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Philambic Solera: The Half Birthday and the first tasting

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As of January 19th, 2014 my Solera “barrel” officially turned 6 months old. I have been itching to remove the carboy cap and take a whiff since fermentation subsided but it has remained sealed these past 6 months, ok I lied I snuck a peak once 4 months ago. I figured it was time to take a look at it, take a whiff and pull a sample to taste because I have no idea if this is going well or not.

glass of beer in front of a window
Sorry for the crappy iPhone pics, the DSLR was out of commission.

The cliff notes are, it is going well, very well if you ask me. I pulled a good 8oz sample with a stainless turkey baster as seen in the photo to the right. The pellicle is thick and dusty, no 2 pellicles are the same and this is one of the more aggressive ones I have had in a few years of sour brewing. The white film on the side of the glass is bits of the pellicle, it was impossible to not get some in the glass.

Solera Tasting Notes: 1.006 SG

The aroma is very lactic with some assertive fruity brett notes, peach, tangerines, pear. The first sip is very tart, like biting into a fresh tart green apple or a pear, in a good way. more fruit flavors throughout. On the back end, it starts to feel dry and then hits a wall with a bit residual sweetness.

It most certainly needs more time to round out, it reminds me of the 1-year-old unblended Lambic that I tried while on the tour of Brasserie Cantillon. Not that I am comparing the quality of this beer to a world-class Lambic, but the tartness that then appears dry and finishes with some sweetness is the exact same impression that I had of the still Lambic from the barrel there. Which makes me think I am on the right track here, and no reason to think in 6 more months I won’t have anything less than a solid sour beer. Time will tell.

To this point the beer has been in the keg without any oak, when I pulled the sample I added 0.75oz of neutral oak cubes that spent time in 2 Saisons with Logsdon’s, Hill Farmstead, and Crooked Stave dregs. The amount of cubes is a shot in the dark, I wanted to err on the side of being conservative as I don’t want any oak flavor only as an added food source for the Brett to chew on and for a place for them to live. I may add more in 6 months when I check in on this next until then I leave you with pellicle photos that’s all people want to see anyway right?


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