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Old 12-14-2010, 04:19 PM   #1
EinGutesBiersSWMBO
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Default Infecting a Barrel?

Has anyone infected their own oak barrel for the purpose of sour beers?

I bought two new 6 gallon oak barrels, one for regular oak aging and the other I'd like to do Brettanomyces or Lambicus. Or both?

Just wondering what the best way to go about the process is.

Any help is appreciated!

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Old 12-14-2010, 04:30 PM   #2
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I don't know about best, but the way we've done it is to pitch a commercially available blend such as Wyeast's Roselare or Lambic Blend. After one batch, the barrel is inoculated and can never go back. From there you just rack your wort or beer in and wait.

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Old 12-14-2010, 08:07 PM   #3
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I've only started with pre-infected barrels, so I'm not a great source, but since you have brand-new oak, you might want consider brewing something standard to pull off a lot of that oak flavor before you go adding bugs. A buddy who brews fantastic sours did a big imperial stout in his wee barrels first, and then funked it up afterwards. Of course, whatever yeast you use first will infect the barrel, but you can always add some brett and lacto ontop of that. I still would occasionally dump dregs in my pre-infected barrel under the assumption that a little microbial diversity can't hurt (as long as it's intended for beer).

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Old 12-14-2010, 08:11 PM   #4
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That's all great to know!

The barrel maker gave me instructions on how to do a boil inside to remove a lot of the potency of the oak. I'm thinking I'll give that a shot since I don't want the oak flavors in the sour barrel.

Exactly, microbial diversity can be a pretty good thing!

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Old 12-15-2010, 02:09 PM   #5
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Say, does anyone know of either a good online resource or a book on barrel aging brews?

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Old 12-15-2010, 03:45 PM   #6
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Wild Brews is a good source of info on barrel aging sours, as well as maintenance and selection.

For our three (soon to be four) barrels we’ve used 5-10 gallons (8%-16%) already established sour beer (say 6 months old) . This is how Rodenbach does their barrels and so far it has worked well for us. Assuming you have some sours going that is.

With new wood you might want to cycle some clean beers through the sour barrel first since they’ll pick up enough oak in a couple weeks. The boil certainly seems promising, what was his method?

Good luck.

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Old 12-15-2010, 03:55 PM   #7
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Great! I have that book, I'm still working through the Farmhouse Ales book in the series. I'll have to pick up the pace and get through them all.

This is what I got from the maker on boiling:

If you wish to reduce the amount of color and flavor from the wood even in the first batch, or if you wish to use your barrel for some other purpose and do not want the color and flavor you can: Rinse your barrel thoroughly and then fill it with boiling water, let it cool and empty it. Refill the barrel with cold water, let it settle at room temperature and empty it again. You will observe the first few times the drained water is dark so repeat and refill the barrel with water as many times as needed until the water gets clear. This will reduce the amount of color and flavor the wood will impart on your spirits.
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Old 12-15-2010, 10:28 PM   #8
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I have a 15 gallon barrel i infected this year.
Before it housed pino noir.

I went the bugs/dreggs route.
I ordered 1 pack of Lacto, Pedio, Brett L + B.
I also added dreggs from several russian river bottles.
I pitched all the bugs after i did my primary in glass.

The aging beer has a oil slick of bugs on top with brett taking hold.
The smell is barn yard with tropical fruit. (heavy on the barnyard)

I plan on doing a Solera with this lambic in 12 months and a few more barrels.

Wild Brews has lots of great info.
Good luck and keep us posted.

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Old 11-29-2012, 04:29 AM   #9
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How do you find pre-infected barrels? I am very curious to try this out.

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Old 11-29-2012, 04:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBiersSWMBO View Post
Has anyone infected their own oak barrel for the purpose of sour beers?

I bought two new 6 gallon oak barrels, one for regular oak aging and the other I'd like to do Brettanomyces or Lambicus. Or both?

Just wondering what the best way to go about the process is.

Any help is appreciated!
Here is how I infected my first barrel:
http://funkfactorybrewing.blogspot.c...ng-barrel.html

Looking back, I'm not sure this process is all that necessary. Simply pitching a sour yeast blend culture for fermentation would inoculate the wood as well.

P.S. - Lambicus is a strain of Brettanomyces.
P.S.S - If you are using a new barrel, you may want to do a couple oaked beer batches before using the barrel for prolonged sour aging. The new oak may be too strong of a flavor for your sour beer.
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