Russian River Temptation Clone | Belgian Blonde Ale | Barrel Aged Project

On Tuesday I brewed up 10 gallons of beer for my Homebrew clubs Barrel aged project.   We are the Nordeast Brewers Alliance and we are really into experimentation, collaboration, and constant improvement!  The Barrel project is a project that I'm heading up and I'm extremely excited that we are all finally brewing the base beer that will be bulk aged.  We have 14 brewers contributing to this barrel.    Here's an update on where we are at with the project.

We have at least 40 gallons fermenting already in Primary!   I can’t actually believe that we’ve come this far.  We need about 10-15 gallons more for the initial barrel fill.  We’ll fill it up in the upcoming weeks with approximately 50-55 gallons of beer to leave some head space for some initial secondary fermentation krausen.   Once that krausen settles down in a few days I’ll top up the barrel as far as I can to inhibit any oxygen and acetobactor (which will turn the beer to vinegar very fast).    The goal for the initial fill is 59 gallons (which is the capacity of our barrel).

A couple of other things to note.   When Justin and I brewed our 10 gallons for the batch on Tuesday, Andrew came to pick up his grains so I decided to pop the top on a bottle of Russian River Temptation that I had in my cellar.   Now, I’d never had RR Temptation before but once tasting it I realized that we made an amazing decision to try and clone this beer!   It is the most refreshing tart, acidic, and funky beer I’ve ever tasted in my life.   It’s truly world class and riding the line between wine and beer, and probably more like wine then beer to most peoples palates.   With the yeast and bacteria left in the bottom of that bottle (dregs) I dumped that into a 1 gallon jug along with 1 gallon of the third runnings of our brew day.   I’ll transfer these dregs eventually into our barrel to give it more authenticity!

The barrel has been prepared as best I know how.  It holds water, I power washed it, I burned a sulfur stick in it, I rinsed it again, now it’s sitting patiently full of water (59 gallons) and a blend of Citric Acid (6 oz) and Potassium Metabisulfate (3 oz).   If this barrel isn’t ready…it ain’t my fault.    On transfer day, I’ll pump out the Acid wash, give it one last rinse and then we’ll fill it up IMMEDIATELY!

This is going to be awesome!

Here is the recipe that I brewed on Tuesday with my assistant brewer Justin "Calves" George!

Here is the recipe that we brewed for our two (5 gallon) portions of the collaborative beer.  We ended up double sparging because my mash tun isn't big enough to make a 10 gallons batch of anything over 1060.   My effeciency suffered a bit, but we took that into consideration when we created to recipe to compensate for differing effeciencies.

malt & fermentables

Malt or Fermentable
85%230Franco-Belges Pilsen Malt 352
15%40White Wheat Malt 402

Batch size: 11.0 gallons

Original Gravity 1.060 
Final Gravity      ?

5° SRM / 9° EBC
(Yellow to Gold)


fwh90 mins2.0Sterling pellet6.3
boil40 mins1.0Styrian Goldings pellet5.4
boil20 mins0.5Styrian Goldings pellet5.4

Boil: 13.0 avg gallons for 90 minutes

28.4 IBU


White Labs Belgian Bastogne Ale (WLP510)
ale yeast in liquid form with medium flocculation 

To fill the barrel full to the brim with 59 gallons and to have 10 gallons for topping off we bought a ton of grains, hops and yeast.  Here's the list of what we bought.  I decided to get a mixture of modified and undermodified Pilsner malt to replicate the inconsistency in malting like may have taken place in the olden days (a la Jolly Pumpkin).   I also got a variety of Wheat for the same purpose.

14 - 5 gallon batches..equals 70 gallons

  • 101 pounds of Rahr Premium Pilsner Malt 
  • 50 pounds of Castle Pilsner Malt
  • 14 pounds of White Wheat 
  • 7 pounds of Red Wheat
  • 7 pounds of Pale Wheat
  • 14 ounces of Sterling Hops
  • 10.5 ounces of Styrian Goldings
  • 7  Vials of White Labs Belgian Bastogne Ale (WLP510)
  • 7 Packets of Wyeast Belgian Ardennes

Booya!  Transfering to the Honey Wine Barrel in a few weeks and dumping in the dregs from my first two Flanders beers to funktify the shit out of it!

Update:  August 2013 - Pulled out of the barrel after 15 months and distributed to our members who brewed 5 gallons for this.   Each member received appr. 4.2 gallons of beautiful Sour, Tart, Belgian Blonde.   It has notes of pear, white grape, grainy middle, and finish's with a beautiful lactic tartness.  Not acetic acid present what so ever.   It has a sweetness and body at the back end of the sip that can only have been contributed by the yeast and oak.   PH is at 3.4 and the gravity is at 1.000.    Sampled side by side with RR-Temptation it's extremely hard to tell the difference between the two.  We re-brew the original recipe and immediately filled it back up with the same base beer!!!!    I am aging 2 gallons on Apricots (4 lbs/gallon) and also 2 gallons on North Star Cherries (2 lbs/gallon)  
Check out the label "Funky Hobo"   where HOBO =  Honey Oak Barrel One


  1. Unreal Nick. I can't wait until my club starts doing stuff like this. Keep up the good work.


  2. Holy cow! 14 packets/vials of yeast. Why did you not consider making a starter beer or pitching a yeast cake?

  3. We did consider it but worried about logistics and sanitation. We got a really good deal on the ingredients!

  4. If we had planned on primary fermenting in the barrel and leaving it on the lees (like a lambic) using a few yeast cakes would've made sense. Also, if we would have been doing a big brew day, that would have made sense as well. Instead, we had 14 people brewing separate 5 gallon batch's on their own time. We'll transfer them all into the barrel at which time I'll be pitching a 1 gallon yeast cake from my first two flanders beers. At least we're saving on the funk pitch.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...