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tom sawyer
04/02/10 01:35 PM  
Taking the Solera Plunge
I've been aging my first fresh-grape wine, a nice Lodi Zin, in a new Hungarian oak barrel for the last six months. It is definitely oaky enough at this point, and I was contemplating making a batch of wine from Chilean grapes to keept he barrel full. However, since I found this site and saw what can be done with a used wine barrel, I became excited to try this instead. This morning I racked my wine into carboys and rinsed the barrel.

I procured some WLP655, and am mashing a grist for a nice Flanders red as we speak. It is a Belgian dubbel-type recipe with D2 syrup, biscuit and Special B. Base malt is Rahr pils with some Munich and wheat malt. I grew up some WLP530 but have decided to pitch only the 655 and go for full-out sour. I can always blend it with something later on. I am making 5gal today, and will brew again in a week once the fermentation on this batch is well underway.

I have a batch of Flanders red made with Wyeast lambic blend that is six months old. I contemplated adding it to this barrel, but its far enough along that I hate to delay getting another nice lambic.

One question, what is the OG of Rodenbach grand cru? Is it really only 1.057? And, are there any comments/suggestions for me as I embark on this odyssey?

tom sawyer
04/02/10 07:46 PM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
My recipe was loosely based on Zanisheff's BCS recipe (with the addition of candi syrup), but as I read about Flanders reds in Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium, I wonder if I shouldn't lighten things up with the next batch. I'm thinking just a pils/wheat malt grist with a little sugar in the boil. I also hopped to 25IBU with Tettnanger, I think I'll go real light on the hops on the second 5gal and cut that too.
04/03/10 01:44 AM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
If my experience was deeper, I would advise you. It seems

as if we are traveling a nearly parallel road. My barrel contents will be a bit dark as well based upon advise from

folks at AHA forum. BDSA lends itself to the solera better

than lighter cololr beer I am told. Keep posting...as will I.

tom sawyer
04/03/10 08:48 AM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
Thats true, I did read that the darker brew would complement/cover the wine flavor/aroma and the oak, both of which will be pronounced. And having recently fallen in love with Rodenbach, I looked for a recipe along those lines. This won't be a BDSA though, its only 1.052 at the moment.

Good luck to us both! It seems that there is a bit of that required to make a beer using these wild critter blends.

tom sawyer
07/24/11 04:19 PM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
Found my original thread so I thought I'd update it since its about all I have in the way of notes.

My first pull was sometime in February, 3gal from the 11gal barrel. That beer did well in competition, was complex but not terribly tart. I have a few bottles left. Its a light amber and fairly thin with some distinct notes from the wine along with the Brett horsey character.

I just did a second 3gal pull today, and replaced this with 3gal of dubbel I brewed for the purpose. This pull was darker and had a little more body than the first, and is noticeably more tart. Much closer to a Duchesse type of Flanders red this time. When I siphoned out of the barrel I intentionally vacuumed out quite a bit of trub from the bottom of the barrel in the name of maintaining the solera. To carbonate this brew I used some orange blossom honey and some pomegranate molasses, the molasses is also quite tart. I also added a cup of an orange chocolate port wine I made. I was intending to blend a bit of a lambic that is so sour it'll take the enamel off your teeth, but this brew is already tart enough.

I really like the flavor of this blend and am looking forward to it being carbonated. I took a chance and didn't add fresh yeast, with all the trub I hope theres something that will make CO2 from my sugars. I bottled twelve champagne bottles (corked with plastic and caged) and seven beer bottles for possible comp entry. It should be carbonated to nearly 3vol of CO2, hopefully the beer bottles will take that pressure.

I think I may have to pull 5-6gal next time I do this since the tartness is getting to the point that it could be too much. I may also brew the next batch with Brett or a lambic blend to get the Brett back to the fore. This beer has some of the horsey/cherry character but I don't want it swamped out by the lactic acid.

07/24/11 07:52 PM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
I can't tell from your description, are you fermenting the refill portion clean with just Saccharomyces before adding to the barrel? That can help the solera beer from getting too sour since there are fewer sugars for the bugs to feast on.
tom sawyer
07/24/11 08:08 PM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
Yes I used WLP530 for the dubbel. As I recall I did the same thing for my first pull. This batch of dubbel fermented pretty dry, FG was 1.010.
07/24/11 10:23 PM  
Re: Taking the Solera Plunge
I just pulled 10 gallons out of mine yesterday for the first time. I'm just doing a regular, turbid mash lambic in mine. Next time I pull some out I'll have to figure out how to suck some of the trub out, I don't think my autosiphon is long enough.,
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