Big Batch Brew Day!

Written by Brandon Jones for

I’ve been looking forward to the day when I had the chance to write this blog entry…the day I get to talk about brewing a full size batch of sour goodness for the Embrace The Funk series at Yazoo. Yep on March 2nd Linus Hall and I brewed a full 40bbl batch on the big system! (Our previous batches together have been 10bbl) What an awesome experience it was to plan and gather up everything we needed to brew a Lambic style ale.

ETF1labelOne of the first items on the list was to figure out which yeast/wild yeast/bacteria blend to go with. We already have a single barrel batch (59 gallons) of Lambic style beer fermenting which we have been very happy with it’s progress since early Fall. That batch was fermented with a few goodies from my stockpile of funk and Bug Farm 5. So in what has been one of the coolest moments of my sour brewing adventure I worked with the Brewing Science Institute (BSI) on building up a proprietary sour blend based on our first batch. Working out the proportions of the different microbes to make up our ETF1 blend and actually seeing 40bbl pitch of it was one of those brewing moments I’ll always remember.

We decided to go with the same barrel broker as we previously used to secure ourlambic2013barrels racks and wine barrels. We secured 23 neutral French Oak barrels for this project. A few days before the brew session Linus filled and swelled each one to check for leaks. We only had one barrel that leaked hot water from the area where the Head meets the Croze, but it swelled back out after a few hours.  As we did on our previous batches we opted for used 7 inch double barrel racks which allow us plenty of working room near the bung hole. The were pretty rough when we got them, but a quick sandblast and powder coating by one of the local paint shops fixed that problem. They looked sweet when we got them back! Since this batch is going sit and rest for quite awhile we thought it would be nice if the racks looked good.


So as you can see in the picture above the racks look awesome…but also in the pic 20130302_083655are the hops we used. Those are 3 year old aged whole leaf Willamettes from Fresh Hops. Ironic getting aged hops from a hop farm called Fresh Hops right?  I used these same hops at home a few months ago when I brewed my Lambic style beer for the year and have been really pleased with how the aged hop profile came through.

This was really the only part of the brew I  wasn’t 100% sure about. When I’ve used aged hops at home (whether they were20130302_101412 sourced from a grower already aged or ones I aged in my attic) I know what my hop extraction is like on my system, but definitely had to yield to Linus’ knowledge of his system on this one.  My typical home usage rate of what equates to 1/2 a pound per bbl volume of beer is close to what Cantillon uses… by the way I’m told that Drie Fonteinen uses about 1lb per barrel.

So once Linus and I talked about the hop addition time and what to expect I decided on .65 pounds of aged hops per bbl at boil. Due the induction type boil system at Yazoo all the whole leaf hops had to be bagged up or they would get sucked up and clog the system. I’m happy to report that did not happen!

FB_IMG_13622637300383856So after a soft water single infusion mash at 154F with a grist containing 60% Pils/ 35% White Wheat/ 5% Acid malt, boiling for an hour, chatting with Brewmaster Spike from Terrapin Brewing Company who stopped by (and brought us beer!) we were ready to knock out and fill barrels. The barrels were lined up outside on the loading dock and wouldn’t you know it…Mother Nature decided we needed snow flurries which definitely made the brew day even more memorable!
We filled the barrels and pitched @70F our super fresh ETF1 blend at a rate of 7 million cells/ml.
Active fermentation really kicked off later the next day…It was time to break out the mop to clean around the barrels by Monday morning.

We did give a toast to someone who has been very helpful to me over the past 2 years and given me some great Lambic brewing advice: Jean Van Roy of Cantillon. So since I’m not a champagne drinker and this isn’t a boat… we christened one of the barrels with the yeast/bacteria dregs from our toast bottle of Cantillon Iris and marked the barrel J.V.R. Maybe that barrel will have some extra magic to it? Who knows? I just thought it was something fun and respectful to do with the dregs.


Even as I write this blog post I’m still smiling and almost feel like I need to pinch myself. I had so much fun planning the brew and brewing with Linus this past weekend. I still can’t believe I’m getting the opportunity to create sour/wild beers for you guys at such an awesome brewery.  I’m looking forward to continuing to collect data and experiences to share with everyone.

I’ve had a lot of people ask when they can start buying our Yazoo Embrace The Funk series of beers. I think in just a couple of weeks (2-3?) I’ll be able to release the second beer in the series (first was Wild Child in December). We have been working since last year on  these beers and I feel like in about 2-3 weeks I’ll have enough beer that is already kegged and enough that is soon to be kegged to start releasing. I have to make sure this is OK and will fall in line with the taproom’s tap schedule, but that’s what I’m shooting for.
The Sour Red we brewed back in November continues to age and rest in wine barrels. A few people have recently asked how that project was going…

So that’s what I did with my Saturday, I hope yours was just as awesome!
As always whenever there is something worth updating on this beer I will do it it here and make sure to Facebook/Tweet it out.

Which brings me to this: Make sure you follow Embrace The Funk on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t miss the line of ETF recipe kits available exclusively at Rebel Brewer.

Here are a few more pictures from our brew session Saturday:

Linus filling the barrel

Linus filling a barrel

Barrel Gun

Barrel Gun


Our Lambic Style beer fermenting away in the funky upstairs area 3/4/2013

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