Golden Sour Solera

>> Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Today I'm brewing a repeat of sorts for another sour barrel project. This beer will be going into a 30 gallon barrel where it will age on Bootleg Biology MTF Funk Island Mega Blend. The grain bill is basically the same one used for our club barrel project, Big Bad Barrel #3. Big Bad Barrel #3 was a little boring on its own, kind of a blank slate, but it ended up being amazing with fruit, dry hops, etc.

This is another collaboration brew with friends, this time with Brandon, Chaz, Devin, Jeff, and Nate. We're planning on doing this beer solera style, so we'll let it age for a while then pull off 10 gallons and replace with 10 gallons of fresh beer. This process will be repeated about once a year or whenever the beer it's ready. The following recipe is scaled for 10 gallons. 

10.5# Great Western Pure Idaho Pilsner Malt
2.6# Spelt Malt
56g Aged Hops (60 min)
Yeast Nutrient
Blend of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison and White Labs WLP013 London Ale Yeast

Mash at 160F. Collect  ~9.0 gallons, then top up to ~11.75 gallons. 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Water Profile
I don't get too fancy with my sour beer water profiles. We have fairly hard water here, so if I'm not completely building water from scratch, I usually at least dilute tap water with RO water for light colored beers. This time I went with a 50/50 blend of carbon filtered tap water and RO water.

Brewing Notes
I started fairly early today at about 6:45am. No issues during the brew session. Target on this batch is 1.040. The last time I brewed it, it came out at 1.041. This time I'm pretty much at 1.040 (10.2 Brix). 

I'm doing primary in a Sankey keg with the spear removed. Usually I split 10 gallon batches between two fermenters, but I figured I might as well ferment in one vessel. 

Details for Barrel #03
I've been collecting more barrels, so I've started numbering them. This one is #03 and is a 30 gallon whiskey barrel originally from Sugarhouse Distillery. The 2nd fill was a stout at Kiitos Brewing. I then got my hands on it...where it sat in my basement long enough to completely dry out. Ideally, you never want this to happen as it's possible you may never get the barrel to seal back up.
To rehab the barrel, I ran it through a steam session with my homemade barrel steamer. Next, I tightened up the hoops a bit. This was followed by a session using the French Method for rehydration, then more steaming sessions, and finally a fill with holding solution. 
The purpose of all these steps was two-fold. First, to rehydrate the barrel so that it was watertight. Second, to neutralize the barrel because we're not really looking for a ton of spirit or oak character. The last step to get this barrel ready to age our beer was the top half of the barrel was waxed as were the heads. Spirit barrels have thinner staves compared to wine barrels, so the wax is an attempt to reduce oxygen permeability and therefore oxygen transfer during the aging period.
Update 2/11/2020
I didn't use my Tilt with this batch, so I don't know exactly where things are at fermentation-wise, but it was showing signs of fermentation yesterday morning with a bubble about once per 2 seconds. There's about 5 gallons of headspace, so I'm not too concerned about needing a blowoff. The fermenter is in my utility room, which is probably about 67-68F this time of year.

Update 3/7/2020
We brewed the last 10 gallons for the barrel today. No issues with the brew session.

3/7/20 Gravity Readings