Wednesday, July 14, 2010

65 Gal Lambic

I guess it was just over a year ago now, that my brew friends Al, Stefen and myself decided we would try our hand at brewing a traditional styled pLambic (while I respect the history, I will be referring to the brew as lambic here out). Independently we had each brewed a sour beer at one time or another, with average results, but our respect and enjoyment of the lambic beer drew us to an epic brewday. We decided to try to brew this as close to the Belgian method as possible, with the only exception of spontaneous fermentation.

First, we wanted to secure a barrel. After trying to chase down some internet leads, I decided to call some of my local wineries. I think I only made 2 calls before speaking with the cellarmaster at Chadds Ford Winery, and we managed to work out a deal on a 65G French Oak barrel. Since this is a fully operational winery, the barrel was recently retired after about 6 batches, and had remained swelled, and recently had a sulfur stick burned in it to prevent organism growth. I picked up the barrel and we really began to move forward with plans for the brew formulation, method approach, and sourcing ingredients.

For the recipe, I deferred to the single best source I have acquired on brewing lambic beer, Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow. We went with the traditional 70/30 pilsner to wheat grist. We chose unmalted wheat since we were ambitious enough to tackle a turbid mash for this monster brew. Since I had previously brewed a starter batch with unmalted wheat, and had milled it at home, I pushed very strongly to have the wheat milled by the supplier, North Country Malt. Milling wheat is tough enough, milling raw kernels is no joke. Since I only milled 3 pounds and thought my drill was going to explode, 30+ pounds would really suck. The guys took my word for it, and we had the supplier mill the wheat. We also sourced our pilsner malt from NCM. For hops, we went with Hallertau Select since they were under 2% AA and we did not have access to ample amounts of aged hops. For yeast, we used 5 very fresh smack packs of Wyeast Lambic Blend, a half gallon, 4th generation, slurry of Roselare, and the contents of a primaried 5 gallon starter batch pitched with Wyeast Lambic Blend.