Author Topic: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations  (Read 747 times)

Offline Carson B

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Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« on: June 17, 2020, 12:56:53 am »
I'm planning on brewing my first sour beer soon that will be aged in a 5-gallon ex-bourbon barrel that will be close to neutral once the beer goes in. The current plan is clean fermentation in stainless then secondary/sour fermentation in the barrel, as I really don't want to deal with mixing wild yeast and bacteria in my clean fermentation equipment. I'll be using the barrel as a souring vessel from then on.

I'm looking for general recommendations and tips for the wild yeast/bacteria combo that I'll pitch into the barrel. I've been looking at WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1, as I definitely want Brett but want that sourness from the Lacto and Pedio as well. Just a good, aged, sour farmhouse is the goal. Does anyone have experience with this mixed culture or general feedback on best practices when first inoculating a barrel for souring?

While I obviously want the first one to turn out well, I'm quite aware these kinds of beers can come with a steep and often unpredictable learning curve, so I'm more concerned about setting up the barrel for future microbial success than nailing a specific profile with this beer.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 01:01:38 am by Carson B »

Offline dannyjed

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2020, 01:39:11 pm »
There are many options. You could just add Brett to the barrel or you could add a mixed culture and just add more hops to your beer that will prevent many lacto strains from influencing the beer. I didn't like the one time I used WLP655 because it never got that sour even after 9 months. I like East Coast Yeast mixed strains and the Wyeast Lambic and Roselare strains.
Dan Chisholm

Offline Carson B

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2020, 02:17:18 pm »
Thanks for the response. My local store doesn't carry Wyeast, so I haven't been looking much at their options, but this is probably the 20th time I've a Roselare recommendation so I just might have to order some.

I'm planning on adding mixed culture to the barrel. With that said, and something your comment reminded me of, will the Lacto overpower the beer before the Brett has time to do its thing? I hadn't thought much about that or potentially inhibiting Lacto with hops.

Offline dannyjed

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2020, 03:00:54 pm »
Thanks for the response. My local store doesn't carry Wyeast, so I haven't been looking much at their options, but this is probably the 20th time I've a Roselare recommendation so I just might have to order some.

I'm planning on adding mixed culture to the barrel. With that said, and something your comment reminded me of, will the Lacto overpower the beer before the Brett has time to do its thing? I hadn't thought much about that or potentially inhibiting Lacto with hops.
In my experience, the lacto will not overpower the beer when added in a mixed culture. In fact, it can take a while to do much with all the other stuff in there. This is why many kettle sour first with lacto to drop the pH and then add yeast which saves time. These beers seem very one dimensional to me though, so I think your plan is fine if you have patience. You can also ferment the beer first with an ale strain, then add it to the barrel with a mixed culture and/or bottle dregs from some sour beers. This method has produced faster results for me for flavor development.


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Dan Chisholm

Offline Carson B

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2020, 03:47:08 pm »
Thanks for the response. My local store doesn't carry Wyeast, so I haven't been looking much at their options, but this is probably the 20th time I've a Roselare recommendation so I just might have to order some.

I'm planning on adding mixed culture to the barrel. With that said, and something your comment reminded me of, will the Lacto overpower the beer before the Brett has time to do its thing? I hadn't thought much about that or potentially inhibiting Lacto with hops.
In my experience, the lacto will not overpower the beer when added in a mixed culture. In fact, it can take a while to do much with all the other stuff in there. This is why many kettle sour first with lacto to drop the pH and then add yeast which saves time. These beers seem very one dimensional to me though, so I think your plan is fine if you have patience. You can also ferment the beer first with an ale strain, then add it to the barrel with a mixed culture and/or bottle dregs from some sour beers. This method has produced faster results for me for flavor development.


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Great. Yes, that's the plan: patience. I'll go normal, clean fermentation then transfer to barrel and pitch the bugs. Thanks for your feedback!

Offline Cliffs

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2020, 07:47:14 pm »
mainiacal yeast labs has amazing cultures. If you email them they will get back to you. Be advised a 5 gallon bourbon barrel will oxidize a beer pretty rapidly

Offline Carson B

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Re: Barrel-Aged Sour Culture Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2020, 07:54:55 pm »
mainiacal yeast labs has amazing cultures. If you email them they will get back to you. Be advised a 5 gallon bourbon barrel will oxidize a beer pretty rapidly

Thanks for the rec. I'll check them out for sure. And, yeah...I'm going to have to monitor it pretty closely. I've read up on some drawbacks to the five gallon size, but it's all I can handle at the moment.