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12/17/07 10:02 AM  
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.

12/17/07 10:36 AM  
Re: Wild Ferment Updates
It might be a bit early for this kind of observation, but do you have any way of assessing how oxygenation is affecting the beers? Just as smaller barrels impart more oak more quickly because of the surface area/volume ratio, they also oxygenate more quickly, don't they? Are your bug fermentations going any differently in barrel than in glass?

12/17/07 03:13 PM  
Re: Wild Ferment Updates
Don't have any in glass right now, but I personally think the big barrel vs. small barrel question is overblown. I saw someone calculated numbers for surface area vs. volume and it was something like a factor of 2 for a 50G wine barrel vs. a 6-gallon barrel, which seems to me like not a big deal. Anyway, I haven't noticed any acetic character or oxidation in either barrel just yet.
12/18/07 06:43 AM  
Re: Wild Ferment Updates

My 100% B. lambicus Olde Ale went form 1080 to 1022 in about a months time. I fermented cool (low 60's to high 50's). So far, it tastes great. Leathery, a little cherry but its subtle. Not too acidic.

I also have a pale ale to which I added raspberries in secondary and then infected with B. clausseni. That beer was nasty for a long time and suddenly dried out, became slightly tart with a hint of raspberry. It went form 1.056 to 1.009 in about three moths (same temps as above).

12/19/07 09:59 AM  
Re: Wild Ferment Updates
Thanks Ryan. I really like that leather/cherry thing that comes from the WY lambicus. (I assume yours was the Wyeast strain?)
12/19/07 12:04 PM  
Re: Wild Ferment Updates
Yep WYeast.

going into bottles in a week or so.

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