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06/29/10 01:49 AM  
So I have a barrel...
Bought a 60 gallon Pinot Noir barrel from an area winery and am planning on starting a solera with it.

Will the cake from a sour blonde I'm bottling be enough? Do I need to top it off between my yearly pulls from it? Does pulling off 10 gallons a year and replacing with fresh wort sound reasonable? Any other thoughts/advice?

Mike T
06/29/10 10:40 AM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
We started our ~60 gallon solera with a 5 gallon batch plus the yeast cake from another 5 gallon batch (both Al's most recent bugfarm). We pitched 30 gallons of wort in one weekend, and 25 the next (we then siphoned 5 gallons out to leave headspace for primary fermentation).

Taking out 10 gallons (and replacing that plus any headspace) should be fine, if on the low side. Taking 1/6 of the batch every year will eventually lead to a beer with an average age of 6 years (if you have to fill an additional 2.5 gallons to compensate for evaporation it will go towards a 5 year old blend). We havenít topped off any of our barrels mid-aging, and we have yet to have any acetobacter issues (try not to pull samples too often though).

We are planning to adjust our pull/additions based on how the flavor is. If it starts getting too sour we are planning on adding already fermented beer to reduce the amount the bugs get to eat. We are thinking 15 gallons a year plus evaporation at the start.

Here is a spreadsheet I did that calculates the average age of a single or multi-barrel solera: http://www.archive.org/details/SoleraAgingSpreadsheet

07/03/10 10:22 AM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
Thanks Mike

Hoping to get 30 gallons or so brewed this weekend.

James G
07/03/10 04:16 PM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
Have you thought about brewing a higher gravity beer and diluting it with water when you put it in fermenters (not sure if you are fermenting in the barrel)

Might cut down on the number of brew sessions you have to do to fill up the barrel

07/03/10 10:38 PM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
That's a really good idea, not sure how I didn't think of it!
07/18/11 11:40 AM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
Ok, I'm a little over a year in and am ready to pull my first 10 gallons out now. I have a question though, should I aerate the top-off wort before adding it to the barrel or is that just asking for a vinegar bomb?
07/18/11 06:20 PM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
I wouldn't add any additional air. You aren't really looking to increase yeast population. You should have plenty of microbes in the barrel to ferment a wee 10 gallons of wort. Any additional oxygen/aeration might stunt the growth of some of your microbes.
07/18/11 07:58 PM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
With a 60 gallon barrel I would try and take more like 20 to 30 gallons out per year. That 10 gallons will go fast!!!

I agree with no air. In fact I would purge everything with co2 really well to avoid ANY o2 pickup.


07/18/11 11:01 PM  
Re: So I have a barrel...
Thanks guys, that's kind of what I figured. Just got done cutting up the apricots for 5 gallons of it.

I'd do more than 10 gallons, but don't want to have to dedicate that much brewing time to topping it off. I have plenty of other sour beers fermenting in carboys.

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