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Old 09-26-2012, 10:04 PM   #1
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Default (Barrel) Beer finished at 1.000!?

Hey All,

So here is my situation. I made this RIS to be the second beer to go into my 5 gallon oak barrel which was used to age rum previously and had an imperial porter in it as the first beer.

I originally had used wlp1 but it pooped out too soon (from 1.092 to 1.030) so I repitched some wlp99. The 99 fermented the hell out of the beer and brought it from 1.030 to 1.011 which was a bit lower then I wanted but I threw it in the barrel anyways.

There was a small amount of residual booziness in the barrel when I racked it but I took a gravity reading from the racking tube last night as I was transfering it into a keg and it showed that I was at 1.000. This is nuts right? I am thinking I maybe got a bug but I really couldn't detect any off flavors when I tasted it a bit.

I know wlp99 can be a pretty hardy yeast but isn't it pretty impossible to get a beer that low without having something infect it? I have never had a beer finish this low so I am pretty curious. I was also planning on racking a beer into the barrel but probably will not if it is obviously infected...

I double checked my hydrometer was working and it seems to be calibrated correctly. It's possible that it is off by 2 points and the beers at 1.002 but that is still pretty nuts.

Thoughts? Thanks for the help.

Also curious if I should rack the next beer I have ready to go into the barrel or just call the barrel done and bottle it without doing that?

Recipe: http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebre...for-the-barrel

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Old 09-26-2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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Aren't barrels relatively notorious for harboring bugs? Even with a good rum-aging in them, I'd imagine they've got all kinds of goodies lurking in there to get at your beer.

Does the beer itself have any noticeable signs of infection?

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Old 09-26-2012, 10:30 PM   #3
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I tasted it and besides being very alcoholic tasting I couldn't really detect anything although I am not perticularly good at tasting stuff like that but I can tell if it's soured or acidic/vinegary...

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Old 09-27-2012, 01:53 AM   #4
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Could be Brettanomyces. Brett flavor is kinda earthy and can take a long time to become prominent, especially if you have a beer with a lot of flavors for it to hide behind. It will also devour all those longer sugar chains that your average yeast can't and it loves to live in the wood of barrels.

It is odd since was a rum barrel though- shouldnt be able to live in that kind of alcohol. Brett is more common in Wine barrels.

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:42 AM   #5
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If brett had knocked your beer down to 1.000 you would know from the taste and likely from the appearance. Was there a lot of alcohol left in the barrel? It's possible it mixed into the beer and is reflecting a lower gravity reading because of it. Did you adjust your reading for temperature?

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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The appearance is more what I would go on as well; if there's a film or obvious signs of infection, you've got an issue (albeit a potentially delicious one, eventually). If not, I'd suspect residual liquid from the rumming or washing of the barrel pre-beer stage soaking into the batch.

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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The beer I put in the barrel was actually the 2nd one that I put in. To get all the gunk and such out from the previous beer I rinsed it out with a couple gallons of pre-boiled water and then I threw about a cup of 151 in there and let it sit for a day or two while agitating it periodically so it would coat the entire barrel. Then I dumped the remainer and racked the beer in immediatly. Thus, there was some boozy aspect left in there but not as much as was originally.

I tried some again yesterday and it really didn't taste too off. No obvious brett infection as I didn't get any earthy or barnyard/horse blanket flavors, although my pallet isn't all that great. It's for sure an alcohol bomb and a bit thin but there is some barrel presence there. It did, however, have a slight rubber or vinyl taste. I know this can be considered an off flavor and is possibly the result of wild yeast (I filter my water and use stanstar so it's not from cleaners or sanitizers), but I thought this could also come from dark grains too.

I actually blended the beer, because before I put it into the barrel the gravity was so low, with another beer that had quite a bit of dark grain in it. The recipe is here:

http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebre...al-stout-blend

I did notice is has a little bit of carbonation so it's possible that my hydrometer was thrown off a little by that too...

There was no obvious film which I could see btw...

I guess I am also wondering if you all would just scrap the barrel? I have 7 gallons of old ale, 5.5ish of which will be going in, but I am warey of potentially throwing more money away by putting it in there...

Also pissed I might have to swap out all of my plastic now...

Thanks for the help everyone.

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:57 PM   #8
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Don't toss the barrel, even if its infected you can do sour beer in it. If you don't like sours then I'll take it, haha.

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Old 09-27-2012, 07:14 PM   #9
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Never tried a sour before but that's not a bad idea... i have been thinking about trying one but didn't want to buy all new plastic for it but now seems like i might have to do that anyways...

How would I make it a sour in the barrel?

You live a it far from me to send the barrel in the mail

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Old 09-28-2012, 05:45 AM   #10
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You can ferment it in your normal equipment, the rack to the barrel and pitch the Brett and bacteria there so you don't contaminate your regular equipment. it will ferment and sour in the barrel, and once you empty it (a year later or so) you can just rack a new beer in and all the bugs will be in the wood already and it will sour on its own without repitching.

I want a barrel pretty bad but just left a bad paying job so I couldn't afford it. tomorrow I start my new job as a brewing and wine making assistant so maybe they will trash an infected barrel that I can have.

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