beer through it first. I've heard 6-6-6 for you first three batches. 6 day, 6 weeks, 6 months. I'd want it full, personally. Another concern would be the much higher rate of oxygen diffusion in such a small barrel for longer term aging.

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Old 01-28-2013, 01:07 AM   #5
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I've never used a barrel, so really have no experience of what I am talking about, so feel free to ignore this, but, from my reading ......

- Smaller barrels give more surface area to volume (that is a fact). Result is that you get greater effective O2 permeability per unit volume.

- Smaller barrels use thinner wood, making them more porus than larger barrels.

- For the same size container, wood is more porus than HDPE.

A small barrel is probably good for oaking a batch for a few days, but probably not good for long term aging of sours. You would probably be better with a HDPE container.

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Old 01-28-2013, 01:37 AM   #6
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With regard to your second question, I think you want the barrel as full as possible (completely full) so that the wood doesn't dry out. Dry wood = lots of O2 and leaks.

Also, I don't have a barrel yet (will your LHBS ship?), but there's been some discussion on this forum and here about waxing the exterior of small barrels to reduce O2 permeability, allowing more extended aging

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Old 01-28-2013, 02:50 AM   #7
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Yes these barrels were used exclusively for Bourbon Whiskey aged for at most 2 years (not sure on the exact age on the barrels.) I have not seen one of the barrels yet, I just know that they exist. I do like the idea of running a couple of other beers through it help it mellow out, might be a task for Denny Conn's Bourbon Vanilla Porter. I could wax part of the barrel, any suggestions on how much to wax? I may experiment with the 6 week beer, and see if I can taste any oxidation.

I am not sure if the LHBS would ship, I could certainly ask.

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Old 01-28-2013, 05:20 AM   #8
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Ya Flanders and bourbon don't sound good together. Do a stout or something and don't leave it in for 2 years, in a small barrel that is way too long.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:16 PM   #9
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First, wash the barrel. Then do the primary and 'secondary' in the barrel, only use Roselare (second generation is even better than first). I am currently 6mo in on a Flanders Red I have done this in a 60 gallon wine barrel. As for headspace, leave a little while actively fermenting, then top with a small batch as fermentation slows down. Continue to keep full as it ages, you don't want a lot of 02 in there.

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Old 01-28-2013, 05:34 PM   #10
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I have sours aging in two 5 gallon spirit barrels now. The first fills had picked up enough character after 3 weeks, second fills after 8 weeks. I'll let the sour browns in there now age until they are oaky enough (~12-16 weeks?) and then move them to carboys to finish.

I like the idea of bourbon and sour red, I had an excellent batch of Jolly Pumpkin La Roja that was very bourbon-vanilla forward. However, as others suggested, best to age something big that can take lots of oak/spirit. I also rinsed the barrels between each fill with near-boiling water to remove more character/yeast.

I'll also say that I've had great luck aging sours in better bottles. There is something special about barrel aging, but you can make some great sours without it.

Good luck!

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