Barrel Aged American Oud Bruin Batch 5 Recipe - Brain Sparging on Brewing

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June 13, 2019

Barrel Aged American Oud Bruin Batch 5 Recipe

I haven't been overly happy with the results of this project's earlier batches due to a strong acetic acid character. The causes of this issue are obvious: (1) using a small barrel for aging; and (2) using a sour culture that easily pumps out too much acetic acid in the presence of even a small amount of oxygen. Batch 4 was my best attempt at minimizing oxygen along the way but as I discussed in more detail on that batch's post, I just didn't feel like the beer produced met the vision for what it should be. I'm not quite ready to give up on the barrel as a fermenter so I am going to change my approach to brewing this barrel aged sour beer.

For batch five I am making the following changes:
  • The beer will primary ferment in the barrel and remain there until bottling to avoid racking as an opportunity to introduce more oxygen in the barrel;
  • The barrel will be steam cleaned to minimize the existing cultures; and
  • WY3278 will be introduced as a fermentation force. 
Otherwise the recipe will remain the same. Currently I am turning out a new batch every four to five months but I may elect to let this one go six or seven months before bottling if it seems to hold up against the small barrel. As the recipe is staying the same I'll just link to it here and move on talking about steaming the barrel and brewing this beer. 

Steaming a small barrel

Steaming a barrel is a good way to use wet heat to infiltrate wood and kill off microorganisms living in the wood. It's more effective than simply filling a barrel with a sanitizing liquid because the heat can penetrate into the wood in the way a sanitizer won't, at least in the same length of time. I want to make this barrel as clean of a slate as I can (without introducing sulfur) so thoroughly rinsing and then steaming the barrel is the best option available.

There are a lot of challenges to working with small barrels because there is not a lot of equipment otherwise used with barrel fermentation and aging designed for this stage. Somebody on the endlessly helpful Milk the Funk facebook group at some point suggested converting a Presto pressure cooker and tubing into a makeshift steamer. It is a brilliantly simple solution especially if you already have access to a Presto pressure cooker. The idea here is simple. The pressure cooker acts as a vessel for creating steam and the post that would hold the weighted bell to create pressure acts as a single exit for the steam which can then direct the steam through tubing to barrel. (An important point here is to use chlorine/chloramine-free water here to avoid introducing those compounds into the wood.)



After giving the barrel a good rinse I set up the makeshift steamer and set to steaming the barrel. I covered the bunghole with a towel to help retain heat and steam but not create a hard seal that would build pressure. After half an hour I slid a thermometer into the barrel and the air read 170F. The outside of the barrel was warm to hot so I felt I had good heat penetration. I let the barrel cool while the wort boiled and chilled and flipped it over to drain out the condensed water.

A very simple process and solution here. I am not 100% confident the barrel is completely devoid of microorganisms but if I knocked back most of the population then it should make way for the WY3278 blend to at least compete. 

Barrel aged American Oud Bruin Brewday

I brewed the fifth batch of the oud bruin recipe from this post on 3.30.19.

Postboil volume: 2.25 gal
Postboil volume: 1.070
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%

After the wort cooled I funneled it into the barrel and set up a blowoff tube. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a huge mess. Pitched 2/3 of a pouch of Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend.



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