Well it was a long two days, but I filled up my first barrel with a Saison type of beer. My initial thought was to brew up two batches in one day, but I got started way later than I thought I would and by the time I got the beer in the barrel it was getting late, and dark. So I put the second batch off until the following day. This also gave the yeast “starter”, a 5 gallon batch of the same beer, an ample head start to building itself up. And boy did it ever. A nice kräusen formed up and fermentation was really going strong.

An hour or so after I put the second batch into the barrel, on top of the initial batch, I had to attach a blowoff tube. The silicone combination bung plug/airlock blew off a couple times. After the initial frenzy died down I reattached the silicone plug with the airlock portion engaged. This didn’t allow much escape, if any, of built up pressure. I had to continually check on the barrel and manually release the CO2 by pulling on the stopper. Not sure I’ll be trusting these things in the future. I attached an airlock instead, which is doing what it is supposed to.

The batches ended up being just over 30 gallons each, yet when I filled the barrel I had almost 5 gallons of headspace left. I might be off on my batch estimate, but I don’t think by that huge amount. Luckily I had that 5 gallon “starter” batch sitting around to fill in the gap. Some was lost after filling the barrel almost to the top, which was expected. I plan on filling the gap with Cabernet. I figure a bottle or two will suffice. Hopefully.

The hopes is getting more of that wine character into the beer that was already there from the previous barrel inhabitant. I’m hoping that 1.5L of wine won’t make too much of an impact on 60 gallons of beer. I’m sure the barrel itself will add more character than those two bottles will. I snuck a sample from the nail hole in the head and it’s heading down a road that should be decent. I’m throwing bugs in there as well, so it’s got a lot of work ahead of it.

Basic recipe was used. Threw in some Wyeast 3711, I have 3724 but that takes way too long. And the 3711 worked fairly quickly on the 5 gallon batch. Gave a nice earthy note to the beer. Not much spice, but it’s not done yet. I’ve heard that 3711 is a beast, but doesn’t give much phenolics or esters. I liked what I sampled, but bugs will be going in this batch so I don’t expect to get much residual character from the yeast.

Brew day number one was long, day two was quicker. Minus the cleaning up I had put off until this brew day. I do need to calibrate my refractometer and hydrometer though. Somehow they don’t jive well together – reading wise. Not much else to say about this batch until it gets closer to being finished. Hopefully that won’t be years from now. It certainly was different hoisting full bags to use for each batch. I went ahead and upped the amount of pilsen malt to 55 pounds per batch to not have any left over. Worked out well, but my efficiency was super-high for these two batches. I’m getting near 85% which I’ll need to try and keep consistent.

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Recipe with Derek’s neat plugin:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
31 gal 90 min 28.0 IBUs 2.5 SRM 1.055 1.009 6.1 %
Actuals 1.061 1.01 6.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 25 B 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.008 20 - 35 5 - 22 2.8 - 3.5 3.5 - 9.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen Malt 2-Row (Briess) 55.115 lbs 90.26
Wheat Malt, Ger 5.949 lbs 9.74

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Magnum 3.35 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 12
Palisade 2.47 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 7.5
Willamette 4.17 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 5.5
Styrian Golding (Savinja Golding) 2.08 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 5.3
Saaz 1.04 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 3.8

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric 30.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Chalk 7.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 6.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 5.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 3.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Baking Soda 3.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Pickling Lime 1.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
French Saison (3711) Wyeast Labs 80% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 150°F 75 min

Those misc additions are for my water profile:

Ca+2 Mg+2 Na+ Cl SO4-2 Alkalinity pH
26 13 5 4 6 126 (CaCO3) 8

I carbon filter all my water as the chlorine levels are very noticeable when sniffing or drinking.

Now on to the other barrel…