This post provides an update on the 2010 sour wine barrel project initially described here:

http://aabg.org/2010/04/26/aabg-sour-wine-barrel-initial-fill/

On 8/21 a group of AABG brewers emptied the saison from the barrel, distributing to the ten brewers who had originally contributed. Final gravity was measured at 1.007, and tasting showed a fairly tart and dry beverage with plenty of complexity including oak, floral, and sweaty characters– a nice example of a barrel-aged beer.

The barrel was rinsed with boiled water a few times to remove sediment, and then refilled with Flanders Red Grand Cru brewed according to the recipe below developed by Jeff Rankert:

42% Pale malt (2-row) 2L
25% Vienna malt 3L
17% Flaked maize
4% Aromatic malt 25L
4% Caramunich 60L
4% Wheat malt
4% Special B 120L

14 IBU Kent Goldings at 60 min
OG ~1.065
Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic Blend

Twelve 5-gallon batches were brought to my place (Aron Butler) after varying amounts of time in the secondary fermenter, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. Each beer was tasted, notes made, and then run into the barrel. Linked here is a PDF showing the names of the participants, gravities of the batches if available, and some tasting notes for each.

PDF of spreadsheet

Gravity measured after all beers were added was approximately 1.018. Airlock activity was fairly vigorous for the first couple of weeks, and has now (9/22) subsided into a rhythm of a bubble every few minutes. Aging period for this beer is tentatively a year before any significant withdrawals will be made.

Categories: News

Aron Butler

AABG member since ca. 2004.

3 Comments

Aron Butler · November 9, 2010 at 12:32 am

Tim Wheeler and his wife Marie stopped by on Sunday with a carboy of beer to add to the barrel. When we pulled off the stopper, the surface of the beer was open (no pellicle, krausen, etc.), and the level appeared to be just about where we had left it after filling.

To our surprise, it only took about 3 gallons to bring the level up to within about 1/2″ of the bung, which seemed full enough.

The airlock has continued to bubble regularly since the original filling.

Aron Butler · November 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm

After being asked about it by a few folks at the meeting Friday, I pulled a sample tonight. Gravity read 1.012, down 6 points from fill. Flavor and aroma are dominated by malt sweetness and fruitiness (like red berries), mingled with notes of barrel character (oak, horse) and some light phenolics. Interestingly, there were hints of acid in the nose but very little actual tartness in the flavor or finish– actually seems less tart than some we tasted going in. Perhaps those bugs are still getting to know the neighborhood.

Airlock activity continues undaunted, slow but steady, bubbling once every minute or two. Current ambient temp is about 66F, with RH the past few weeks around 50%. As a minor correction to my fill level above, tonight it was closer to 1″ below the inside of the bung; I’m guessing my previously reported observation was a bit off.

Aron Butler · January 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Here is a copy of a barrel status update I just posted on the forum.

I pulled a 22-oz sample for the January meeting a couple of weeks ago. Gravity was around 1.012, and airlock activity has been nil in the last several weeks– not surprising considering this gravity is the same as I noted in November.

Tasting notes were similar to before as well, with some barrel character slowly developing, to my palate mostly in the direction of floral, fruit, sweat, chocolate/cherry, but with minimal sourness. Several folks who tasted it at the meeting were surprised by the lack of tartness.

Ambient temp has been about 65F in the vicinity of the barrel, with RH in the 30-50% range. Beer level has dropped a bit since last check, maybe an additional inch or so, for a liquid level 2-3″ below the bunghole. Based on experience with Tim Wheeler’s addition, I’d say it would take another 1-2 gallons to top it up at this point.

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