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Olli G
09/15/10 06:50 PM  
Lambic Barrel
Hey guys, I was pointed this way from another forum and told that you guys are kind of the experts on this stuff. Me and a friend are filling a 60 gallon barrel sometime soon and I still have a few questions

So far my plan is to do a turbid mash with the traditional grist:

60% Belgian Pils

40% Flaked unmalted Wheat

30 oz of Aged Hops

My current plan is to brew 50 gallons of this and let it ferment for a couple of days with a five gallon starter of

Wyeast Lambic Blend and

Wyeast Belgian Ardennes

After a couple of days of heavy fermentation, I plan one pack of:

Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis

Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii

Wyeast 5526 Brettanomyces Lambicus

Wyeast 5733 Pediococcus Cerevisiae

Additionally i will be adding the dregs of any lambics I can get my hands on whenever I drink one

Do you guys think think this will work or do you think i need to pitch more?

Is there anything else I should be aware of?

I have also heard that I could simply pitch 4 smack packs of wyeasts lambic mix. Is this possible or would I be serverely underpitching?

Thanks for your help

OlliG

brewinhard
09/15/10 07:32 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
Looks pretty sound, although you might want to consider adding the dregs of some sour beers of your choice for added complexity. I would think that 4 smack packs of WY lambic blend would by underpitching as they aren't always the strongest starters.
Olli G
09/15/10 07:47 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
Forgot to mention that I am adding dregs. Definitely planning on doing that. Now if only i could get my hands on bug farm #4

I am still undecided between my method as posted above or getting 10 smack packs of lambic blend (considering 4 is probably underpitching by too much)

tom sawyer
09/15/10 08:25 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
I think you'll have plenty of yeast/bugs with your plan. The Sacch yeast in the blend and the Belgian ardennes will attenuate to 75% and from there the Brett and bugs will take over. I pitch a WY lambic blend pack without a starter and it does a nice job on 5gal. Five gallons of beer "starter" ought to be plenty.

I have an 11gal barrel, I pitched some WLP530 and a WY lambic pouch and it took right off. Its gotten dregs periodically as well.

SteveG
09/15/10 09:47 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
As with anyone here, I'd defer to Al ... but my instinct would be to not add random bottle dregs. With 5 gallons I probably would, but investing 60 gallons I'd want my process to be more controlled. I'd add them to a smaller batch, a few gallons, and see what happens over time. If you like what its doing then top up the barrel. What if everything is going great then it takes a bad turn after you pour in an unknown element? Scale of 1 to 10, how aweful would you feel?
Patrick
09/16/10 07:45 AM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
SteveG, I agree, at the very least make a starter with the dregs before they are added and see if you like what the results are. It would suck to ruin 60gal.
tom sawyer
09/16/10 08:07 AM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
I don't think adding dregs from beers known to have culturable bugs is such a bad idea, especially once the Sacch yeasts from your initial pitch are already done. I'm not sure a starter culture grown for a week is going to tell you anything, but the beer the bugs produced (and you enjoyed) should. Plus, none of these beers have anything terribly different, just different strains of the critters we all know and love.

Control of wild fermentations, seems to be kind of an oxymoron.

SteveG
09/16/10 01:09 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
I can't imagine anyone here would think that testing them for a week would tell you anything. This is obviously a long term project, by "see what happens over time" I meant considerably more than a week!

Control of wild fermentations is totally an oxymoron. But whose doing wild fermentation? When you open wort to the night air, the ambient "free range" fermentors are what you will draw, you can't ever be certain what they are. That's wild. But as homebrewers we seldom do that (though I have), we tend to pitch. As this project is about pitching, it may be designed to emmulate a wildly fermented brew, but by definition it is a controlled fermentation. IMO, pitching is controlled, open is wild and adding unknown elements is careless. At least it is when you do it to 60 gallons. 5 gallons is worth the experiment.

So you drank and liked a bottle of beer. How old was it? When a beer with long-term fermentors has something going on in the bottle it may be great in 2010, but by 2012 something else may be pushing its flavor profile into the not-so-great. Add the dregs in 2010, you might be finding out the hard way in 2012 that your promising tasting 60 gallon batch has gone in a regretable direction.

tom sawyer
09/16/10 03:58 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
Let me rephrase. When you pitch a blend of organisms like whats in a WY Lambic Blend or the dregs of a bottle of kriek, its going to be less predictable than pitching a single yeast strain. Its the nature of the beast, once you have several variables (types and quantities of bugs, characteristics of wort, ferm temp), you don't expect or get a consistent outcome. But they're most always interesting outcomes, and what makes them interesting isn't the control its the complexity.

Are the ratios of the various species that terribly important in the long run?

SteveG
09/17/10 11:27 AM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
At the risk of speaking for Al, I'll say this. I once brewed with WYRoselare blend then passed it off to Al. He worked it up and, as I recall, described his effort as "rebalancing" the blend. Sounds very much to me like he adjusted the levels of the various components. I brewed with it a couple more times and basically got La Folie. The first beer I brewed with the blend tasted like a somewhat dirty abbey single. Different recipe as the latter beers of course, but the impact of the fermenters was clear.

I would imagine in the long run that the levels will get to where nature would have them go. I would think that its what they do along the way that really counts. So, from what I have seen I would have to conclude that the ratios are at least terribly important going in.

Its also worth sharing that I had a Rodenbach Vin de Cereale some time after its release. It was the first sample of this I could remember (actually had one before a little too late at night!), the folks around me commented that they had not noticed the pronounced vinegary character before. So it would appear that this had developed over time. There had to have been slowly developing acetobactor in there that in earlier samples it had not expressed itself. So, had those dregs been added to a home brew, acetobactor that had not yet revealed itself in flavor profile would have been unknowingly added. If you are not into that it would be a heart breaker with a couple year old 5 gallon batch. In 60 gallons you might consider drowning yourself in the barrel.

tom sawyer
09/17/10 12:16 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
I'd suppose acetobacter might be present in a lot of the Belgian beers, and its kept in check by low O2. Could be that bottle had a bit of a leaky cork. Some of the cork I've seen used on some darned nice bottles of beer, were an amazingly poor grade.

I admit to taking a rather one-sided stance for purposes of generating discussion. Actually I do think there's an effect of the amounts of the various bugs in the starting pitch. I don't know that its easy to control, short of doing what Al does which I assume is to sort them out and grow them separately, then reblend to certain cell counts. Even growing a starter has to affect these ratios in ways that may not be predictable. We know people have different results from repitching sour blends, some finding increased sourness and others seeing the sourness get less. I get the impression that a lot of these beers aren't lambics that spend two years maturing.

My little 11gal barrel is enough of a roll of the dice for me. I have added dregs because I want to seed it with the full range of wild yeast and bacteria. I anticipate adding conventionally fermented beer to it in the future and letting it gain its funk from the bugs living in the wood, which I suppose is going to start out slow since there's not a huge population compared to a packet of WY or some bottle dregs.

Thanks for the lively debate! Hopefully it will continue.

SteveG
09/17/10 12:31 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
You bet Tom.

I will say that outside a bail out from Al I would have no idea how to get a handle on the levels of each component of a bug blend. I know they tend to have documented growth times and optimum conditions, so once they are in, growth could probably be predictable. I bet with some good data (like knowledge of how they individually react to Ph for example) and a lot of diligence (like evaluating samples for stuff like Ph) you could keep reasonable tabs on what's going on. Personally, I've never done that, pretty sure I never will!

But how that is effected by pitching levels is something I would not even guess at. I've been spoiled. Al just gives me stuff that works perfect out of the gate!

Jim L
07/06/11 02:01 PM  
Re: Lambic Barrel
Hey Olli G,

I'm getting ready to do something similiar with a lambic in a 60g port barrel. Which path did you go and how are your results leaning so far?

 
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