Wild Ferment Updates
I tasted my aging beers lately, and noticed some things that may be of interest to various folks. (And by the way I for one am always interested to hear how people's brett/pedio/etc ferments are progressing.)
#1 -- WY b. lambicus expt: I mentioned I once did a tiny batch of all-WY-lambicus, and that it was mousy and not good after 3-4 months in the bottle. I just found some bottles in a closet that had been kept at 70F for like 9 months. Good news: the mouse taint thing seems to age out eventually. The beers have a nice flavor and a somewhat Orval-like finish, but less medicinal/smoky than Orval can get. No excessive carbonation, despite these being bottled after like 2-3 weeks in primary.
#2 -- Roeselare-based Flanders Red: First batch in new 5G oak barrel. I was worried this would be unbearably oaky, but our pretreatment of the barrel (two soakings with metabisulfite + citric acid solution, each about a month long) seems stripped out a fair bit of the oak. (But it's still quite oaky of course). Anyway it's 3 months old but has a good pellicle despite the barrel being fully sealed with a rubber bung. Not as much "wild" character as we'd like yet, unsurprisingly at this stage.
#3 -- Old Ale with b. claussenii: Another first batch in a new 5G barrel. Very oaky but still we're pleased it's not worse. Very interesting thing: the primary was done with 3 packs of Nottingham which should have been a more than sufficient pitch rate. Unfortunately I think maybe Nottingham doesn't rehydrate well in 1.068 wort at the temp we did it, cause fermentation was kind of weak and the beer was extremely solventy. We put it in the barrel anyway with a full tube of WLP claussenii, and 6 weeks later the solventiness (which I think came from excess ethyl acetate) is gone! Tastes like a mix of cider and white wine, plus caramel and maltiness from the grains. Still plan to age it a while of course.
We know conventional wisdom is not to taste these things so early/often, but given these are our first batches in these barrels we wanted to keep an eye on the oakiness.