The AABG purchased a used barrel from 2 Lads Winery of Traverse City, where it had previously held Cabernet Franc.  The barrel itself is the Bordeaux Export model made by Radoux Cooperage (French oak, M+ toast, 2007). 

It was delivered to Aron Butler’s house in Pittsfield Twp on April 18, 2010.  The basement there will be its home for the course of this experiment, which is expected to involve a few months of aging a Saison followed by transition to a Flanders Red style ale for the longer term.  Mark Zadvinskis is coordinating participants and recipes for the project, so those interested in schedule and participation should contact him.

Crispy, Alex, Justin, and Aron were present on April 19 for the initial setup and filling with Saison to approximately halfway.  Subsequent visits from others had it full by mid-week.  Ten brewers in all contributed beer to this initial phase:

Alex & Claudia Pettit
Aron Butler
Chris Frey
Jim Dusseau
Justin Scanlon
Randy deBeauclair
Mark Zadvinskis
Mike O’Brien
Chuck Warpehoski
Phil Wilcox

The recipe provided to the brewers is listed below (adjusted for 5 gals).  Specs are 1.052 OG and 24 IBUs.  Some hop substitutions took place, but all brewers were able to find the classic Saison yeast strain (I think… please comment if otherwise). 

8 lbs Pilsner malt
1 lb wheat malt
0.5 lb Munich malt
18 IBU EK Goldings (60 mins)
0.5 oz Styrian Goldings (15 mins)
0.5 oz Styrian Goldings (1 min)
0.5 oz Czech Saaz (1 min)
0.5 oz EK Goldings (1 min)
WLP-565 Saison Yeast

A measure of gravity thiefed from the barrel immediately after filling read 1.018.  As of this writing (a few days later), the airlock is showing near continuous activity, so it looks like we are getting some additional attenuation already.

Some photos of the fill event are located in the AABG galleries here:

Details on the beer in the barrel are here:

Excel spreadsheet
PDF of spreadsheet

Stay tuned for replies and posts with updates.

Categories: News

Aron Butler

AABG member since ca. 2004.


Aron Butler · August 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Though I have posted a couple of updates on the barrel beer to the forum, I’ll reproduce them here for recordkeeping’s sake:

On 5/13/10:

I thiefed out about a pint to bring to this week’s AABG meeting. I measured the gravity to be about 1.012, suggesting the beer dropped 6 points since filling about 3 weeks before. Since then, airlock activity has slowed considerably. Beer level had not changed in any noticeable way before I removed the sample (still a couple inches below the bung). There was a not-quite-solid skin of what looked like brown yeast globules over the visible surface below the bung. No leaks, wetness, or other changes in the barrel have been observed.

To my palate, the tasting impression was dryer and lighter in body than the beers as I recall them going in (consistent with the attenuation). It also seemed cleaner and smoother, with less of the solventy, yeasty, and spicy characters than previously.

Based on a few periodic checks, the temperature near the barrel remains at 63-65F and RH at 55-65%.

On 8/12/10:

I pulled a sample over the weekend to fill a bottle for the meeting this Friday. Gravity is reading about 1.009, so it’s continued to dry out slowly, also evidenced by occasional activity in the airlock. I tasted a small sample, and found it to be reminiscent of Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam–- light in body, some malty and spicy saison character, along with some mild tartness, oaky and sweaty notes. A very nice beverage, in my opinion.

The appearance and level of the beer seems unchanged from my notes from May. Temp and RH have been around 70 degrees and 70% for the past several weeks.

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