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Barley Water
02/11/11 12:53 PM  
Solera Question
I just bottled some of my first sour beer. In a nutshell, I started an Oud Bruin solera in a cornie keg. I made my first batch about 18 months ago. Recently, I made another batch, pulled 1/2 of the old stuff out of the original cornie and blended it with 1/2 the new batch. I then racked the rest of the new batch into the 1/2 full cornie. My plan is to do this every year, does that make sense? By the way, the beer tasted great and I was very happy since I was really afraid I had made some 18 month old high grade swill.

My next question is: can I do the same thing with a lambic solera? My plan was to make a batch, wait a year and make another batch. Wait until year 3 then take 1/2 out of each cornie, blend them and bottle them. Combine the remaining beer in the kegs and store for another year while at the same time filling the empty cornie with a new batch, wait a year then repeat. Does this scheme make any sense or am I asking for trouble?

Thank you in advance for your advice. I am a novice to this sour beer thing but have been homebrewing for almost 30 years. By the way, I plan to enter my Oud Bruin in the Bluebonnet next month so I guess I will find out how well or poorly I did.

02/12/11 03:16 AM  
Re: Solera Question
Although I haven't tried a lambic solera, I don't see why it would be any less appropriate than doing the same thing for any other sour. One thing to keep in mind is that blending obviously takes more into account than age. Breweries are looking for character from various barrels that will compliment each other (or get to as consistent a result as possible.)

I've always seen that as the one downside to the homebrewer-style solera scheme. We are getting an overall average age, but without the control of blending from different batches. That said, I think it'd take more brewing of very similar beers than most of us want to deal with to end up with many different batches from which to blend. Good luck and happy brewing!

02/12/11 09:40 AM  
Re: Solera Question
I'm of the same mind as jaymo on the importance of blending in sour beers, especially lambic. With oud bruin there is enough malt to make up for little depth from the acid/funk. Not so with lambic. So BW, your plan sounds practical for a homebrew scale.

Now let us take a moment to watch Tim Webb interview Jean Van Roy: http://vimeo.com/19367846

A couple points to consider while waiting for your lambic to age:

1) "I think there is no science. Everything is a question of feeling."

2) A lambic brewer is never a master brewer.

02/13/11 12:59 AM  
Re: Solera Question
I should add that I've got a few collaborative barrel projects happening and we fully intend to transition (at least) one into a solera sour barrel.

I stand by what I said about blending, but the solera can still be a good way to get aged sour beer on a regular basis.

Mike T
02/14/11 10:23 AM  
Re: Solera Question
A friend and I started our second solera barrel a few weeks ago (1.075 golden in an apple brandy barrel), our first one is coming up on a year old (and our first pull).

Here is an article Will Meyers (Cambridge Brewing) wrote on his soleras: http://cambridgebrewing.com/blog/details/la-metodo-solera/ He is starting to have some autolysis issues now a few years into the project.

Here is a spreadsheet I made to give me an idea of how the timing/volume of the pulls affects the average age of the beer: http://ia700401.us.archive.org/14/items/SoleraAgingSpreadsheet/

Good luck.

Barley Water
02/14/11 05:04 PM  
Re: Solera Question
Thank you for the input, I would hate to start on a three year journey only to find out at the end of that time that a little common sense and experience would have shown the project to be hopeless at the outset. I agree with the blending comments. Besides having to make a very big quanity of similar beer, sucess would also hinge on blending skill which of course I have none. I think I will wait until it gets just a little warmer here in Texas before I get started with the lambic so I can control the fermentation of the intial batch just a little bit better. I am currently doing an Alt Bier and may do a couple of lagers just to take advantage of the colder temperatures then I think I'll get it started.
tom sawyer
02/15/11 04:51 PM  
Re: Solera Question
I just did a first pull off a barrel-fermented flanders red that I put in an oak barrel that was used for a red zin. It is an interesting beer even though its still somwehat young. I bottled it and added an already-fermented beer to refill the barrel. I think the sutolysis problem can be remedied by first doing your Sacch ferment and then adding the beer to the solera. In this way you really just have the Brett and lacto doing their thing in the barrel environment, and you avoid a lot of yeast sediment thats going to eventually create off flavors. That said, I've had a lambic on a yeast cake for 18 months with no distinguishable autolysis flavors, although who can tell when the stuff is so funky and tart anyway?
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