Friday, August 15, 2014

Solera pull #1, bottling straight.

It feels like a lifetime ago since I started this Solera Project in a sanke keg. I have been really anxious to remove the first portion to bottle but I wanted to stick to my plan of waiting a full year to remove a portion. Now that a year has past (plus 3 weeks at the time of bottling, shoot me) of aging in the Sanke keg I removed a sample to taste and bottle off 3 gallons, I started with ~14 gallons in the keg. The last time I tasted it was when it was 6 months old, and seemed to be coming along despite a lingering sweetness on the back end of the palate. I am happy to report that sweetness is gone, completely, taking its place is even more sourness. Wow! This is a really sour beer, definitely the most sour beer I've ever brewed, as you can tell by that 3.32PH at the time of the pull. 
It could go lower, but I would prefer it not at this point.
I'm glad that I chose to package the first pull prior to brewing the top off batch, post on that is coming soon after, because this may actually be a bit too sour. This give me the opportunity to modify the wort in hopes of dialing back the acidity a little bit and increasing some of the funky/sweaty/horsey aromas, based on tasting notes I took at bottling.

I bottled up all 3 gallons straight, so to get an idea of what has been going on in there over the 12 month aging process. I would have loved to get some of this on fruit, and there really is plenty, but I would prefer to tackle that with the next pull which I hope will be in 6 months time. I re-yeasted with Champagne yeast as I did with the Lambic blend a few months ago, and primed some heavy Belgian/Champagne bottles to ~3.7vols of co2. This will be a highly carbonated, highly acidic beer, fingers crossed.
Filling a mix of reclaimed bottles, some green some brown, all 29mm caps.
I'll go into more detail on my top off batch in the next post but my goal will be to minimize the sourness and increase the funky flavor/aromas. To do that I'll try to implement a few methods that I have gathered through a few different sources I've read over the years. For starters I plan to turbid mash this batch, half will be fermented aside from the Solera for blending and the rest will be for the top off. I also plan to hop the hell out of this batch, I recently purchase a ton, ok only 10lbs, of de-bittered aged hops and I plan to use a full pound in a 10 gallon turbid mashed batch. I will start fermentation in a stainless kettle with Abbey Ale Yeast and TYB Brussels Blend and then transfer to the Sanke just as fermentation is slowing but is still active. I believe this plan should help me get to where I want to be for the next pull.

I am getting close to the first tasting of this beer, its been a long wait but I think it will be worth it in the end. I will judge the beer on first taste, although I probably shouldn't because I expect this should age well for quite some time, well hopefully.


9 comments:

  1. You actually inspired me to give this a try! http://www.reddit.com/r/Homebrewing/comments/2cm10u/sour_farmhouse_sanke_solera_brew_day/

    I couldn't do a turbid mash (maybe I won't end up with a beer quite so sour...), but hopefully I will end up with something just as interesting a year from now.

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    1. I've never done a turbid mash and my beers turn out plenty sour. Just mash high for long sugar chains.

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    2. That's encouraging! I did mash at about 156-158F with that in mind, so hopefully it will help leave enough unfermentables behind.

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    3. If you look back at my brewday post I did a multi step wort only decoction mash. I think it worked well, but I think its just a little bit too sour, thats why I plan to turbid mash. Plus I think it will add some complexity using a different wort production process for top off.

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  2. Thats great! You got some great bugs in there so I would imagine it turns out well. Be patient! Try not to peak at it too often.

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  3. Awesome stuff! Coff, in my experience I would not try to lower the sour level of your solera. Instead, I would blend it with a less sour beer. I've accidentally lowered the acidity of one of my soleras, and I regret doing it now. Cheers!

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    1. Interesting, I am going to continue as planned but I will keep this in mind. If the Solera ends up less sour and I can never get it sour enough again then I will start to age out (sour) the beer for longer periods prior to adding into the Solera vessel. The current environment in this thing is just far too acidic for a sacchromyces fermentation.

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    2. I bet you will see an early fermentation even at that PH, especially since you are adding new wort that is considerably higher in ph. It might be subdued and probably driven by brett but it will happen, at least at the second year. So far I have been adding new sacc every other year in my solera but I think I am going to start adding each year with the top up wort because I get a more complex flavor out of the years with fresh sacc. More of the typical barnyard funk on the no-sacc years.

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    3. Thanks for the comment Adam, Ive enjoyed following your blog about your Solera. Youre probably right regarding my PH concerns. But I still wanted to get some fresh Sacch in there, I actually kicked it off in a fermenter first and racked it all in once I got active fermentation. I like what Brett can do to by products of a Sacch fermentation as opposed to something that might be nearly an all Brett Primary.

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