|Transferring the beer to the barrel|
Two weeks after the initial brewday for the Sour Barrel Ale Project, I headed back over to Shawn's house to help him transfer 65 plus gallons of beer into the used wine barrel. 50 gallons came from the beast of a fermenter we had built out of a water drum. The other 15 had been fermented in 3 5 gallon buckets to allow us to top off the 65 gallon wine barrel. After brewday the project became known as the Sour Seven as it took seven of us to brew it up.
A few details on the barrel that I didn't originally cover. Shawn got it (and its sister) from Hogshead Wine. It's a pretty old barrel and has seen a lot of use with primarily red wines. To clean and seal Shawn filled it up with sanitizer and kept it filled to keep it sealed.
To fill the barrel we re-plumbed Shawn's pump attaching one end with a racking cane. We started by filling the barrel with the 15 side gallons and about 3 odd gallons of a Brettanomyces (bruxellensis and claussenii) starter Shawn had been working on since brew day. Once everything was emptied we popped the top of the beast and started transferring it. In total it took us over 45 minutes to fill the barrel. Not wanting to fill the barrel completely to the top we were left with around 7 gallons of yeast and trub of which we collected 2 gallons into 2 sanitized gallon jugs. Collecting the slurry took some thinking but in the end we scoop it out with a sanitized cereal container.
The gravity for the 50 gallon batch ended up around 1.013 with the gravity of the 15 gallons and brett starter being high enough to bring the total up to 1.017 when we pulled a sample from the filled barrel. In addition to the brett starter Shawn also put together a sour starter that he'll let sour for the next couple of months before using it to top off the barrel.