Monday, January 14, 2013

Bourbon Barrel Fill #3

Saturday saw the latest iteration of my homebrewing club's, the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale (CAMRA), barrel project come to fruition.  This is the third recipe to go into the barrel, which has been marked mostly by unexpected surprises.  The first surprise was that the bourbon barrel, which came to us sealed and smelling strongly of bourbon, soured the first batch of beer we put into it.  The resulting beer, a bourbon-barrel porter, eventually settled out into a very tasty, if a bit strange, brew.  The souring of the barrel dropped the number of club members interested in the project dramatically.  At one point, I feared that the barrel would be turned into planters, but some heroic club members came through.  We filled the barrel with the second batch, a Flanders Red, in July.  Then came the next surprise, that the homebrewing store which held the barrel was expanding and needed the barrel's space.  The group quickly emptied the barrel, 6 months before we intended, and moved it to its new home, The Fermentation Trap.  That is quite a tumultuous first year for a storage device that is supposed to be forgotten for long periods of time.

The current group of five club members participating in the project decided to brew a beer like Russian River's Beatification, a sour Belgian pale ale.  The selection was inspired by the Mad Fermentationist blog, and excellent resource for sour and other interesting beer information.  Michael Tonsmeire, the author, put up a clone recipe for Beatification in 2009 and we decided to follow it, mostly.  Our barrel is obviously different than Michael's, given the different beers that have lived there, and we will not likely keep it in the barrel as long.  We are also debating what additional cultures or bottle dregs to put in the barrel at this time.  Current front runners are dregs from a bottle of Cantillon and/or a pitch of Bug Farm, from East Coast Yeast.

The barrel fill day went off fairly well.  Kenny, the owner of The Fermentation Trap, had filled the barrel with water to make sure it would not leak.  The full barrel partially cracked the dolly it was stored upon, for easy movement if necessary.  So, Kenny built a more stable structure from plywood and 2x4s, mounted on a new dolly.  With everything set up properly, we filled the barrel in about an hour.  It was a fun morning, full of camaraderie and off-color jokes.

Stay tuned to see where the barrel project heads next, though hopefully, it will remain undisturbed for a long time to come.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...