« on: July 31, 2013, 07:54:31 AM »
I agree with others that souring the batches before blending is a good idea. You may want to do that with Wyeast's 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend. You might also want to check out the solera method of blending. I started a solera in February of this year (2013) with a 5-gallon batch intended to be a Flanders Red when finished. The plan is to use the solera method to blend future batches with this initial batch to develop complexity in a "house" Flanders Red.
A solera is just a series of vessels used for blending. The method is to add "new" beer to the first vessel in the series and draw finished beer from the last vessel. With each round of adding new beer and drawing finished beer, beer is racked down the line of vessels (1 -> 2 -> 3 ->...N) and a portion of beer (10-30%) is left behind in each vessel to be blended with the beer coming from the previous vessel in the series. Depending on the number of vessels in the series, it can take several years for beer to make it to the finished blend. Beer from the last solera vessel is often blended with a portion of new beer to get the desired flavor profile.
Interesting things like oaking or spicing can be done in different stages of a solera, too. My solera is a series of glass carboys (just two at the moment). I have a small amount of oak chips in my second vessel that I intend to leave in there forever as a site for a bacteria culture to live on - sort of like emulating the way bugs live in the pores of an oak cask. I'll probably do the same when I add a third vessel later this year.
You'd think that a solera could be tucked away in a corner and forgotten - but I check mine every week to top-off the airlocks so they don't run dry. Each carboy is capped with a drilled natural cork and a 3-piece airlock. I'm using the natural cork to try to emulate the slight amount of oxygen permeation that occurs in large wooden casks. That little bit of oxygen is needed if you want the acetobacter to develop some vinegar character. All of the solera carboys sit on a shelf in my basement at ambient temperature (65-75 F) and are each covered with a cardboard box to keep them in the dark.
I can't tell you much about how this beer will finish as I haven't drawn any finished beer from my solera yet, and probably won't draw more than 2.5 gallons later this year. Recent samples from the second vessel are showing some pleasant souring and a mild aceto character, though. One of the members of our club runs a solera similar to what I've described. He's been running it almost four years now and has won several medals with his Flanders Red.