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Continual Flanders Red Fermentation

Brewing my first Flanders Red Ale (JZ recipe, 5 gallon) on WLP 665 Flemish Ale Blend. Because I’m fermenting in a bucket with a spigot, it’s easy for me to take small samples from time to time. Any input on trying the following:

  1. Ferment out the current batch until it gets to a level of sourness I want.

  2. Pull off half, keg in 2.5 gallon keg.

  3. Brew up new 2.5 gallon batch, ferment for a week or so on some neutral ale yeast.

  4. Carefully add new beer to remaining half of original batch.

  5. Allow bugs to continue until it reaches a level of sourness I want.

Lather, rinse, repeat. If this works, I’d have a new 2.5 gallon batch of Flanders Red coming on line every 3-9 months.


This is called a “solera” and with a bottling bucket you’re making it similar to doing it in kegs (which is how I run mine). One caveat - bottling bucket spigots are notorious for harboring nasties so you should remove the spigot and thoroughly clean and sanitize it before you start this process, then when you’ve taken a sample or pulled half the volume be sure to spray the inside of the spigot with sanitizer and rinse out any residual beer.

Shade can you explain your process with doing this in a keg(s)? I want to do a flanders red in the next few months and would certainly like to have a new one coming online every 9-12 months.

to the OP, do you have an active/intact pellicle when you are taking samples out of the ale pail, or has it subsided?

Ferment beer, transfer to keg, pitch bugs, let sit for 9-12 months. Every now and then pull the pressure release to vent the CO2. Around the one year mark, brew and ferment a second batch and when it’s done, pull a gallon or so out of the first keg, top off with the fresh beer, then pitch the gallon of older beer to the new batch. You can play with using some of the fresh beer to backsweeten some portion of the older beer in a third keg and carbonate and consume at that point, or age a little then consume, or any other combination of blending that you like. After the second year, make a third batch and your blending options really open up with three generations to play around with.

Way too early yet. I brewed on Wednesday, pitched one (at expiration) vial of WLP665, and put the bucket in the wine fridge with the controller set to 69 F. I just started to get airlock activity a couple of days ago. I normally brew in Better Bottles, but this is my old bottling bucket, since retired for use with sour beers–WLP670 American Farmhouse Ale so far.

When using WLP670, I would start in the bucket, then rack to a 5-gallon Poland Spring type bottle, also used just for my sour beers, once the activity slowed. I haven’t gotten a pellicle using this yeast in this manner.

I’m debating keeping it in the bucket (ease of sampling, higher oxygen transfer) vs. racking to the water bottle (ability to see what is going on without disturbing the contents). I’m hadn’t thought of using kegs, but that might be a good solution.

[quote=“John Henderson”]When using WLP670, I would start in the bucket, then rack to a 5-gallon Poland Spring type bottle, also used just for my sour beers, once the activity slowed.[/quote]Flip that water bottle over and check the plastic number on the bottom - if it’s a “1” then it’s safe to use for beer but if it’s a “7” I wouldn’t use it for brewing since you don’t know if it’s OK with alcohol and low pH beer.

I have two, both are “1”. I checked before bringing them home. The built-in handle makes them easy to move, but they hold just 5 gallons so I don’t use them for primary.

I’m going to toss in a French oak spiral at some point as well. Bugs should stick to it as well. I wonder if that would be enough to start souring a new batch if I toss it into fresh beer?

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