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fruit flies in a bungless wine barrel

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  • fruit flies in a bungless wine barrel

    We received a wine barrel the other day without a bung, it was inspected by one of our guys (maybe not thoroughly enough) and rinsed with 185 degree liquor water, then filled with a 10.5% Belgian quad. We also added 3 Brett strains to the barrel to funk up the quad. The next day we removed the bung and discovered the bodies of several dead fruit flies floating in the foam around the bung. Obviously indicating there were more fruit flies in the barrel. Should I dump or Proceed? how would you guys deal with this. I'm assuming this happens quite often for sour brewers?

  • #2
    The bad news: acetobacter, which is notoriously carried by fruit flies, is very alcohol-tolerant; 10.5% isn't enough to kill it, and I wouldn't count on that rinse to have done the job, either. If it were my barrel, I would assume it's infected.

    The good news: acetobacter needs oxygen to metabolize alcohol to acetic acid, so, as long as you can keep that O2 out (top off the barrel periodically to make up for the angels' share, flush bottles/kegs when you package, etc), it shouldn't affect the flavor of the beer too much.

    Maybe you'll have picked up some other critters, but there's not much that can live in finished beer, and given you pitched brett, it doesn't sound like you'd mind a little sour or funk from any wild brett or pediococcus that might've also hitched a ride on your fruit fly friends.

    If it were me, I'd let it ride and see what happens a little acetic can lend a nice character, kinda thing you'd get in a Flanders red or brown. But, sounds like this isn't the only barrel you filled don't blend it back with the other clean barrels!

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    • #3
      Thanks for the well thought out response. We added Brett to all 3 of the barrels of quad (we think brett adds a nice little bit of complexity to a quad). So definitely no concerns with a little added funk. We will keep an eye out for oxygen ingress on that barrel to reduce acetic formation.

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      • #4
        Your brett should take care of any extra O2 and aceto that comes along. I think your good!

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