|60 gallons of high gravity Baltic Porter
With over 8 months of aging on the Sour Seven it was more than time to get Shawn's other red wine barrel, which like it's sister is an old red wine barrel from from Hogshead Wine, into production. Somehow Shawn let me be the Project Manager on this one, probably in exchange for space in my garage to store the barrel. I mentioned in the Sour Barrel Ale Project post my thoughts on doing a big stout in the other barrel, while at the back of my mind I was thinking of a Baltic Porter.
For the last few months I've been part of a Monthly Share/Evaluation/Advice Meet-up group operating on the code name Tao of Fermentation. It's a loose group of brewers at various experience levels with the goal of seeking critical evaluation on our beer. It was also the perfect group to get together for a group brew to fill the other barrel.
|Good use of my time
Once it became clear Shawn was going to let me take the lead on this one I started steering the project starting at the October evaluation meet-up. Seeing as how the first barrel had gone straight to being a sour barrel I wanted to try and keep this one clean to began with. I figured as it developed in the barrel we would have plenty of time to steer it to sour if need be but a clean red wine aged dark beer sounded delicious.
It was also at that meeting that I suggested that we go with a Baltic Porter and asked Daniel if he could help develop the main base beer. To me Daniel had made some of the best Baltic Porters I'd ever had including one that was the base beer to Black Lingerie. The big problem I was going to run into was controlling the temperature as I planned on doing a group primary in the Beast again. I figured however that by December the crazy weather we'd been having would mellow out and winter would arrive. For the yeast we used some Saflager 34-70 surrey that Shawn had washed from a Bavarian Dunkle he made. In addition I asked everyone to bring a couple extra packs with them to pitch.
By mid November we were set on a December 9th brewday and by the time the day came the forecast looked perfect to do a monster lager. While we had discussed getting together for the brewing it wasn't feasible given the set up of everyone's brew system. So instead it was decided that people would drop off during the day.
|The next morning = more cleaning
It ended up being a pretty mellow brewday, as I didn't race to get up and get started. While my brewday was mellow it wasn't without it's challenges. My scale was broken which made measuring my bulk 2-row a bit challenging. While she wasn't overly pleased with it my wife allowed me to use her as the tare on our house scale to weigh out the grain (no I didn't get a picture as I value my life). I also had a nice little mess to clean up when the hose I was using to recirculate spilled out - it actually happened twice. In the end I had a measured gravity of 1.110, which is a new record. Overall the group averaged right around 1.095.
I correctly predicted that people would be dropping off most of the day so I didn't really need a set end time, in fact drop off started just after noon and went until 9ish that night. I spent most of the time doing odd brewing chores such as kegging up some Imperial Browns that I brewed back in October during a disastrous brewday - so disastrous that I doubt it will ever make it to a post. I also cleaned everything that needed cleaning including a bunch of the draft lines on the Indy Crate
The next day I came out to a massive fermentation from both fermentors. By the time I got home the blow-off was all over the garage requiring me to change the sanitizer and clean the garage. I tell you my garage has never smelled more like a brewery than it did that week. One step of caution I took was given the amount of fermentables I was using I knew there would be a massive amount of CO2 output, I therefore kept the garage partially cracked and the door open to create a draft. CO2 is very dangerous and heavier than air and I did not allow my dog or child in the garage unless it had been fully opened first.
Putting the "Yin" in the Barrel
Yin Part Three - Draining the Barrel