Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:01 pm

I went to a AHA rally at Wicked Weed's barrel house called the Funkatorium. The generous brewers handed out ziplock bags with half a dozen or so chunks of wood. This came from a retired soured bourdon barrel. So, I thought "perfect, I am brewing an Old Ale next weekend."

Then my buddy pointed out that the inside of the barrel is covered with the stuff you want and the outside is covered with stuff you don't. Brewery scum, etc.

The question is what is the best way to sanitize this wood to kill the bad and preserve the good bugs?
Brudolph
 
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:50 am

What I use to do was put them in a metal strainer in a pot of boiling water. But the water would turn brown from the chips and I felt that I was losing some goodness. So now I put my oven on and put the chips in some foil and leave them in for about half an hour.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:37 pm

You have a quandary there. Do the chunks of wood look like they are from both the inside and outside of the barrel? If it were me, I would probably boil up some water, and once it reached a boil turn it off and let it sit for a few minutes to stop boiling and drop a few degrees. Then dump in your oak and give it a good soaking in the just boiled water (i.e. 15-20 min or so).
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:12 pm

They have both inside and outside the barrel.
Brudolph
 
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:19 pm

Brudolph wrote:They have both inside and outside the barrel.


It looks as though everyone is misunderstanding your original question, your goal is to get the good bugs off the inside portions to produce a similar sour culture while not getting any of the bad bugs that have accumulated on the outside that could possibly wreck the flavor profile your going after, correct? If they were given out in bags it sounds as though through mixing/jostling the wood in the bag all surface areas would have come in contact with each other and possibly contaminated inside portions with outside portions therefore giving an undesirable mixed culture. Maybe give a quick surface sanitization of the inside surface, prepare a nice sugary starter and expose just the inside portions to allow the bugs to get started on that and then build up a sour culture from there? ...I don't know though maybe I'm not looking at this the right way haha. If it's sour you're after, maybe pose the question to Jay Goodwin in the sour hour show tomorrow, I'd be interested in what he has to say on the subject.
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:26 pm

Seeing how the purpose of barrels in a sour is for the culture of Brett and bacteria, not wood flavor, I'd forget the woof chunks and use WW bottle dregs.
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:39 pm

You could also do a one gallon test batch with the cubes. If it doesn't taste good then you haven't lost much. If it does taste good then keep the cubes.

It's also possible clean the cubes like one would a barrel. From what I've heard on the Sour Hour the good bugs are probably deep inside anyway..
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Re: Sanitizing oak from a Wick Weed soured bourbon barrel

Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:57 pm

I sent Tom Schmidlin a copy of the first post. Tom is in my homebrew club and is now a pro brewer (PostDoc Brewing Co.). He was in a similar situation a few years ago when Vinnie Cilurzo handed out some oak chips that came from one of Russian River's beers.
(Tom is also on the AHA's governing committee and is one of the moderators of the AHA forum.)

Tom Schmidlin wrote:It might be ok to just throw them in. I did with Vinnie's chips, but
those were not ground up barrel. Vinnie threw a shitload of oak chips
into a beer, then pulled them out after some length of time and gently
dried them. Then they were bagged and distributed.

Depending on how they got the chunks, depends on what I would do with
them. The safest bet, pull a large enough sample to cover the chunks
and let them sit for a few days, then smell/taste before deciding
whether to toss them in the full batch or not.


Edit: He also followed up with this:
Tom Schmidlin wrote:The other thing to do is, if it smells even a little bit
off, wait another couple of days. It won't hurt the finished product
to delay, but you can't unfuck it once you throw them in.
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