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Matt F
06/27/12 10:27 AM  
BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
I've acquired 55gal wine barrel which I'm using for a barrel fermented lambic using various BugFarms. Due to space limitations I'm forced to store the barrel in my garage in a Philly suburb. The temperature of the garage is slightly less volatile than outside. It can easily reach the 90s in the summer. I have a few questions regarding these conditions:

1) At 55gal will the temperature of the beer to change easily? I expect the large mass of liquid will maintain a more moderate temperature (post primary fermentation).

2) There's plenty of information that suggests it's best to brew lambic in the winter but if I'm not spontaneously fermenting (using BugFarm) then should I care? I'll openly ferment in the barrel but I expect the pellicle will keep out anything I don't want.

3) Does anyone have sensory experiences of warm fermented BugFarms versus cool that they can share?

Thanks in advance.

06/27/12 03:17 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
I would think your going to get a bunch of unwanted flavors fermenting on high temps like that and you would be at the mercy of the weather. When doing the intial ferment.

If you would wait until winter might be to cold?

Build a fermentation chamber around the barrel to try and keep a steady temp. PLay around with water mixture in the barrel to see how steady of temps you can keep and the swings it may have, akthough your at the mercy of the weather again.

Coolest I have let my bugs from Al get down to was around 45-50 in the winter time

Josh K
06/28/12 08:00 AM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
The mad fermentationist had a post where someone was fermenting a lambic in barrels in the garage. Though they did wait till it was cool to do primary fermentation.


06/28/12 10:10 AM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
another post from that


I am not sure if there garage is heated/cooled. Mike would be able to chime in on that

06/28/12 04:23 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
I would think that the Bugfarm would be fine at these higher temps although as posted above I DON'T think you want the primary fermentation to reach temps this high as off-flavors could result (ie fusels).

If you had to age the beer in a barrel and it experienced those temps for a short time then you would also be fine. I would not want to long term age at these temps though (think 3+ mos). If aging at these higher temps you probably would also see a swing in the culture population originally intended by Al.

You would probably be favoring more bacteria (lacto/pedio) and would get some extremely funky flavors from the brett as well.

Matt F
06/28/12 10:38 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
Thanks for the input everyone. I'm familiar with Mike's posts about the Pyles and their work brewing lambic. In fact it was Mike's site that finally pushed me over the edge to make this endeavor to brew full barrel lambic and I intend to follow the Pyles example and fill another barrel for the next few years.

I felt uneasy about primary fermentation in the warm weather and everyone's comments confirmed my reservations. It would have been nice to get started since I have an empty barrel but it's worth waiting a few months to ensure my lambic has the best chance at success.

Thanks again for the helpful responses and I'll post again when I taste the beer (~2yrs, gotta love this style).

Mike T
07/02/12 11:54 AM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
Dave's garage is connected to the house, but it not temperature controlled. Certainly gets pretty hot in Northern Virginia, probably gets up into the mid-to-high 80s in there during the peak of summer I would guess.

My basement was getting up over 80 F and I thought the beer in the two barrels was starting to turn slightly acetic, so last summer I installed a small A/C unit to keep the room at 65 F. Too much beer to risk it.

07/02/12 02:45 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
"The second you taste vinegar it needs to be dumped because itís not getting any better."
Mike T
07/02/12 03:50 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
Get better, probably not, but the first pull from the solera wine barrel took first in sours for us at the Pittsburgh NHC regional this year. With temperature control, a solid bung, and biannual top-offs we should be able to hold the acetic acid down to an acceptable level. Considering we are pulling about 1/3 of the batch each year, we could even conceivably lower the acetic acid content of the blend over time.
07/02/12 11:04 PM  
Re: BugFarm performance in volatile temperature
Sorry Mike, I was just messing with you. I'm sure your beer is fantastic.

The line about dumping beer was actually a quote from the recent interview with Lauren Salazar from New Belgium.

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