Funky Barrel I - Flanders Red 2008

Flanders Group

The Whales had run the course of big barrel brewing projects and wanted to switch things up.

Someone came up with the idea of doing something sour. Though it's an aquired taste, club membership had grown to a point where there would certainly be enough shares sold.

Updated to attach BJCP score sheets from the 2009 Buzz Off Comp. It scored 26/30 averaged to 28. The only dings were from high tannins from long aging in Oak. Subsequent batches in this same barrel shouldn't have that problem. The barrel was probably just too fresh for a year long soak.The original eleven shareholders were: Bobby, Nick, Jody, Colin, Bill C, Gary, Gene, Brad & Jen, Mike V, Dave, and Rick & Heather. The individual batches were brewed according to Jamil Z's Flanders recipe around the first of February 2008.

In selecting a barrel, it was noted that one might associate the dry/tart flavor of sour beers to that of a dry wine. On February 9th, several WHALES trekked over to the Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, NJ to pick up Cabernet Savignon barrel for the project and do some wine tasting while they were there. Directly afterward, the group drove back to Bobby's house to rack the beers in. Some members couldn't make it so they dropped off their mostly fermented (with a neutral ale yeast) beers ahead of time.


Keith Story donated the wooden cradle to hold the barrel secure up on a few stacked concrete blocks to make the finished batch rackable into carboys.

After getting the barrel down into the basement, we wanted to make sure it was leak free. About 3 gallons of boiling water was poured in to help swell the staves. We put the bung in and spent a good 15 minutes rolling the barrel back and forth across the length of the basement. A few pints of water leaked out in the process but overall we were confident our stash would not leak out.


After filling the barrel and realizing there was still a bit of headspace in the barrel we later invited new member JD to add a topoff batch on March 15th.

Wooden barrels are not air tight so liquid is lost to evaporation over long periods of time. Therefore, sometime in fall 2008, newer member Jay added the last topoff batch.

The total membership is now 13 so 60/13 - dregs = approximately 4 gal each to rack out (or whatever it ends up being). Shareholders will rack their batches out of the barrel about the first week of January 2009.



Note: There are more pics in the photogallery.

The recipe was borrowed from Jamil Z as was discussed on his Brewing Network podcast. We did this prior to the availability of "Brewing Classic Styles" so we found someone who compiled a list of Jamil's recipes on a website called Brad Jones rebuilt the recipe in promash (.rec file) and made the file available on the Whales Yahoo site for all to use. Bobby also rebuilt it in Beertoolspro (.btp file). Both files are attached

Flanders Red

17-B Flanders Red Ale
Author: Bobby
Date: 12/29/2007

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 11.06 gal
Efficiency: 87.5%
Attenuation: 74.6%
Calories: 196.0 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.059 (1.046 - 1.054)

Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.008 - 1.016)

Color: 14.65 (10.0 - 16.0)

Alcohol: 5.76% (5.0% - 5.5%)

Bitterness: 13.2 (15.0 - 25.0)


8.47 lb Pilsen Malt
8.47 lb Vienna Malt
1.61 lb Bonlander Munich Malt
0.81 lb Pale Wheat Malt
0.81 lb Special B - Caramel malt
0.81 lb Aromatic Malt (Amber 50)
0.81 lb Caramunich® TYPE III
1.18 oz East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min


Ambient Air: 70.0 °F
Source Water: 60.0 °F
Elevation: 0.0 m

00:37:46 Mash In - Liquor: 6.53 gal; Strike: 174.91 °F; Target: 154 °F
01:37:46 Sac Rest - Rest: 60 min; Final: 152.8 °F
01:47:46 Batch Sparge - First Runnings: 0.0 gal sparge @ 151.7 °F, 3.95 gal collected, 0.0 min; Batch 1: 4.5 gal sparge @ 180 °F, 4.5 gal collected, 5 min; Batch 2: 4.5 gal sparge @ 180 °F, 4.5 gal collected, 5 min; Total Runoff: 13.27 gal


hit 154 mash temp.
first runnings: 4.25 gallons.
sparge 4.5 @ 180....163F settle. runnings 4.4 gallons.
sparge 4.5 @ 175....169F settle, runnings 4.6 gallons
10.75 total in fermenters.

Bobby extracted about a liter sample from the barrel in time for the May 2008 club meeting to let people taste how it was progressing;

We just held the May Whales meeting and as those in attendance found, the Flanders batch is progressing nicely. Even though it's quite young, it is beginning to take on a subtle oak flavor and is certainly beginning to sour. When pulling the sample out of the barrel, I noticed a full pellicle: pel·li·cle (pl-kl) n. A thin skin or film, such as an organic membrane or liquid film. In any case, we know that Brett forms this coating so we can be sure it's active. Assuming most contribution batches went in somewhere between 1.010 and 1.020, we can also note that the Brett has further attenuated down to 1.005 already. It's likely this will be finishing down in wine territory. There is substantial headspace in the barrel. I pulled a quick sample with a sanitized turkey baster and it just made the surface. One of our new members Jay DeSimone will be brewing a batch as a top up contribution. The neat thing about Jamil's no-blend method is that adding a batch that has been mostly fermented out with traditional ale yeast can be added to the larger bulk should not introduce any new sugar or oxygen. If you added a sweet wort now, the Brett would overly sour it. I'm psyched to think we'll be sipping this one over the coming winter. - Bobby


January 3rd, 2009 marked the end of the Flanders Red Sour project as most of the contributors made their way over to Bobby's house for the rack-out. After the two top-up contributors were accounted for, all involved ended up with around 4.5 gallons. The beer ran clear for the entire racking and having the barrel and cradle up on cinder blocks allowed us to rack via gravity.

There was plenty of tasting going on during the racking. We had a bottle of Rodenbach Red sitting on the floor under the barrel for a few months that we used as a comparison. The Whales Flanders is a little less sour, but also more dry (1.000 FG measured) so it's even more approachable than commercial versions. We also sampled the Unionville Vinyard's Cabernet Savignon which was the exact batch that was originally in the barrel we used. It didn't have all that much resemblence, but it was a commemorative gesture if anything. In any case, the project was a success.

Incidentally, we also brewed a Cherry Lambic (Kreik) on the same day which will take advantage of the lambic blend that already has a foot hold in the oak.