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Old 08-07-2012, 04:20 AM   #1
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Default Starter for lambic barrel

This might be a dumb question, but do i need a starter for my vial of bug farm to pitch a 35 gallon barrel (30 gallons of beer leaving 5 gallon headspace till primary is done.). Thought I read a starter would throw the balance, but 30 gallons is a lot. Thanks.

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Old 08-07-2012, 01:43 PM   #2
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Yeah, that's not enough for 30 gallons. It's probably ok for souring although there will be a definite lag but you need a larger saccharomyces colony to get primary fermentation done. So you could pitch the bugfarm plus a big starter of a sacc strain or try to develop a big starter from bugfarm but as you said, it will probably throw off the balance.

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Old 08-07-2012, 01:58 PM   #3
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What if I pitched the Bugfarm into a 5 gallon carboy, let it go for a day or two and then pitched that onto 15 gallons in the barrel and then topped of with another 10 another day later. The reason I ask is that would mirror my production schedule. It would sort of be a step up, but is it too short a schedule?
I am nervous to pitch a big sacc starter as I don't want to mute the Bugfarm character. I also have a 1 gallon dregs starter that has 3 weeks of growth I could add, but again I don't want to outcompete the Bugfarm. Let me know your thoughts

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Old 08-07-2012, 02:35 PM   #4
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My LHBS did a 5 gallon starter for a 60 gallon barrel with Bugfarm. Do tr calculations on mrmalty but I don't think you will have any issues making a starter. The sacch should grow quicker than the bugs, the balance of the blend might be different but it won't be bad.

I've seen Al recommend starters on Facebook with some blends in big batches do if he says it's cool I'm sure you're good. Just mash some 2 row for such a big starter, the DME would be pretty expensive.

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Old 08-07-2012, 02:43 PM   #5
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It might work out that way. I am brewing 20 gallons today for 4 five gal carboys. I will get wyeast Lambic blend, one a I gallon dregs starter, another the ecy Brett blend, and the last the Bugfarm. When I brew the 35 gallons for the barrel, I will just dump the whole 5 gallon Bugfarm in there. How long should I let that carboy go before I brew and pitch the barrel? Thanks for all the help.

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Old 08-08-2012, 03:33 AM   #6
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The deed is done. It was ridiculous doing it alone, but here is 20 gallons pitched as described. The Bugfarm should have at least 2 weeks to grow before I pitch it in the barrel. I can't think of brewing right now.



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Old 08-14-2012, 09:02 PM   #7
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"The deed is done." LOL.

In unrelated news, I WANT your system.

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Old 12-16-2012, 04:52 AM   #8
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The deed is REALLY done.

Well I guess I can top the ridiculousness of the 20 gallon turbid mash day. I took the day off Thursday and did it twice!

I made 40 gallons! And it only took two runs on my system augmented with a 10 gallon kettle on a burner outside and 14 hours from start to cleaned up.

25 gallons went into the barrel and I mixed in my 5 gallons of the Bugfarm VI batch and then took 5 gallons back from the barrel to replace the carboy. 10 gallons was split into two new carboys pitched with Brett Brux Trois and the other Brett Clausenii. And the last 5ish was frozen in jars and will be for starters So i now have the following:

5 gallon Carboy each
Brett Brux Trois
Brett Clausenii
Wyeast Lambic Blend
ECY Bugfarm VI
ECY Brett Blend
Mixed dregs

And the 25 gallon barrel with Bugfarm VI

I will have a lot of Lambic two years from now. Thanks for the input all.



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Old 12-16-2012, 11:33 AM   #9
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I know this is late to the thread. I don't care whether it's 5gal, 10 gal or 20 gal I severely underpitch this type of beer. I did 12 gal of lambic which I sent another member here home with 5 gal. My remaining seven got maybe 20ml of slurry from an ECY20 vial and he got maybe 10ml of slurry from a Bugfarm5 vial. The reasoning behind such severe underpitching is the whole way the traditional lambic producers do their thing. I highly doubt that they are getting any where the cell densities that our conventional brewing knowledge would prescribe. So if I have a 5 day lag on until a vigorous fermentation then that's fine. I think a single vial of bugfarm is about the right pitch rate for a lambic in a 60 gal barrel. The development of flavor in my lambic has been quick and it's pretty damn awesome. I think a large part of its flavor at this point (10 months roughly) is that I "underpitched" so bad. I wanted to make all the yeast in the culture really fight to ferment just like they have to in a natural spontaneous fermentation. The other reason for this is because it's not like you'll cause a lack of attenuation or a beer that is too estery or anything like that. If anything the increased esters from a stressed pitch like I suggest would provide more flavor for the brett to modify through the long fermentation.

Also as a side experiment I did a saison and made it with the saved bottle sediment from all the sour beers I drank in the couple years. I didn't do a starter I just dumped some slurry into the 8 gal of wort and let it ride. I guess it's about as traditional of a saison as I could make considering this is probably what the cultures were like before they cleaned everything up using single culture techniques. Ooh yeah and it's delicious.

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Old 12-16-2012, 03:15 PM   #10
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Thank you for the input. I think this is another area where you are fine either way. I understand the argument that it might be under pitched in the traditional brewery, but those cool ships have alot of surface area and are exposed all night. The beer then is put into a huge oak vessel or smaller barrels, that already have the bugs present. So I think it is a reasonable pitch.

Also, through the turbid mash you produce a wort that no matter how much sacc goes in, it can only eat so much and there will be plenty for the bugs.

Again, I think both ways will produce good beers an I will report back the results of this method once testable.

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