Funky Barrel III - Oud Bruin Flanders Brown

This project was concluded on November 21st, 2010 when all shareholders racked the beer out of the barrel and took them home. Since Jody moved out of state, he donated his share. Bob S also got worried about handing a sour beer and potentially infecting his brewery so he donated his share. We kept one of the shares for club functions and the other was equally distributed across the remaining shares by overfilling the carboys and kegs slightly.

We're looking forward to tasting the beer after carbonation but it's certainly more dry and sour than the style dictates. This was to be expected due to the 12 months of aging. A blend with a very malty Brown ale prior to packaging would be a worthy experiment. More notes on this beer will be added after tasting.

Note: The following text was the original pitch to the club for this project. The batch was actually brewed at Teach a Friend to Brew day on November 10th.

Whales Funky Barrel III - Oud Bruin (Old Brown) - September 15, 2009

As many of you Whales know, there is 60 gallons of cherry Lambic (Kriek) doing its funky thing in a Cabernet barrel in Bobby’s basement and it’s been there since January 2009. The barrel was previously home to a Flanders Red that got its start in early 2008. Racking of the Kriek will coincide with the addition of the next project…….

Of course, we don’t want to leave the barrel dry so Project Funky III is in the works. As to not be too repetitive, this time it’s going to be a Flanders Brown or “Oud Bruin”. This beer is bigger than the red with an OG of 1.070 and it should be sweeter, maltier, and darker too.

Read more: Funky Barrel III - Oud Bruin Flanders Brown

2010 Big Brew Video - WINNER!

The WHALES won the video contest this year for the most viewed video on Youtube. We think winning most viewed is slightly less prestigeous than the "spirit of big brew" category because we'll never know if it would have placed if it weren't for the 1100 subscribers BobbyfromNJ has. We like to think that if AHA allowed for placing in both categories, we would have ;-) Click the read more button to see the video.


Read more: 2010 Big Brew Video - WINNER!

WHALES Stein Bier Project 2009 w/Video

The WHALES steinbier (Stone Beer) project was conceived (stolen) when a few of the WHALES visited the Chico Hombrew Club's booth at NHC 2009 during club night. They had a nice steinbier on tap to go with a video showing their project. The WHALES in attendance immediately brainstormed for a future copy cat project. Certainly this is nothing new. In fact, Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port/Lost Abbey brewing spoke about his steinbier project, Hot Rocks Lager, later in the conference and many people are aware of Dogfishhead's Sah'tea beer. Check out the quick sips video and "Sam getting his Rocks off" for Sah'tea on this site.  We all loved watching the forklift hit the ceiling before the bucket of hot rocks cleared the boil kettle. Good for a laugh anyway.

Further research brought us to several other sources of info such as brewing magazine articles, books  and podcasts. Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing book comes to mind though it doesn't specifically mention boiling wort with rocks but rather as a way to heat water and mash. On of the most entertaining podcasts is Craft Beer Radio though you'll have to sift through the descriptions to find the episodes that apply to stein beer. These guys went through a lot of different attempts to perfect the method.

In the spirit of friendly brew club oneupsmanship, the WHALES wanted to go big. Most homebrew steinbier projects are limited to maybe a 10 gallon boil. We boiled 35 gallons (out of an overall 50 gallon preboil volume). Larger commercial attempts (see dogfish above) tend to limit the stone exposure to a very small portion of the overall wort volume and we think it's sorta cheating. If you want to be a purist, the intent is to replicate the circumstance of not being able to boil wort in any other fashion. To that end, we also decided to boil wort directly in an oak vat. Yes, yes, we cheated too. Don't pay any attention to the propane burners, modern plastics and stainless steel. We even have an electronic thermometer stuck through the barrel. It's very difficult to jetison modern conveniences for nostalgia.

For more description, a full video, and some advice for those thinking about stein brewing, click "READ MORE"

Read more: WHALES Stein Bier Project 2009 w/Video

AHA Big Brew 2009

This is the WHALES entry for the AHA Big Brew 2009 Youtube Video contest. Please tell everyone you know to view it!!

10BBL Braggot Brew at Harvest Moon

A couple months ago Harvest Moon held a homebrew competition with another local company. The winner got to get a 10bbl batch (310 gallon) of beer brewed and served at the brewpub!! I entered with a bunch of my club mates from the WHALES. Brad and Jen won with a Chamomile Braggot. I came in 2nd with my German Chocolate Stout, and Nick came in 3rd with I think a pale ale. I got a couple growlers, carry case, and a free refill as a prize...and we all got invited to brew the beer today!


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Brewing Project General Guidelines


The projects described here are not official club sanctioned activities but they occur with such regularity that some general guidelines are being published to help keep expectations consistent. The benefit to having such a large pool of members is the opportunity to get small groups of people together for special brewing projects that no single brewer would dare take on themselves. By far the most common project involves individual shares/batches of beer, mead or cider that are mixed together in oak barrels for moderate to long term aging. This activity sometimes produces an exceptional product but always solidifies the camaraderie of its participants.


Read more: Brewing Project General Guidelines

2008 Iron Brewer Results


In the spirit of the Food Network’s "Iron Chef" TV show, we would like to invite you to participate in the WHALES club’s first annual Iron Brewer Challenge! The Iron Brewer Challenge will test your recipe creativity and brewing skills like no other competition ever has before!


Each brewer will pick from a hat an "Iron Brewer Group Letter". Each group letter will have 3 yeast choices and 6 special ingredient choices. Each brewer will then select one yeast strain and one or more of the special ingredients to be used in their brew. When everyone’s yeast and special ingredient choice(s) have been made, we will announce what the grain bill is and distribute the grain accordingly. Hop type and quantity used are the brewer’s choice . Brewers may brew in teams, on their own, at the Big Brew, whatever you like! At the January 2009 club meeting, all of the entries will be judged according to BJCP base style guidelines and the first annual Iron Brewer Challenge winner will be cro wned and awards/prizes will be given out!

Read more: 2008 Iron Brewer Results

Funky Barrel II - Kriek Belgian Cherry Lambic

The Kriek Project came to a close in November 2009 but here's the original project pitch:

As many of you Whales know, there is 60 gallons of Flemish Sour Red doing its funky thing in a Cabernet barrel in my basement and it’s been there since January 2008.

The membership of this batch includes: Bobby, Nick, Jody, Colin, Bill C, Gary, Gene, Brad & Jen, Mike V, Dave, and Rick & Heather, JD, and Jay. These shares will be collected out of the barrel about the first week of January (11 months total)

We didn’t want to waste the barrel nor the Lambic blend of funky critters that now have a foothold in the oak. The Kriek (Cherry Lambic) Barrel Project is born. Kriek is a Belgian wheat-based sour beer (Lambic) to which sour cherries are added (the raspberry version is call Framboise). There are quite a number of commercial examples available (somewhere):

Traditional Krieks include: Boon, Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Girardin 1882, Hanssens, Oud Beersel Oude Vieille, Timmermans Traditional.

Sweetened Krieks include: Belle-Vue, Chapeau, Lindemans , Mort Subite ,Timmermans, and St. Louis. ß


Read more: Funky Barrel II - Kriek Belgian Cherry Lambic

2007-08 365 Whales Barrel Mead Project

Plan:  Ferment honey in two 55 gallon foodservice grade drums.  Rack into secondary Laird's Applejack barrels and age for one year.  Cost:  $30 per 5 gallon share all inclusive.

Barrel One @Luke's: Jenn&Brad, Luke, Rick&Heather, KeithS, Jody, Tripka, MikeV & Newman, BillC, Jim and BillS.

Barrel A @Uncle Leo's: Gene, Kristen&Rob, Leo, Colin, Prez, Gary, HarleySteve, BobbyM and Glenn.

Read more: 2007-08 365 Whales Barrel Mead Project

Funky Barrel I - Flanders Red 2008

Flanders Group

The Whales had run the course of big barrel brewing projects and wanted to switch things up.

Someone came up with the idea of doing something sour. Though it's an aquired taste, club membership had grown to a point where there would certainly be enough shares sold.

Updated to attach BJCP score sheets from the 2009 Buzz Off Comp. It scored 26/30 averaged to 28. The only dings were from high tannins from long aging in Oak. Subsequent batches in this same barrel shouldn't have that problem. The barrel was probably just too fresh for a year long soak.The original eleven shareholders were: Bobby, Nick, Jody, Colin, Bill C, Gary, Gene, Brad & Jen, Mike V, Dave, and Rick & Heather. The individual batches were brewed according to Jamil Z's Flanders recipe around the first of February 2008.

In selecting a barrel, it was noted that one might associate the dry/tart flavor of sour beers to that of a dry wine. On February 9th, several WHALES trekked over to the Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, NJ to pick up Cabernet Savignon barrel for the project and do some wine tasting while they were there. Directly afterward, the group drove back to Bobby's house to rack the beers in. Some members couldn't make it so they dropped off their mostly fermented (with a neutral ale yeast) beers ahead of time.


Keith Story donated the wooden cradle to hold the barrel secure up on a few stacked concrete blocks to make the finished batch rackable into carboys.

After getting the barrel down into the basement, we wanted to make sure it was leak free. About 3 gallons of boiling water was poured in to help swell the staves. We put the bung in and spent a good 15 minutes rolling the barrel back and forth across the length of the basement. A few pints of water leaked out in the process but overall we were confident our stash would not leak out.


After filling the barrel and realizing there was still a bit of headspace in the barrel we later invited new member JD to add a topoff batch on March 15th.

Wooden barrels are not air tight so liquid is lost to evaporation over long periods of time. Therefore, sometime in fall 2008, newer member Jay added the last topoff batch.

The total membership is now 13 so 60/13 - dregs = approximately 4 gal each to rack out (or whatever it ends up being). Shareholders will rack their batches out of the barrel about the first week of January 2009.


Read more: Funky Barrel I - Flanders Red 2008