santa barbara barrel retrieval
last weekend AP and I headed up north to seal the deal on a barrel for my lambic solera project.
- we drove north of santa barbara to quality wine barrels in arroyo grande where we picked up a neutral barrel. the seguin moreau french oak bordeaux barrel had been previously filled with cabernet sauvignon at both bridlewood winery and lucas and lewellen. the barrel was steam cleaned and leak tested just prior to our arrival, and drained upside-down in the back of my truck on the drive back to SB. the staff at quality wine barrels was friendly and patient, and their prices were more than fair – I walked out with a clean barrel, two-barrel steel rack, and bung for around eighty bucks.
after purging the drained barrel with CO2 and plugging it up, we left the hotel room and headed out on our bikes to explore downtown santa barbara.
- our first stop was the tasting room at telegraph brewing, where a draft flight was followed with pours of their fantastic los padres saison and rye XPA. AP was a big fan of their white ale as well. before we headed out we grabbed a bottle of their obscura cacao for the road.
- in addition to nabbing some awesome mexican, sandwiches, and seafood, and checking out some quirky local shops, we also swung by union ale, where sixteen ounce pours of surf brewing’s south swell DIPA and firestones’ 15 made for an early night.
on sunday afternoon, after fighting a serious rainstorm back down the coast, it was finally time to fill the barrel.
- after rinsing the barrel once with hot water (making sure the hot water came in contact with the entirely of the barrel interior), I then rinsed the barrel with cold filtered water and let it drain for around fifteen minutes. AP and I then lugged the beast downstairs, where I purged it again with a healthy dose of CO2 and filled it up, leaving about five gallons of headspace for krausen from the ongoing fermentation of my last two batches. fermentation ramped up as soon as all the wort was in the barrel, and soon my airlock was shaking like a weight valve on an old pressure cooker.
- with 106 lbs. of grain, 1.5 lbs. of aged hops, and over 24 hrs. of labor invested, the lambic solera barrel is definitely the crown jewel of my fermentation room. hopefully the micro-oxygenation and cellobiose feeding it provides will be good to my yeast, bugs, and wort!