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Thinking of doing a Sanke keg solera barleywine


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#1 gnef

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 07:49 PM

Right now I have a  55 gallon jack daniels barrel as a flanders red solera. I am very intrigued by this method of storage, and have been trying to think of other ways of doing soleras that wouldn't be quite as demanding as the big barrel.

 

I was first thinking of 3 or so 30 gallon barrels to do a true multiple vessel solera, but the cost, as well as the intense oak character of new barrels has kept me from going this route.

 

Then I realized that I still have a spare 15.5 gallon sanke keg. It isn't as large as what I was originally thinking, but this will also make brewing and storage simpler, and it should be fairly easy to add multiple vessels in the future if I so desire.

 

I was thinking about getting something like this: https://www.brewhard...t_pressure.htm 

 

So, I would take out the spear, then use that fitting from brewhardware; for storage, I was thinking about removing the compression fitting with racking cane, and replacing it with a pressure gauge. That way I would be able to use the ball lock fitting to add pressure, and monitor the pressure over time (check for leaks, as well as make sure there isn't an infection over time).

 

I was thinking a barleywine would be an interesting choice for this type of aging. I would brew up 15-20 gallons, ferment separately, then rack to the sanke keg for long term aging, along with oak cubes (I was thinking around 3-4 ounces american medium for 15.5 gallons in the sanke).

 

I would let that age for at least a year, then the following year, get another sanke keg, brew 20 gallons, pull 5 gallons from the first sanke, refill with 5 gallons of the new batch, as well as fill the new sanke, plus add oak to the new sanke.

 

Repeat the next year to get to 3 vessels, and then every following year only brew 5ish gallons, do the cascade transfer, tasting the transfers to see if any oak needs to be added.

 

Thoughts? Right now my timeline is indefinite to get started (second child just born earlier this month, so I know time will be very limited for a project like this), I am just in the thinking phase. I think a barleywine would age well like this, and after the three years, I would only need to brew 5 gallons at a time.


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#2 neddles

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 08:05 PM

Is O2 ingress one of the benefits of doing this in wood as opposed to on wood? If so, how would you mimic that?


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#3 gnef

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 08:11 PM

Good question! There are a couple things I was thinking for that. One, just leave unpurged headspace in each keg (very limited). The other is that with the way I transfer from fermenters to the kegs, there will always be some O2 exposure, so I'm not even sure if I would have to worry about it.

 

The other option is rather than use the fitting from brewhardware, I could use an orange carboy cap stretched over the opening with an airlock. I assume the orange carboy cap is permeable to oxygen in limited amounts, and could contribute to that as well.

 

I was leaning more towards limiting the O2 to just the transfers, and see how it goes from there. I liked the idea of sealing off the sanke for storage so that I wouldn't have to worry about refilling an airlock.


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#4 TAPPER

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 09:15 AM

I ferment in sanke kegs all the time.  You can do this by just taking a sanke coupler and capping the out and attaching a blow out to the gas side.  Might be a check valve on the gas side you have to remove.


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#5 SchwanzBrewer

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 09:43 AM

I wouldn't worry much about the O2. There will be O2 trapped in the wood and there's plenty in the transfers unless you are completely closed.


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#6 gnef

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 09:35 AM

I ferment in sanke kegs all the time.  You can do this by just taking a sanke coupler and capping the out and attaching a blow out to the gas side.  Might be a check valve on the gas side you have to remove.

I thought about that, but for long term storage, I'd rather not have the spear in there if possible. Before I actually start this project, I'll probably get the triclamp fitting from brewhardware, and see how well it seals.


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#7 SchwanzBrewer

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 09:37 AM

Do it.


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#8 gnef

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 09:50 AM

I wouldn't worry much about the O2. There will be O2 trapped in the wood and there's plenty in the transfers unless you are completely closed.

Thanks for the confirmation, I don't think I'll worry about it. Especially if I am able to go through with this as a 3 vessel solera, by the 4th year, I'm sure it will have picked up some oxidation, and the blending should make an interesting product.

 

Again, I don't know when I'll be able to start, but realizing I could use sanke kegs makes it a lot easier to manage and think about compared to the traditional oak barrels. I'll have to get another two sanke kegs, but I'll have years to source those when needed.


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#9 cavman

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 09:36 PM

It could be fun, but I am not sure I see why you would. IMO the best BWs are aged in bourbon barrels so you would not have that, but more importantly what are you you expecting to get from using this method on a BW? It could possibly help with a smoother end product so there is that. If you do decide to do this go with English style as the hops in American style could cause off flavors over time.
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#10 gnef

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Posted 29 January 2016 - 08:19 PM

Interesting note on the American hops.

 

As for the bourbon barrels, I do plan on adding oak cubes. Not exactly the same, but it should be pretty close.

 

I think the biggest thing for me is to try something new/different. I already have the 60 gallon flanders red solera, which isn't a true multi vessel solera; I wanted to give a true solera a try.

 

As for the barleywine itself, I felt that it was a style that would do well aged for multiple years, and the solera storage/method should increase complexity and layers of flavors due to the blending of the vessels over time.

 

I have been thinking about even doing it as a SMASH barleywine, and allowing all the complexity to come from aging and blending.

 

I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to it, but I hope so! (I'm not even sure if I would be able to do it this calendar year)


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#11 gnef

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Posted 31 July 2016 - 05:32 PM

I've been thinking about this more. 

 

I'm not dead set on a barleywine anymore, as to keep this up, I would need to go through 5 gallons a year, otherwise I will have an increasing backlog of barleywine kegs. The other option would be to as a barleywine keg empties, that is my cue to do the next batch and cascade filling. I am open to other ideas for the solera though. I don't want it to be a sour style, as I am already doing the flanders solera. Are there other styles that any of you can think of that I should consider for a multi vessel solera to be cycled once a year?

 

For the keg itself, I am also thinking that I'll leave the spear in, and just use a sanke coupler to do the transfers. I did buy one of the fittings from brew hardware, but try as I could, I could not get a perfectly airtight seal on any of my tests. The best I could do was a slow leak that took two days to drain the volume of the fitting itself (I used an endcap and silicone triclamp gasket for these tests). Utilizing the spear and the ball check valve integrated will be the best bet at this point. If I do this, I may even get a spare coupler to set up as a pressure gauge.


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#12 cavman

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 06:56 PM

Golden Brett beers, mix in some unfermented wort as well as prefer enter wort with different strains. The Brett will be what becomes the common denominator.
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#13 gnef

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:32 PM

I thought I'd update this thread on my progress. I've finally finished the first vessel!

 

I did 20 gallons of a barleywine, done in four 5 gallon batches. The average OG came out to 1.134, and the FG was 1.021, so I have about a 14.5% barleywine.

 

I decided on using the sanke kegs with the spear in. So, I took out the spear, put it on my keg washer and made sure it was clean. Before installing the spear, I poured in a generous amount of star san along with 4 ounces of american medium toast oak cubes. I then used CO2 to push the star san out and purge as much of the O2 out as possible.

 

I then used a coupler to do the racking, and I was only able to fill the Sanke keg. I didn't realize how much of the volume in the fermenter would be yeast. I was just able to completely fill the sanke keg, and the soda keg I had ready was not put to use. 

 

Next year when I do the next vessel, I'll need to brew 25 gallons to ensure that I can get at least 20 gallons into the kegs, this way I can fill the new sanke keg as well as do the partial drain and fill of the sanke keg from this year.

 

I've also been thinking about how I will eventually do the transfers. Right now I have a stainless sanke coupler that has John Guest fittings on the gas and beer connections. This is what I used to rack into the sanke keg. I plan on making another two of these setups since I will eventually have this as a 3 vessel solera. In the fourth year and beyond, my plan is to rack the 5 gallons of the new barleywine into a soda keg, and then daisy chain that through the three solera vessels (starting from the youngest to the oldest), and the into a final soda keg, and just push the beer with CO2 until the first soda keg is empty. I figure this will be the easiest way to do the cascading refill. I assume there will be a good amount of lees moved around, so I may draw off the first runnings before transfering to the final soda keg.

 

I've also been thinking about how much barleywine I drink a year, and I'm thinking that once I have the three vessels filled, I may only brew a batch every other year, as I don't actually go through enough barleywine in a year to justify adding another 5 gallons.

 

In a year, I'll sample the current sanke keg and check the oaking level. I think 4 ounces should be fine, but I may need to adjust for the subsequent years depending on the tasting next year and how much oak has been transferred into the beer itself from just the 4 ounces over the course of a year in 15.5 gallons of volume.


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