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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Barrel procured, any advice?
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:38 PM   #1
Xpertskir
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Default Barrel procured, any advice?

Brew buddy just got a used (wine)barrel for us to fill(full size, recently emptied). We have done a lot of research and although the timing of the barrel being available has left us a little behind the 8 ball, we have a general game plan in development.

We are going to be using the madfermentationist(old sock) modified Solera approach, BTW.

Any general advice, or things any of you guys have learned the hard way that you'd like to pass on?



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Old 05-30-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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How is the barrel being stored? If there is any residue in it you run the risk of acetobacter taking up residence. Rinse it at a minimum. Better to fill it with a holding solution or burn a sulfur wick if it'll be awhile before you fill. Our apple brandy barrel is pretty acetic from leaving a gallon of beer in there for a month after we bought the barrel...

Bottling some of our second pull from the solera this weekend. Really looking forward to how the portion dry hopped with Citra/Mosaic/Nelson turns out!


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Old 05-30-2013, 02:14 PM   #3
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Currently its sitting with residue with the bunghole covered. It's being rinsed tomorrow and put in his basement. It was emptied last week.

The fill will likely happen in the next couple weeks and likely ferment in the barrel.

Any advice on stepping up mixed cultures of bugs?

We are using the trub from a batch of flanders brown he is about to rack. We are also planning on pitching the dregs from a handful of bottles of commercial sours. Additionally we are looking at stepping up some WY or WL to get our numbers.


I have also been considering getting a brett beer going and pitching the whole thing to up the ratio of brett. That of course depends on how quickly we can get the barrel filled.

Love the blog BTW..
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:19 PM   #4
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Go down to your water heater and turn it up as high as you can (they can get pretty hot). Let it heat up and then fill the barrel with that. If you have a utility sink in the basement, those typically have a pretty direct line to the water heater and you can normally attach a hose to the end of those faucets.

Give it a good hot soak for a day and then dump it. Store it with the bung hole down and allow it to dry out. This will give you a couple weeks time.
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xpertskir View Post
The fill will likely happen in the next couple weeks and likely ferment in the barrel.
fermenting in the barrel presents some challenges. you need to leave headspace for krausen. headspace = some of the barrel isn't wet, so it can shrink and let air in. too much air = acetic favors, acetobacter, etc. will you be topping up the barrel with fresh wort as the krausen recedes?

you could ferment in buckets/carboys and transfer to the barrel once most of fermentation is complete.
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:06 PM   #6
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I understand and yes, we will have some fermented wort in a few carboys to top the barrel off as krausen recedes.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Any advice on stepping up mixed cultures of bugs?
My preference is to start a barrel with 5-10% of "established" sour beer. Something 6-12 months old that you know has a good blend of microbes (because you've tasted it). Growing up individual microbes works well, but I shy away from propagating mixed cultures because it is tricky to get the "right" conditions for each of the species without causing issues for another (e.g., Brett wants lots of oxygen, Pedio does not). I’d just pitch what you’ve got along with enough ale yeast to get things going. If you have good microbes in there they’ll be fine even at pretty low cell counts.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:08 PM   #8
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To help anyone who has a project like this in the future, through our research this is what we did. Results to follow in 12-36 months.

We brewed ~40 gallons of 1055 lambic recipe, mostly 2 row and pilsner, with 9% each raw wheat, and flaked wheat

Racked 5 gallons of a similarly basic lambic 4 months old with wyeast 3278 and the lees from a 12 month old Oud Bruin that had recently been bottled.


In a week or so we will brew another 10 gallons and put that in the barrel. Then in another week or so we are going to brew 10 more. We will top off the barrel, and put the remaining wort in a carboy with some of the bugs from the barrel to ferment, we will use that to top the barrel off as it evaporates over time.

We will also be adding dregs from a handful of commercial beers over the next few weeks for added character.


As far as barrel prep.

We rinsed thoroughly with hot water and then cold.

Placed the barrel, bung side down for ~2 weeks allowing to dry out a bit

burnt 1/3 to 1-2 a sulphur stick in the barrel and allowed to sit for a few days, bunged.

Rinsed the barrel on brew day, and filled to swell. No weeping. Drilled hole and installed "Vinny Nail". Fortunately Chad's metal lathing friend was bored on a Friday night and created some stainless nails for us.

Then proceeded with above.

We did not oxygenate. Any aeration was down through the bucket brigade from brew space to the newly named barrel room.
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:31 PM   #9
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Hey folks, I'm one of xpertskir's partners in the solera project. We finished filling the barrel today; everything has gone well so far. The barrel stills smells sweet, though we do still have some residual sulphur smell from burning it inside the barrel.

One question; how much wort will we need for topping off over the course of the first year? We brewed about 5 extra gallons; is that enough? Way too much?

OK, back to planing barrel project #2...
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:11 AM   #10
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Everyone mentions the threat of acetobacter and I am wondering how long a barrel can sit after being drained of wine. I can get a used barrel that was emptied a few months ago. Is that too old? Is there any way to tell besides sniffing it?
If it does smell of vinegar, is there any hope? Sulphur? Thanks


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