Barrel Aged Americanized Oud Bruin Recipe & Brewday Batch 6 - Brain Sparging on Brewing


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August 10, 2020

Barrel Aged Americanized Oud Bruin Recipe & Brewday Batch 6

Time for another batch of sour beer heading into the world's smallest sour beer barrel. The last batch was fermented directly in the barrel which was maybe a mistake given that when I opened the barrel to rack out the beer I found it about half empty. I let the barrel slumber for about fifteen months which resulted in a beer with more acetic character than I care for. For this batch I intend to attempt the same process of conducting primary fermentation in the barrel; however, I will top up the barrel after primary fermentation ends and age it for a shorter period of time to see if that eliminates the problems of the last batch. 

Barrel Batch 5 recap

For the last batch (Americanized Oud Bruin Batch 5) I steamed the inside of the barrel to kill off, or at least seriously restrain, the original occupants. My house sour culture used across the mid-2010s was delicious young but over time even in bottles the beers are turning too acetic for my preferences. The sour culture has Ale Apothecary dregs which those beers have an instantly recognizable flavor but can either be wonderfully structured with acidity or nightmares for your tooth enamel with seemingly not much in between. I replaced the culture with my old favorite Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend. Once upon a time this culture was hated for not producing the aggressive acidity of other blends but it seems to have found love among the changing attitudes towards more gentle acidity. For a barrel with a high risk of acetic acid production there couldn't be better occupants. 

To test the limits I let the prior batch slumber for over a year in the barrel. Curiously the barrel was almost half empty. While I was expecting some loss to evaporation and blow off from primary fermentation, I was not expecting that much loss. Batch 5 was more acetic than I had hoped but given the extreme headspace in the barrel I can't be surprised by what came out. It is not viciously acetic but there is definitely an acetic note to the beer. It isn't undrinkable and maybe even within the realm of the oud bruin style but I'd like to tamp that down. 

Process for Batch 6

For this batch I am going to try adding fermcap to reduce blowoff and see if that reduces the beer loss in the barrel from primary fermentation. With the drier climate here in Denver I may have a problem with evaporation I simply didn't have in Texas that I need to account for. Fifteen months may be too long in this barrel and the solution may be to return to a shorter stay in the barrel (perhaps half as much) and see if that cures the problem. Because there are two possible causes of the beer loss I need to explore them one at a time. After primary fermentation I will pull the airlock and see how much volume I have lost and top up if necessary. If primary fermentation is not the cause then I know I have a evaporation issue which will be tougher to remedy. 

So with that in mind this beer will continue with the same recipe as every prior batch of this Americanized oud bruin. For this batch I am going to avoid pitching more yeast and let the barrel inhabitants have their way with the wort. In my previous lambic solera project I alternated between adding fresh yeast which might be something I do here, too. I found the years without fresh pitches were generally less dynamic but I want to see if that holds true for a beer with specialty malts and barrel treatment. This recipe makes more wort than the barrel will fill so until I lock down the beer loss issue I will keep the excess wort frozen so I can keep it on hand to refill the barrel if necessary after primary fermentation. 

Americanized oud bruin recipe batch 6

Batch Size: 2.25 gallon
Est. ABV: 7.3%
Est. IBU: 24
Est. OG: 1.071
Est. FG: 1.015
Est. SRM: 25
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pilsner malt40266.80%
White wheat malt10216.70%
Vienna malt63.56.00%
Crystal 804804.20%
Chocolate malt2.63502.70%
Aromatic malt2262.20%
Black patent malt1.45001.50%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Brown Malty Profile
PH: 5.5
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Epsom Salt0.4g 0.3g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda0.4g
Calcium Chloride0.9g0.7g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 7.8 qt
Sparge volume: 1.5 gal
Infuse 7.8 quarts at 167F150F75
Sparge 1.5 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.25oz6024
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: 3278
Pitch: Barrel inhabitants
Pitch at 70F?Ambient
Bottle to 4 vol CO2 with 2 oz table sugar

Americanized oud bruin batch 6 brewday

Brewed 8.9.2020.

First runnings: 1.092
Preboil gravity: 1.081
Preboil volume: 2.5gal
Mash efficiency: 92%

(In my late night rush to bottle Batch 5 and barrel this wort I neglected to take postboil readings. Oops.) 

Brewday ran as expected. Wort looks good, the barrel is nice and full and ready to ferment. I filled it nearly to the bunghole and added four drops of fermcap. We'll see how fermentation goes and whether that is the cause of the substantial beer loss.

A week into fermentation there is beer and krausen flowing out of the blowoff tube. I've lost about eight ounces so far so it doesn't seem the fermcap did much to help but maybe it would have been much worse without it. Clearly I will need to top up the barrel in a couple weeks and revisit again in a couple months. 

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