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Sour Barrel Solera Update

I started this project four years ago. I emptied an 11gal Hungarian oak barrel of Zinfandel wine And I started a sour beer in it. I pulled a few gal 9 months later, then another pull after another 6 months. Then I waited nearly a year for pull 3. After that time slipped by and before I knew it was 2 years since that pull. I still had some of pull 3 in a keg so I topped it up with pull 4. I also pulled a few gal into a carboy for bottling. Then I added 6 gal of new beer made for this purpose. I made a brown ale with a generous amount of Special B, choice debit termed hops and fermented with Bedford ale yeast. I also added 2L of unfermented wort as an experiment to “feed the bugs” a little extra.

The beer I pulled is still very tasty, super sour and with a very cherry flavor, not acetic. Since its doing well I will continue on with the project.

Is each addition a different recipe? Did you add cherries, or just bacterial?

Regardless, sounds like a great experiment.

Yes with each addition I steer the beer in a slightly different direction, although the basic style remains Flanders red. No cherries, one of the Brett strains produces the pie cherry character.

What yeast/bacteria did you use? Do you ferment the beer differently before putting it into the barrel?

I find that the Wyeast Roselare blend really produces excellent beer when fermented in a barrel.

I believe the first beer was fermented with wyeast lambic blend. I’ve also added dregs of a few different sours over the first year or so. Now I just ferment the new beer with a regular yeast before adding to the barrel.

I went down last night and pulled the top on the pressure relief stopper and yeasty muck shot out. I guess I shouldn’t have added the unfermented wort, the barrel is a little too full. Oh well, wasn’t a big mess and this morning there wasnt much pressure when I pulled it.

Interesting. I keep an airlock on all my barrels. They haven’t bubbled in months, maybe a solid bung is a better idea for me. If adding fresh wort or non-sour beer, I’d make sure they are able to vent.

I am using a silicone bung with another smaller bung in it that will release pressure if it builds much. Its sold as an airlick for a barrel. When theres no activity uiu just shove the smaller stopper in all the way, it seems to seal well.

I use a solid bung on all my wine barrels. They actually pull a little vacuum this way, as the angels share evaporates through the wood.

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