A club that I am a member of has been using a standard American Burboun barrel for a couple of years to age beers in, and we now make an annual 53 gallon Flanders Red. We utilize the Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic Blend. It contains Belgian-style wheat beer yeast, sherry yeast, two Brettanomyces strains and lactic acid bacteria. David Logsdon suggested that since we will not be able to tear the barrel apart and clean it every few years that this would be a better blend to use.
It is time for the 9 brewers involved to make a new batch, age it for two months, then do the transfer.
One member has elected to use a neutral yeat (WLP001) for various reasons. He believes it should be fine because the beer will sit on the bugs and yeast for a year and pick up all the flavors.
I am concerned that the American yeast is a very attenuative and neutral yeast, and by the time the beer gets to the barrel, the sugars available to a yeast will be eaten, and the neutral character of the WLP001 will prevail. While there will be an opportunity for the Brett strains to impart their particular characteristics to the beer, the Belgian strains will be absent. It is the first two yeasts (wheat and sherry) that will likely not provide any contribution to the barrel.
Now, a couple of other members of this group have chimed in and suggested that the ultimate blending of everyone's contribution is likely to dissipate any loss of character. I can't say with any certainty that I can refute this. I just have a concern that it potentially can have a dilutative effect.
What do others think? The beer was brewed mid-late October, and my offer of a slurry of the WYeast blend may be moot at this point, but I am looking for feedback as to whether I should relax and not worry, or break into said brewers basement and innoculate his batch